Moishe's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story

Overview

Kind-hearted Moishe is given a magical frying pan that will produce all the latkes you could wish forlatkes by the dozen, latkes by the hundredsbut only Moishe must use it. Alas, his short-tempered wife, Baila, does not heed the warning.

Moishe, a milkman who is kind to everyone in his poor village of Wishniak, receives a magic frying pan that produces an unlimited supply of delicious Hanukkah latkes.

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Overview

Kind-hearted Moishe is given a magical frying pan that will produce all the latkes you could wish forlatkes by the dozen, latkes by the hundredsbut only Moishe must use it. Alas, his short-tempered wife, Baila, does not heed the warning.

Moishe, a milkman who is kind to everyone in his poor village of Wishniak, receives a magic frying pan that produces an unlimited supply of delicious Hanukkah latkes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A MOO-raculous book. It will put you in the MOO-d for the holidays." New York Times Book Review

"This entertainingly illustrated tale unwinds itself and reveals the meaning of Hanukkah." The New York Times

"A nifty parable understated, funny, with sharp characterizations automatically caught on the page by Slonim's flourishing, clever art, matching the tone perfectly." Kirkus Reviews

"This warm-hearted, appealing folktale tells of a latter-day Hanukkah miracle that befalls a poor milkman, Moishe, and his short-tempered wife, Baila. David Slonim's vibrant paintings of the Old World town of Wishniak and its inhabitants add immeasurably to the charm of author Melmed's suspenseful cautionary tale. A worthy Hanukkah gift." Parents' Choice

"Four lines of verse open and close this original Hanukkah tale. "Starlight, star bright / Magic on a winter's night / White snow, candle glow / Far away and long ago" sets Melmed's scene in the village of Wishniak, and anticipates the miraculous frying pan with which milkman Moishe can feed latkes to the entire impoverished population. Artist David Slonim plays off this verse with a lyricism of his own: warm candlelight enlivens the drab beiges and browns of Wishniak and makes the blankets of snow as appealing and comforting as the milk in Moishe's pail. Broad strokes of paint, like those of Van Gogh with their vigorous immediacy, bring kindhearted Moishe and his baleful wife Baila fully alive: these are spirited caricatures where dabs of black and white for the eyes reveal whole personalities. The spirit of the holiday has no effect upon sharp-tongued Baila, who resents her husband's generosity and attempts to work the magic pan's miracles for her own end. Melmed's tale traces Baila's transformation, but it is Slonim's art, particularly in his closing illustration of Baila haloed by the sun, conversing with Moishe's two cows in the golden warmth of the barn that portrays a soul reborn." Horn Book

New York Times
This entertainingly illustrated tale unwinds itself and reveals the meaning of Hanukkah.
New York Times Book Review
A MOO-raculous book. It will put you in the MOO-d for the holidays.
Horn Book
Slonim's art...portrays a soul reborn.
Children's Literature
Because of his kindness, and also perhaps as a gift for putting up with a most unpleasant wife, Moishe the milkman is given a magic frying pan by his two talking cows. The empty old pan will produce an unlimited supply of hot, sizzling potato latkes (pancakes) with no ingredients at all. The only proviso is that it must be used only by Moishe, no one else. This new story doesn't retreat to the usual format of similar tales by coaxing ingredients from credulous bystanders: an onion here, a potato there, etc. It does what is promised, on both counts. For Moishe it provides latkes for the entire village; for his stingy wife, it provides a lesson not to be forgotten, a transforming experience which allows a believable happily-ever-after ending. The poor village of Wishniak and its old world inhabitants are depicted realistically in their snow-covered and sparsely furnished cottages and offer that sought-after blend of a perfect mix of story and pictures. "Snow on the rooftops/Milk in the pail/That is the end/Of this Hanukkah tale!" 2000, HarperCollins, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Judy Chernak
From The Critics
Moishe, a poor but generous milkman, lives with his sharp-tongued wife, Baila, in the tiny village of Wishniak. The night before Hanukkah, Baila finds, that due to Moishe's generosity to needy villagers, she has no money for eggs and flour to make their Hanukkah latkes. Baila scolds Moishe until he flees to the cowshed, seeking peace. There, he learns that a stranger has left him a magic frying pan that will produce as many lakes as he wishes as long as he is the only one using it. Baila believes Moishe's story only when she sees Moishe and the pan in action. Wonderful! Wonderful! Moishe invites all the villagers to his home for latkes. Baila is displeased because Moishe is giving away the latkes. Soon she sends him on an errand and offers latkes for sale. To Baila's surprise the frying pan won't work for her. Instead of latkes, the frying pan produces demons that frighten Baila speechless. Moishe arrives in time to save her and she is so grateful, she helps him with the milking and caring for the cows. Her voice returns, and from then on they work together. The frying pan will no longer work for Moishe, but he makes a display of it. The tale of the latkes and the demons spread. Many people from far and wide come to see the pan and soon Wishniak becomes a busy market town where nobody ever goes hungry. At the end of the story, the author has included a brief explanation of the Hanukkah festival, along with a glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew words that might be unfamiliar to young readers. In this original Hanukkah tale, Laura Krauss Melmed has included all the ingredients of a Jewish folktale—mystery, humor, and good food, and she gives them the old-world sound of times gone by.Melmed is also the author of the critically acclaimed Rainbabies (Lothrop, 1992) and I Love You As Much . . .(Lothrop, 1993). David Slonim's art has a French Impressionistic flavor that brings the story setting and the characters to life for the reader. At close view, the paintings have a warm, fuzzy texture. When a teacher or storyteller holds the book a distance from the listener, the pictures come into sharp focus. Slonim works from varying perspectives that will fascinate young readers (and their parents) and will keep them asking for more. Readers will be wise to watch for the future creativity of both Laura Krauss Melmed and David Slonim. 2000, HarperCollins, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Dorothy Frances — The Five Owls, November/December 2000 (Vol. 15 No. 2)
Kirkus Reviews
Here is a gratifying Hanukkah tale of the wages of selfishness. Moishe is the milkman in the poor village of Wishniak, a man admired by all for his generosity despite his own relative poverty. Admired by all but his wife Baila, that is, who thinks Moishe's magnanimity is a waste. She harps on him until he seeks refuge in the cow barn, where the cows reveal to "MOO-oishe" a magic frying pan left for him by a stranger. It will produce, simply by being placed over a stove, all the latkes—"plump as little pillows, with edges like gold lace"—anyone could eat. The only caveat is that Moishe must do the cooking. And he is happy to, feeding his hungry neighbors to boot. Baila thinks he is being a chump, so she concocts an errand for Moishe to do in a neighboring village and quickly sets up a café to sell the latkes. But the curse of the pan releases goblins that terrify Baila, and it is only the fortuitous early return of Moishe that saves her. Baila mends her ways, and though the pan will no longer produce latkes, it becomes an object of curiosity and veneration, and the pilgrims who come to gaze upon it turn the poor little village of Wishniak into a thriving little market town. A nifty parable—understated, funny, with sharp characterizations—that is atmospherically caught on the page by Slonim's flourishing, clever art, matching the tone perfectly. (explanatory note, glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811852340
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 10/13/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 990,462
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Krauss Melmed is the author of several children's books. Born and raised in New York City, she now lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and their three children.

David Slonim is a fine-art painter, a cartoonist, and a children's book illustrator. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, he now lives in Indiana with his wife and their four children.

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