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Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost

Overview

Lazy Shlemazel is convinced he has no luck. But Moshke the tinker promises him that his luck will change if he sets to work using the “amazing, remarkable spoon of Pohost.” Shlemazel gets busy—tilling the poretz’s field, helping the miller, and baking cakes with pretty Chaya Massel. Although “luck” remains elusive, what Shlemazel does find is even better.

Lively Chagall-like illustrations capture the spirit of this traditional Jewish tale, a ...

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Clarion Books, 07/24/2006, Hardcover, Brand New!. New dust jacket.

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Overview

Lazy Shlemazel is convinced he has no luck. But Moshke the tinker promises him that his luck will change if he sets to work using the “amazing, remarkable spoon of Pohost.” Shlemazel gets busy—tilling the poretz’s field, helping the miller, and baking cakes with pretty Chaya Massel. Although “luck” remains elusive, what Shlemazel does find is even better.

Lively Chagall-like illustrations capture the spirit of this traditional Jewish tale, a funny and thought-provoking look at how we make our own luck. Author’s note, glossary.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Employing a lively Yiddish cadence, the text is a storyteller's delight, full of humor, hyperbole, and delicious adjectives." School Library Journal

"Stampler's sweet tale of success will resonate with children...here's hoping [author and illustrator] continue to work together." Kirkus Reviews

"With its wry twist on the trickster tradition, this story...will be great for storytelling." Booklist, ALA

"Colorful folkloric illustrations tilt and swing across the page, perfectly complementing the well-told tale." Horn Book Guide

Publishers Weekly
The team behind Something for Nothing returns with another shtetl story, Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost by Ann Redisch Stampler, illus. by Jacqueline M. Cohen. The lazy Shlemazel of the title (his name is the Yiddish word for an unlucky person), with a little well-intentioned trickery and the help of a magical spoon, is transformed into a mensch (a hardworking, upstanding citizen). Cohen's bright watercolors gracefully transport readers back to a world where there was great wisdom to be gleaned from the lives of tinkers, fools and babushka'd beauties. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Shlemazel excuses his laziness by claiming that his bad luck makes it impossible to do anything successfully. The townsfolk of Pohost fear that nothing can make him work, but clever Moshke has an idea. He persuades Shlemazel that an old spoon he has is an "amazing, remarkable spoon" that finds luck, and presents it to him. He then gives Shlemazel tasks to help him find his "luck." Each time Shlemazel works hard at the task and ends up with money and offers of more work. But he is still searching for his "luck." Meanwhile, he has encountered Chaya Massel, the baker's charming daughter. As he works with her, he begins to enjoy it and the prospect of marrying her. Although in the end he has not found the "luck" he thought he would find, he is "perfectly happy without it." Cohen shapes her imaginative watercolor visuals in double-page scenes which suggest dreamy shtetls like those of Chagall. Her characters have a patchwork innocence as they act out their parts in the lighthearted moral folk tale of village life set against roughly brushed areas of color. There is a glossary of the Yiddish words used, along with the author's note relating the tale to her family background. 2006, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 5 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-In Yiddish, a shlemazel is someone who has no luck. So how can anyone blame Shlemazel for sitting around all day whittling? That is until clever Moshke the tinker gives him a "remarkable" spoon that changes his life forever. As the skeptical villagers look on, Moshke convinces lazy Shlemazel to take the utensil and search for his luck in a litter-strewn field, under a mountain of newly ground flour, and in the baker's batter. In the process, he plows the field, bags the flour, learns to bake, and meets his future wife. Employing a lively Yiddish cadence, the text is a storyteller's delight, full of humor, hyperbole, and delicious adjectives that make it a pleasure to read aloud. Jewel-toned panoramic watercolors are infused with a joyful folkloric quality well suited to the story. This clever folktale reminds readers that people make their own luck. Pair it with Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Shrewd Todie and Lyzer the Miser," another wonderful "spoon" story, or "A Shlemiel and a Shlimazel" in Simms Taback's Kibitzers and Fools: Tales My Zayda Told Me (Viking, 2005).-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In an original tale set in a village down the road from Chelm, a young man named Shlemazel, "without luck," leads a lazy life indeed, for were he to do anything, surely he would meet some great misfortune. Moshke, the village tinker, presents him with the remarkable spoon of Pohost, which "finds luck." Shlemazel proceeds to use the spoon to grow grain, grind it at the mill and bake challah with the lovely Chaya Massel. Now with a bride, a bakery business and a cow to boot, Shlemazel credits all his achievements to hard work, not luck. Stampler's sweet tale of success will resonate with children; Cohen's brightly hued watercolor illustrations depict a cheerful Eastern European village bustling with energy. An author's note credits her mother as the inspiration for the story, and a glossary explains the Yiddish words. Author and illustrator previously collaborated on Something for Nothing (2003); here's hoping they continue to work together. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618369591
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/24/2006
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Redisch Stampler based her two books for Clarion on stories from her grandmother, who was born in Belarus and moved to the United States as a young girl. Ms. Stampler lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and children.

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