Dybbuk: A Story Made in Heaven

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prose has transformed the classic Jewish folktale of the dybbuk, a troublesome spirit that can inhabit and terrorize the human body, into a lively and entertaining children's story. Her light touch and deft wit weave together familiar strands of Jewish folklore from sources as varied as the tales of Sholom Aleichem (popularized in Fiddler on the Roof) to the mythical town of fools known as Chelm. Her story opens with the tradition that 40 days before a baby is born, the angels in heaven get together and decide whom the baby will marry when it grows up. Leah, from the town of Chopski, and Chonon, from the town of Klopski, not only are so destined, but actually fall in love at first sight. Leah's father interferes by trying to marry his daughter off to old Benya, the most powerful man in the village. At the wedding, Leah seems possessed by a dybbuk using the voice of Chonon, which disappears, of course, when Chonon replaces Old Benya as the groom. True love and the angels triumph. Podwal uses a palette of teal, magenta, orange and turquoise to give a vibrant flavor to the story instead of the nostalgic, old-world feeling so common to books about the shtetl. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3A story that combines and loosely adapts two Jewish legends. The first is that 40 days before we are born, the angels match us to our future mate; the second is that a living person can be occupied by a dead person's spirit that can find no peace or by an evil spirit. In Prose's story, Leah is a young woman whose father will not allow her to marry Choron, a poor boy with whom she is in love. Instead, he arranges her marriage to a rich old man. Unknown to all, the girl and her young man had already been matched in heaven before their birth. At the wedding ceremony, Choron occupies Leah's body and possesses her spirit. A comical exorcism ensues but to no avail. Giving in, the father sends for Choron and the happy pair are wed. This is a silly noodlehead story, charmingly illustrated by Podwal. However, this adaptation errs in that a living person cannot occupy another living person, not in any tradition, and a tragic theme has been transformed into a tale that does not honor its religious or folkloric source. Scores of children will be misled about a timeless legend because of this distortion. In his numerous retellings, Eric Kimmel combines snippets of one folktale or legend with pieces of another to create new tales, but he always remains true to the essence of the original. Unfortunately, that is not so in Dybbuk.Marcia W. Posner, Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Nassau County, Glen Cove, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688143077
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 24
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.35 (d)

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