Doctor All-Knowing: A Folk Tale from the Brothers Grimm

Overview

How clever are you?

And how sharp-sighted?

Are you as clever as Doctor All-Knowing — keen to change his sad life (and feed his poor daughter, Maggie)?

Are you, like Doctor All-Knowing, sharp-eyed enough to search out the thieves who've been stealing a rich man's money from right under his nose?

Good!

You ...

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Overview

How clever are you?

And how sharp-sighted?

Are you as clever as Doctor All-Knowing — keen to change his sad life (and feed his poor daughter, Maggie)?

Are you, like Doctor All-Knowing, sharp-eyed enough to search out the thieves who've been stealing a rich man's money from right under his nose?

Good!

You are just the one to watch Maggie as she cleverly, sharp-sightedly helps her father earn a four-course reward.

The Brothers Grimm rarely told so dross a tale as this little-known one, briskly retold here by Doris Orgel and animated to perfection by Alexandra Boiger.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
After a poor peasant named Crayfish receives some strange advice from a doctor, he sets himself up as "Dr. All-Knowing." A near-by rich man, hearing about him, asks him to come to his home to get back money that has been stolen from him. Crayfish brings his daughter Maggie along. As they dine with the man, Crayfish makes comments to Maggie that are misinterpreted by the servants. Having stolen the missing money, they fear that the "doctor" will find them out. After a series of amusing miscommunications, Crayfish and Maggie discover the missing money but get their reward from an unusual source. Orgel retells the little known tale with wry humor. Boiger's transparent watercolors describe an even more comic visual story. The characters express their emotions with exaggerated gestures like the doctor's smug self-satisfaction, the rich man's rage. The appropriate settings are not overly detailed, with attention to some things like the food, or lack of it, on Maggie's plate. Her straggly hair and broad smiles offer a strong contrast to the adult males. Orgel offers a brief note on her interpretation of the tale. The contrast between the front and back endpapers adds to the impact of the happy ending. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3

In this retelling of a Grimm tale, the peasant Crayfish and his scrawny young daughter, Maggie, face another supper of watery porridge. The scene contrasts with the smorgasbord being consumed by a doctor to whom they deliver a load of wood. Envious of this lifestyle, Crayfish follows the man's advice to purchase an alphabet book, a suit, and a sign that reads, "Doctor All-Knowing." He and Maggie are soon invited to dinner by an even wealthier man who asks Crayfish to reveal the identity of the thief who had stolen his money. As happens in the mayhem of fairy tales, a parade of guilty servants and a sequence of misinterpreted comments by the clueless Crayfish lead to the recovery of the treasure and just rewards. Boiger's expressive caricatures register a range of emotions from paternal concern to melodramatic groveling. Her carefully designed compositions and varying perspectives cue viewers to subtle meanings, as when father and daughter appear as long, thin shadows in a patch of sunlight near the rotund doctor's bounty. Orgel's balance of descriptive language, humor, and clarity perfectly suits the intended audience. A note explains that she changed the original by replacing the protagonist's wife with a daughter, a wise decision that causes the drama to be more about hunger than money and allows for a food-filled happy ending. Children will revel in this little-known story in which everyone wins.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
This retelling of the folktale by the Brothers Grimm is fairly faithful to the original, though the doctor's wife has been replaced by a daughter and his name has been sweetened, not particularly happily, from Crabb to Crayfish. But the satirical bite of the story-doctors don't necessarily know everything and their effectiveness relies as much on chance as experience or wisdom-retains its teeth. Nor has anything been added that would compromise the tightness of the tale's joints, or its quick-footedness. The watercolor artwork satisfactorily dilutes any extra sugar. Boiger conveys a good sense of being in old Europe, but the characters really take the cake. Each is true to his or her circumstance: Crabb and his daughter have a famished, tattered look, the rich man is by turns wheedling and superior, the original doctor is smugly corpulent and the thieving servants are a pack of cowards. Orgel's text unfolds simply and with exquisite pacing, retaining the orality of its folk origins. An entertaining as well as thought-provoking read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416912460
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,434,659
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.20 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Doris Orgel's own novel of the Nazi period, The Devil in Vienne, is considered a classic. She has translated many books from German, including a recent volume of the Grimm fairy tales. She lives in New York City.

Alexandra Boiger is the illustrator of numerous children's books, including Thanks a LOT, Emily Post! by Jennifer LaRue Huget and The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins. Mrs. Boiger lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. Visit her at www.alexandraboiger.com.

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