Jewish Folktales
and
Talmudic Stories

(Page 7)



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Other Pages of Interest:
Jewish Folktales and Talmudic Stories for Children (Page 1) (Page 2) (Page 3) (Page 4) (Page 5) (Page 6) (Page 7)


Easy Reader and Picture Books:
Jewish Children's Books (General) | Jewish Board Books | Biblical Stories for Children | Jewish Holiday Books | Jewish Family Cookbooks | Jewish Folktales and Talmudic Stories for Children (Page 1) (Page 2) (Page 3) (Page 4) (Page 5) (Page 6) (Page 7) | Jewish Life Books (Mitzvot, Keeping Kosher, etc.) | Jewish Life Cycle Books | Family Haggadahs | Children's Prayerbooks | Introductory Hebrew Books | Jewish History and Historical Fiction Picture Books | Israel Books

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The Wonder Child:
And Other Jewish Fairy Tales

By Howard Schwartz and Barbara Rush
Eight tales from Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions reveal both similarities to familiar European motifs and differences that highlight the stories' Jewish origins. In the title selection, an Egyptian variant of "Snow White" and "Sleeping Beauty," a rabbi and his wife pray for a child on Shavuoth. "The Long Hair of the Princess" is a Libyan tale with the familiar motif of a princess having to choose her husband from among seven deserving suitors. The importance of good deeds is stressed in "The Black Cat," a story from Morocco. Another tale with a Biblical flavor is "The Forest Witch" from Eastern Europe, which reinforces the sanctity of marriage vows. The giant Og makes an appearance in "The Tailors and the Giant," also from Eastern Europe, which explains the origin of tailors' pale faces. The three concluding stories feature more otherworldly characters: "The Rabbi Who Became a Werewolf" and "The Peddler and the Sprite" from Eastern Europe, and "The Purim Dybbuk" from Morocco. Lovely, full-page, full-color illustrations and spot art enhance the mood of the text. Detailed notes provide sources and groupings, and a brief glossary explains the Hebrew and Yiddish words used. A solid collection with magic, mystery, and humor.

Description from School Library Journal

The Woodcutter's Coat

By Ferida Wolff
A woodcutter buys a ine, heavy coat with a thick fur collar and five round buttons,which keeps him warm until, with much use and little upkeep, it begins to fall apart. A thief steals the tattered coat, and it passes from owner to owner, eventually coming back to its original possessor -- but looking brand-new. Entertaining illustrations depict good-humored folk and sly details in this circular tale.

Description from Horn Book

What the Moon Brought

By Sadie R. Weilerstein
The 17 stories in this 1968 book feature Ruth and Debbie--two sisters who were not quite twins, and both had pointy chins, from always looking up at the moon. Once a month, their mother let them stay up to look at the new moon that was like a silver cradle. Sometimes it sailed out of a cloud, rose from behind tall buildings or peeked from behind the branches of a tree. And once it rose out of the sea. But wherever the new moon came from, it brought the Jewish holidays, and the sisters greeted it with "Shalom Aleichem!" (Peace welcome!)

Description from Amazon.com Customer Review

Wise Little Judge

By David Shalom Pape
David Shalom Pape is best known for his stories in a children's magazine, "The Moshiach Times." Now he has selected 17 stories for children and presented this Torah Literature in enjoyable, readable style for young people. His selections are divided into chapters: Holiday tales, from the days of the Baal Shem Tov, Torah giants and moments in history. Not only are all of the tales interesting and exciting, but they are illustrated by three talented artists which add to the interpretations of the stories. ...

Description from Jewish World News

Stone Men

By Nicki Weiss
Nestled happily on his grandma's lap, Arnie listens to the story the woman tells of long ago. It's about Isaac the peddler, who pushes his cart from village to village, selling "knickknacks, doodads, and gewgaws." As he travels the lonely road, he often stops to build a large stone man, decorating it with a fallen branch or an old hat. The figure keeps him company until it is out of sight, and then he builds another. A few days before Passover, Isaac overhears a group of the czar's soldiers planning to ransack a village. Unable to awaken the tired townspeople, he embarks on a plan of his own. The next morning, the surprised villagers watch the soldiers gallop away in confusion. Looking to the hillside, they see an impressive army of stone men and immediately know who to thank.

By framing this tale in a storytelling scenario, Weiss creates a comfortable mood for her narrative. The language is direct and dramatic, giving the story the cadence of a family tale passed from one generation to the next. The pastel and colored-pencil paintings have a quiet texture, creating a homespun look that works well with the text. Uncluttered illustrations in deep brown and greens evoke Isaac's lonely landscape, while bright pastels and a checkered frame differentiate present-day scenes and reflect the warm affection between Arnie and his grandma. Characters have simple, almost cartoon features that are appealingly expressive. While historical events and use of words like "dybbuk" give this tale a distinctly Jewish flavor, this story of quiet heroism will appeal to all children.

Description from School Library Journal

The Angel's Mistake :
Stories of Chelm

By Francine Prose
The team behind Dybbuk (1996) have collaborated on a winsome story set in the legendary town of Chelm, charting its origins to the angel carrying a bag of "stupid souls'' and mistakenly spilling them all in one town. Prose recounts many of the exploits in which "the wise men and women . . . put their brilliant minds together and solve their problems.'' Whether it's going barefoot in the snow to keep their shoes from getting wet or wearing their hats upside down to keep them dry, the people of Chelm are full of ideas. A need to light up the night leads the townspeople to set a fire and to then call upon the firemen who smother the flames with logs. The town burns down and the fools of Chelm are disbursed, just as "the angels had intended.''

Podwal's sly yet strikingly beautiful gouache and colored-pencil paintings, using impressionistic brush strokes and skewed perspectives to render the travails of the fools, are a perfect foil for Prose's understated, humorous narrative. Families will find this is a savory treat for sharing.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

The Feather Merchants and Other Tales of the Fools of Chelm

By Steve Sanfield
A slight variation on the moon theme is one that is delightfully developed in Sanfield's very funny collection. Here it is 2 brothers who are eager to get-rich-quick and believe that they can capture the moon in a barrel of water and them rent it out to the villagers for big bucks. Even Chelmites aren't that foolish. This is an excellent read-aloud for Grades 3 to 8.

Description from Children's Literature

Elijah the Slave

By Isaac Bashevis Singer
A Hebrew legend is retold in this picture book. In order to rescue a scribe named Tobias from poverty, a messenger from God named Elijah sells himself as a slave in the marketplace.

Description from Publisher

Jewish Stories of Fun and Adventure :
Starring Menschy the Clown and Chickenface & Noony, Foofy, and Cooky

By David Sokoloff
An introduction to the wonderful heritage of stories that have been told from generation to generation over the centuries. Retold and illustrated for the very young, this entertaining and educational collection includes best-loved tales from the Bible as well as Jewish lore.

Description from Publisher

The Two Brothers :
A Legend of Jerusalem

By Neil Waldman
The Two Brothers is a quiet tale of sibling love that accounts for the origins of Jerusalem. The titular two brothers live on opposite sides of a hill, and each worries that his own life is more bountiful than that of his kin. Wanting to share the wealth, but without offense or condescension, the brothers take turns sneaking sheaves of wheat to each other in the darkness. King Solomon watches with amusement as the brothers' mutual generosity leads to confusion. Finally, their philanthropic paths cross one night, and the love they feel for each other causes a miracle to occur. Solomon is inspired to build a temple on the very spot, and the city of Jerusalem springs up soon after.

Waldman's drawings are simple but lovely; the soft, muted tones lend a warm, dreamlike quality to the legend. His story is equally lucid, reminding readers of the marvelous power of familial love.

Description from Amazon.com

Strudel, Strudel, Strudel

By Steve Sanfield
Zaynul the school teacher and his wife Zeitel are poor but happy Chelmites until they develop an uncontrollable craving for strudel. Asleep or awake, they dream about the sweet treat until Zeitel comes up with a plan. If they each save just one zloty a week, hiding the coins in an old trunk with wheels, they will be able to afford the ingredients. After the first week, both husband and wife secretly decide to let their spouse do the saving. The trunk is finally opened in the spring, revealing only the two original coins. In the argument that follows, they fall into the trunk, which rolls down the street and wreaks havoc in the marketplace. In response, the town leaders use their best Chelm logic to make some new rules: teachers may not live on a hill, own a trunk with wheels, or eat strudel.

Description from School Library Journal

Two Brothers

By Judith Belsky
The well-known tale of lovingkindness and the place where the Temple once stood.

Description from Publisher

One-Minute Jewish Stories

By Shari Lewis
Twenty stories from various aspects of Jewish life--the Talmud, folklore, the Bible, history - - all in a format for reading in one minute.

The Coachman and Other Stories

By Gershon Kranzler
Disguised as a coachman, Rabbi Baruch travels from town to town in order to further his spiritual understanding. Along the way he meets many people and realizes the greatness of simple folk.

Description from Publisher

Hinkl and Other Shlemiel Stories

By Miriam Chaikin
Six stories about shlemiels, who resemble the fools of Chelm, but live throughout the world.

Description by Rabbi Amy R. Scheinerman>

A Children's Treasury of Sephardic Tales

By Zvia Ehrlich-Klein
A delightful treasury of classic Sephardic stories, collected and presented by Zvia Ehrlich-Klein. Beautifully illustrated by Channa Galitzer.

Description from Publisher

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