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My Grandmother's Stories: A Collection of Jewish Folk Tales

My Grandmother's Stories: A Collection of Jewish Folk Tales

by Adele Geras, Anita Lobel (Illustrator)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers can almost smell the strudel Grandma makes in these lovingly evoked, beautifully framed Eastern European Jewish folktales. Each of 10 chapters describes a child's visit to Grandma's, during which a simple act--trying on an aunt's high-heeled shoes, dressing up in a lace tablecloth--inspires a not-so-simple tale. Geras's ( Voyage; Nursery School Rabbit ) Grandma is a gifted raconteur; her repertoire includes some familiar stories (a rabbi instructs a couple complaining of cramped quarters to bring their animals into the house) and some familiar characters (the ``wise men'' of Chelm), as well as the more novel (a ``market of miseries,'' a ghost-bride). What gives these retellings a special patina is the long-ago-and-far-away quality of the child's visits themselves, set in an undisclosed time and place. Story elements specific to Judaism are explained without fanfare; even the word ``rabbi'' is unobtrusively defined. And the intricacy of Jordan's pen-and-ink and color illustrations articulates the wealth of detail suggested by the text. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly
In addition to the titles for the Jewish holidays reviewed above, a treat is in store for readers of all faiths with the reissue of Adele Geras's My Grandmother's Stories: A Collection of Jewish Folk Tales. The 1990 text is newly re-illustrated with gorgeous, glowing paintings by Anita Lobel. The art, on full pages as well as sprinkled throughout the text, evokes a folkloric Old World, where judicious (if tricky) rabbis restore order, an angel in the guise of a peddler escorts a nagging mother-in-law to a Market of Miseries, and weddings unite not just man to woman but past to present. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
There are folk tales and there are folk tale books galore. What makes this one special? The deliciousness of stories within stories. The author had a wonderfully close relationship with her grandmother, and stories came along with her visits. Sometimes they were triggered by preparations for the Sabbath or a holiday; sometimes by the child's meanderings around the familiar apartment, coming upon hidden treats or shoes or a tablecloth; or it could be a shopping trip that triggered memories of yet another story. What a warmth this book has! True, you may have read some of the tales before-who has not heard of the mythical village of Chelm where everyone is a fool but where wisdom abounds? Who needs another story about a clever boy who outwits the Czar? But these are indeed worth reading, set as they are in the reminiscences of a little girl lucky enough to live practically next door to her grandmother. You will find yourself wishing you had such an advantage as you transmit the flavor of the "Old Country" to your own dear ones through these stories. It's hard to pick a favorite among such titles as "The Faces of the Czar," "The Golden Shoes," "Saving the Pennies," "The Market of Miseries," and the rest. Originally published in 1990, this beautiful volume is greatly enhanced by new warm, sweet pictures painted by Caldecott Honor Book artist Lobel. Highly recommended. 2003 (orig. 1990), Knopf, Ages 5 to 10.
— Judy Chernak
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-- A rich and varied assortment of Jewish folk legends. Grandmother loves to tell stories, and has an appropriate one for every occasion. The avid listener is her granddaughter, who enjoys both the tales and the folk wisdom that accompanies them. Included are the foolish doings in Chelm, the wisdom of King Solomon, clever Rabbis and even cleverer Rabbis' wives, and human foibles. The dialogue between grandmother and granddaughter is warm and friendly, and gently conveys an aspect of a loving intergenerational relationship. Most of the stories are revised versions of traditional folk literature; many are presented in an abbreviated version in A Treasury of Jewish Folklore (Valentine Mitchell, 1972; o.p.), which Geras mentions as a source. Each selection is accompanied by one black-and-white and one full-color picture. These are well-written stories, each of which flows smoothly from the introduction, thereby making effective use of the story-within-a-story vehicle. The varied sentence structure, rhythmic cadence, and rich vocabulary make them a good choice for reading aloud. The fact that many have a moral or subtly teach a lesson make them useful for generating discussion. --Susan Kaminow, Arlington County Public Library, VA

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.28(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
6 - 12 Years

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