Clever Rachel by Debby Waldman, Cindy Revell |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Clever Rachel

Clever Rachel

by Debby Waldman, Cindy Revell

In this retelling of a Jewish folktale, Jacob tries to stump Rachel with his best riddles but fails repeatedly. When a young woman in need of help presents Rachel and Jacob with the trickiest riddles of all, they discover the only way to solve them is to work together.


In this retelling of a Jewish folktale, Jacob tries to stump Rachel with his best riddles but fails repeatedly. When a young woman in need of help presents Rachel and Jacob with the trickiest riddles of all, they discover the only way to solve them is to work together.

Editorial Reviews

Cleveland Jewish News
"This book is absolutely charming and concisely written. It's full of the kind of Jewish values parents want their children to absorb from a very young age: work hard, do your best, cooperate…Any child old enough for a book with real pages will love this story and especially the page at the end with riddles they can use to stump their friends."
"The illustrations are bold and whimsical and the text is very entertaining with a feminist slant…There is even a page of riddles to test one's power of deductive reasoning at the conclusion of the book."
St. Albert Gazette
"A riddle wrapped in old-fashioned, homespun wisdom…Revell's folksy illustrations beautifully complement this simply told story…There is a whimsical, timeless quality to each sketch."
Ottawa Jewish Bulletin
"Waldman writes with tongue-in-cheek, understated humour and includes riddles galore in her story...Facial expressions and body language are particularly clever and telling in Cindy Revell's full-colour acrylic illustrations...A sparkling collaboration between the Alberta-based author and illustrator. Bravo!"
CM Magazine
"[The] acrylic illustrations…are reflective of the warm, fireside setting of the story…Revell's characters have evocative, believable facial expressions which add detail and drama to the story."
Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children's Media
"This enchanting retelling of a Jewish folktale is laced with riddles that children will enjoy trying to solve...The warm acrylic folk art illustrations do much to enhance this delightful story that provides a glimpse of rich Jewish culture."
Canadian Children's Book News
"A pleasure to read aloud. The main characters are made vivid by their rich language and inner thoughts…Children will be attracted to the folk-art vitality on every page."
Edmonton Jewish News
"A vibrant book that tells a story that will entertain and educate young children about cooperation and teamwork… Waldman maintains the beautiful flavour of the folktale using simple and colourful language… 32 pages of sheer delight."
Canadian Literature
"Colourfully illustrated in acrylics…The lesson here is that while individual excellence should be encouraged, cooperation is the only path to wisdom."
Library Media Connection
[Starred review] "The pairing of the author and illustrator to bring another Jewish read-aloud format works wonderfully. The children in the story help solve many riddles and teach the reader about pride, wisdom, and teamwork. Sprinkled throughout are Jewish values and Yiddish terms that teach culture in an unimposing way. Highly recommended."
Resource Links
"This would be a useful book to use during a multicultural or folktale lesson, or as a way to segue into the topic of riddles."
MSU) Book Notes (Center for Children's/Young Adult Books
"A delightful story in which readers will like figuring out the riddles with Rachel and Jacob."
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Rachel, the innkeeper's daughter, has been making riddles since she was a baby. She shuns her household chores until her mother gives her the solutions. Soon she is entertaining inn visitors. But young Jacob, the baker's son, a serious scholar, becomes annoyed hearing about how clever Rachel is. "No girl could be smarter than I am," he thinks. While he is crossing wits with her, a woman named Miriam comes to the inn asking for help in solving three riddles quickly. Jacob insists on taking over, but cannot give her the answers. Rachel can, but does not want him to get the credit. Finally Jacob admits that Rachel is the wiser. Miriam explains that she must solve the riddles to marry the man she loves. Rachel decides to work with Jacob to give Miriam what she needs. Both admit that they are sorry and will work together in the future. There is a folk art quality in the illustrations to this Jewish tale complete with schtettl background. Vignettes and full and double pages depict the characters in acrylic in action in appropriate costume and village settings. They are a bit cartoon-y, with broad faces and four-fingered hands. There is humor in both story and illustrations, with a strong feminist message. An added page of riddles may spur some readers to make their own. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.40(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.50(d)
AD600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt

Jacob was stunned. Rachel had devoured his best riddles the way his father's customers devoured fresh rugelach. He was about to say so when he was distracted by a loud noise at the inn's door. Standing in the entry was a young woman, who might have been beautiful had she not looked so distraught.

"I am Miriam," she said. "I hear there is a clever child at this inn. One who is good at solving riddles."

"I am happy to help you," Rachel said, but Jacob's voice was louder.

"My name is Jacob," he announced, stepping in front of Rachel.

"But I'm the one you're looking for," Rachel protested.

Meet the Author

Cindy Revell’s illustrations have been used on billboards, wine bottles, magazines and numerous children’s books all over North America. In 2001, Cindy was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s book illustration. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta. For more information, visit Follow her on Twitter @cindyrev.

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