A Sack Full of Feathersby Debby Waldman, Cindy Revell (Illustrator)
Yankel loves to tell stories, as long as they are someone else's. He does not see the hurt that his stories cause, the way they spread and change. Then the rabbi hands him a bag of feathers and tells him to place one on every doorstep in the village. Yankel is changed by what happens and finds himself with his best story yet, one of his very own.
When the rabbi overhears Yankel spreading damaging rumors, he gives the boy a sack of feathers, instructing him to place one feather on the doorstep of each house in their village. When the child reports back to the rabbi, he's told to collect the feathers-an impossibility that illustrates the uncontrollable nature of gossip. Animated acrylic artwork amplifies the Eastern European shtetl setting of this folktale. Waldman's decision to use a boy as the careless blabbermouth instead of the customary old yenta may give this cautionary tale more immediacy for children than Joan Rothenberg's Yettele's Feathers (Hyperion, 1995). The flavor of the straightforward language, however, has little of the zesty humor that gives Rothenberg's picture book its sparkle.
Miriam Lang BudinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
"I never saw a feather," Levi said. "If you wanted me to have a feather, why didn't you knock on the door and hand it to me?" "The rabbi told me to leave it on your doorstep," Yankel explained. "Why on my doorstep? What's this about a feather?" "Not just your doorstep. Everyone's doorstep. I don't know why, but the rabbi said to do it, so I must. And if your feather is gone, then I must go too, for I have many feathers to find before the sun sets."
"The rabbi told me to leave it on your doorstep," Yankel explained.
"Why on my doorstep? What's this about a feather?"
"Not just your doorstep. Everyone's doorstep. I don't know why, but the rabbi said to do it, so I must. And if your feather is gone, then I must go too, for I have many feathers to find before the sun sets."
Meet the Author
Debby Waldman's writing has appeared in publications including People, Parents, Glamour, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Publishers Weekly, Chatelaine, the Washington Post, and More Canada. She writes a bi-weekly family column for The Edmonton Journal. She is available for readings and to conduct writing workshops with students of all ages. More information is available at: www.debbywaldman.com.
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 www.cindyrevell.com. Follow her on Twitter @cindyrev.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Yankel Liebovich has a very bad habit. Since his father owns the village store in Olkinik, he hears all kinds of stories every day. Unfortunately, Yankel doesn't usually hang around to hear the end of the tale. No, what Yankel hears are things that he knows the other school children will find funny, interesting, or horrifying--and those are the stories that Yankel tells daily.
He likes to brag about the fight between two women who were arguing over a piece of fabric at the store. "She's mean!" the other children comment. He likes to tell about how the baker used salt instead of sugar in his baked goods. "I'll never eat there again!" the other children say. For Yankel, finding a good story to share is more important than anything else; more important, perhaps, than the truth.
When the Rabbi sends Yankel on a mission to leave a feather at every home in the village, he does so without many questions. But when the Rabbi sends him back to those same homes, again, to retrieve that same feather, Yankel realizes the impossibility of his task. So, too, is it impossible to take back the stories that he likes to spread around Olkinik.
This is a great folktale that tells a very important lesson, although it might be one that is hard for younger children to understand at first. Once they truly grasp what gossip is, though, and how it can harm other people, they will learn, just like Yankel, that the only stories you should tell are your own.