And Twelve Chinese Acrobats

And Twelve Chinese Acrobats

by Jane Yolen, Jean Gralley

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-Lou the Rascal crosses the line of acceptable humor when he ``borrows'' lambs from all the farmers in his village for a prank. His father sends him to a military school in Kiev, where ``He will learn to march in an orderly fashion...and to go in a straight line.'' Not surprisingly, he is expelled; when he returns home months later leading a team of Chinese acrobats, his father recognizes his managerial ability and sends him to America to find a place for a ``troop of Yolens'' to stay. Told from the perspective of Lou's younger brother, who later became Jane Yolen's father, this nostalgic story sits comfortably in the niche where family folklore and historical fact grow together. Mood and setting are especially well conveyed. Readers get a sense of a 1910 Ukranian village through the actions of its residents, and especially of Lou's boisterous and loving family. Though the author explains that ``Jewish boys simply did not go to army schools...'' because they could not maintain religious observances there, she never alludes to the political reasons they avoided the Russian military. Gralley's pencil illustrations are robust and animated, and evoke Maurice Sendak's early work in their high-density characterizations. All told, this tale has the tone of a personal tribute. Though it's well written and illustrated, its appeal for the intended audience is limited-it's long on description and short on dialogue and plot.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Hazel Rochman
nger for reading aloud. Set in a village in old Russia, Yolen's warm chapter-book comedy is based on her own family stories about her father's beloved older brother. Lou is in so much trouble in the village that he gets sent away to military school, but he runs away from there and is never heard from again, until one day he returns home to the village with a troop of Chinese tumbling acrobats. In the tradition of Singer and Sendak's "shtetl" stories in "Zlateh the Goat" (1966), both words and pictures have a dancing energy and absurdity, with wonderful confrontations between the shocked village elders and Lou's somersaulting troop. The mind has to "bend and stretch like an acrobat" to hear what the visitors tell about a world so different from the cozy little village. In the end, Lou is the one chosen to immigrate to America to find a home for the family. He's a character many children hear about: the beloved, outrageous relative, always in trouble, never able to fit in, who causes uproar in the old country and leads the way to a new life.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.72(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
8 - 9 Years

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