While Standing on One Foot: Puzzle Stories and Wisdom Tales from the Jewish Tradition


Winner of the 1996 Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award, this "stellar collection . . . will be read, pondered over, and enjoyed again and again" (Booklist, starred review).
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Winner of the 1996 Anne Izard Storyteller's Choice Award, this "stellar collection . . . will be read, pondered over, and enjoyed again and again" (Booklist, starred review).
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW's starred review praised the "craftily honed narratives" and "pithy prefatory comments" in this collection of 18 Jewish tales that challenge readers to a test of wits. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-The 17 brief selections in this book come from many eras and places in Jewish history and geography. Among them are ``The Grand Inquistor,'' set in medieval Spain, in which a vicious inquisitor schemes to trick an innocent rabbi into admitting his (and by extension, all the Jews') guilt for a terrible crime. Others tell how a fox outwitted Leviathan, the powerful sea monster; how the boy who would later become King Solomon outsmarted a surly innkeeper; how a jester avoided dying by choosing the right form of death; and how a barren wife kept her husband through cleverness. Those who have read classical versions know that the originals meander, lack drama, and are dull. They have been adapted here so as to be short enough for memorizing and telling; all have a hero, a villain, a challenge, and a punch-line. Introductions supply background information. Just before revealing the outcome of each tale, the teller pauses, sums up the dilemma, and then asks readers what they would do in the same situation. Excellent for group discussions.-Marcia Posner, Federation of New York and the Jewish Book Council, New York City
Stephanie Zvirin
Quite different from Jaffe's recent collection of Jewish holiday stories "The Uninvited Guest" , this anthology of 17 folktales by and large eschews the magical and fabulous. Most of these tales, which are presented as intellectual puzzles, are "solidly grounded in the ways of human nature and human ingenuity. The writing is full of life and often very funny. Each story is written in two parts (the first sets the scene; the second reveals how the conflict was resolved), separated by a question designed to challenge children's creative thinking skills and match their wisdom with the wisdom of the sages: "Can you guess how this clever traveler escaped his fate?" "If you were the beautiful princess, who would you choose?" The gimmick will pique children's interest, though it's unlikely kids will guess the actual solutions. The collection is wonderfully diverse, ranging from a classic tale about the wise fools of Chelm to one set in 1930s Germany. There's even an animal parable. Headnotes supply appropriate historical context and fill in cultural information gaps, while careful notes at the end of the book detail story sources. With black-and-white illustrations that have the appealing simplicity of children's own artwork, this is a stellar collection that will be read, pondered over, and enjoyed again and again. A glossary and bibliography are included.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805025941
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/19/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 89
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.61 (d)

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