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CHELM FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Valerie Estelle Frankel


by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5415-5461-0
Publisher: Kar-Ben

Chelm is a real town in Poland, but more importantly, it is a mythical place where some very silly things happen.

This collection includes stories about 10 Jewish festivals, including the weekly Shabbat. Some are adaptations of Jewish folktales, and some are original, but all highlight both the town’s citizenry and its elders, a small group of men even more foolish than the people they lead. The stories follow the Jewish year, starting with Rosh Hashanah. Some themes are quite recognizable. “It Will Get Better,” a story set on Lag Ba’Omer, is a variant of the popular “It Could Always Be Worse,” memorably adapted by Margot Zemach. In it, the holiday picnic, bonfire, and archery tournament are forced into a barn because of rain. The animals smell and eat all the food. The barn almost burns down, but the villagers have pulled some boards out of the roof to let the sun shine in on their picnic—but remember, it’s raining. The stories are short and accessible, and they will work well as read-alouds. Children can also enjoy the whole book at once, laughing to themselves about the names alone: There’s Fishel the Foolish and Uri the Unwise, among others. The book assumes an audience already familiar with Jewish customs and traditions—or one willing just to laugh without understanding everything—as there is no additional contextual material.

Humorous stories for Jewish holidays lighten up the year

. (Short stories. 6-9)