The Angel's Mistake: Stories of Chelm

The Angel's Mistake: Stories of Chelm

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by Francine Prose, Mark H. Podwal
     
 

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A gem of a legend from Jewish lore

There's never been another town like Chelm, where the people wore their hats upside down to keep them dry when it rained and went barefoot in the snow so their shoes would not get wet. Here is an irresistibly funny picture book about the famous town where only fools lived.  See more details below

Overview

A gem of a legend from Jewish lore

There's never been another town like Chelm, where the people wore their hats upside down to keep them dry when it rained and went barefoot in the snow so their shoes would not get wet. Here is an irresistibly funny picture book about the famous town where only fools lived.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
The foolishness of the people of Chelm, a favorite subject of Yiddish folktales, offers choice material for Prose and Podwal, previously paired for Dybbuk. Prose's loose story line first establishes the villagers' silliness, then relates how, after burning down the town in an attempt to provide some light, the people scatter. She adopts a droll, matter-of-fact tone to describe the people's ridiculous logic: for example, after a passerby suggests that it would be easier to roll a rock down a mountain than to carry it, "they slowly, slowly carried the rock all the way back up to the mountaintop, and this time they let it roll." Her understated approach finds its counterpoint in Podwal's warm and sunny folk sensibility. His lighthearted, appealingly askew art envisions the houses of Chelm as a kaleidoscope of muted blue and green, mustard yellow, pink and mauve shapes; other pictures pair hot pink and apple green, or turquoise with orange and yellow. A tumble of images includes figures in traditional Eastern European Jewish clothing, motifs from religious art and familiar objects like menorahs, but the general framework is ethnic, not religious, and accessible to a wide readership. An intriguing contrast to Margot Zemach's and Steven Sanfield's Eastern European Jewish folktale adaptations.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The foolishness of the people of Chelm, a favorite subject of Yiddish folktales, offers choice material for Prose and Podwal, previously paired for Dybbuk. Prose's loose story line first establishes the villagers' silliness, then relates how, after burning down the town in an attempt to provide some light, the people scatter. She adopts a droll, matter-of-fact tone to describe the people's ridiculous logic: for example, after a passerby suggests that it would be easier to roll a rock down a mountain than to carry it, "they slowly, slowly carried the rock all the way back up to the mountaintop, and this time they let it roll." Her understated approach finds its counterpoint in Podwal's warm and sunny folk sensibility. His lighthearted, appealingly askew art envisions the houses of Chelm as a kaleidoscope of muted blue and green, mustard yellow, pink and mauve shapes; other pictures pair hot pink and apple green, or turquoise with orange and yellow. A tumble of images includes figures in traditional Eastern European Jewish clothing, motifs from religious art and familiar objects like menorahs, but the general framework is ethnic, not religious, and accessible to a wide readership. An intriguing contrast to Margot Zemach's and Steven Sanfield's Eastern European Jewish folktale adaptations. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-3Anecdotal episodes of life in the fabled village of Chelm are told in one and two sentence paragraphs using modern language that retains no Yiddish flavoring or inflection. What was a barrel of borsht in Solomon Simon's The Wise Men of Helm (Behrman, 1942) becomes a water barrel. The humorous ponderings and discussions of the village elders, so elemental to Eastern European Jewish life and so much a part of Isaac Bashevis Singer's stories, are nowhere in evidence. In fact, one is barely aware that these are Jewish stories beyond the author's note and the mention of the Grand Rabbi. The origin of the town is the connecting thread between the title and the beginning and end of the story, but by simplifying the tales to reach a picture-book audience, the details and descriptions of daily life are lost. There is a subtle difference between calling Chelmites fools and calling them stupid. Fools, as depicted by Simon and Singer, just can't seem to make a sensible decision even though their hearts are in the right place while stupid, as used so often in this book, connotes a lack of intelligence. The gouache paintings are colorful but too indistinct to establish a proper sense of place.Susan Pine, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
The team behind Dybbuk (1996) have collaborated on a winsome story set in the legendary town of Chelm, charting its origins to the angel carrying a bag of "stupid souls" and mistakenly spilling them all in one town. Prose recounts many of the exploits in which "the wise men and women . . . put their brilliant minds together and solve their problems." Whether it's going barefoot in the snow to keep their shoes from getting wet or wearing their hats upside down to keep them dry, the people of Chelm are full of ideas. A need to light up the night leads the townspeople to set a fire and to then call upon the firemen who smother the flames with logs. The town burns down and the fools of Chelm are disbursed, just as "the angels had intended." Podwal's sly yet strikingly beautiful gouache and colored-pencil paintings, using impressionistic brush strokes and skewed perspectives to render the travails of the fools, are a perfect foil for Prose's understated, humorous narrative. Families will find this is a savory treat for sharing.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688149055
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/01/1997
Pages:
24
Product dimensions:
8.83(w) x 11.31(h) x 0.43(d)
Age Range:
5 - 7 Years

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