"A heartwarming tale of magic and unbelievable events in the lives of a poor husband and wife, Koppel and Yetta...Aubrey Davis has written a clever, playful story for young children loaded with wondrous surprises, happiness, a bit of heartbreak, a lot of kishka and a great deal of special meaning. Sheldon Cohen’s illustrations are full-bodied, richly coloured and add extra nuance to Davis’ words. Young readers will be delighted with the story."
"Davis's skill as an animated storyteller and performer shines through as does his sense of humour in the retelling...The story moves forward with delightful dialogue between Yetta and Koppel. The occasional colourful bold print of text adds to the rollicking nature of the tale. Bright cartoon-like illustrations suit the nature of the story...The energetic folk art displayed here will become another successful addition to Sheldon Cohen's impressive career in the illustration, animation and painting of children's stories. This well recognized and multi award-winning duo of Aubrey Davis and Sheldon Cohen have created magic with a captivating and whimsical folktale, one that teaches readers to 'be careful what you wish for!' Highly Recommended."
"A fresh take on [an] old tale...Cohen's folksy acrylic art features oversize eyes and exaggerated facial expressions well suited to Davis' borscht belt–style comedic retelling...Should be popular with storytellers and listeners alike."
"Rendered in acrylic paints, Cohen's humorous illustrations, depicting characters with exaggerated expressions, add much to the story's humor."
[Starred review] "A captivating fresh take on the classic folktale teaching us 'Be careful what you wish for.'...The author's sense of humor gleams throughout, giving a sense of comedy to the events as they transpire...The lovely acrylic illustrations by Sheldon Cohen are folksy, whimsical, and filled with bright colors. They perfectly complement the light tone of the story."
"Based on the popular three-wishes motif, this version has its own unique vitality and flavour. The old-time Jewish humour and vocabulary as well as the fast-paced sassy dialogue all add an appealing piquancy...The meat grinder is portrayed with its own personality, and the characters of Koppel and Yetta are realistically lovable. With their human foibles and frailties, they demonstrate that true happiness does not lie in material wealth, a salutary lesson for all. Sheldon Cohen, award-winning animator and illustrator, has created rich, colourful acrylic artwork full of wry observation. Subtle details, such as hilarious facial expressions, demonstrate the many fluctuations of mood, and the artful whimsy is in perfect harmony with the drollery of the text. This story, adapted from a 2007 movie, is another great example of Aubrey Davis's ability to give an old tale an ethnic twist. It is an appealing addition for all collections and an irresistible read aloud for story time."
Canadian Children's Book News
K-Gr 3—In this Jewish retelling of the Grimm Brothers' "Three Wishes," Koppel finds a wish-granting meat grinder. The junk man and his wife, Yetta, dream of all the riches they'll wish for, but inevitably they end up wishing for kishka (a kind of sausage), and subsequently wishing it onto and off Koppel's nose. All ends well as the meat grinder points out how lucky they are to have each other (plus a delicious kishka). The naive, folksy cartoon illustrations are expressive and lend a lighthearted air with their varying perspectives and bright acrylic colors. The storytelling is lively and humorous. The Yiddish speech patterns will amuse readers familiar with that style but may pass over the heads of others. However, many modern children may be tripped up by unfamiliar concepts such as the job of junk man, the old-fashioned meat grinder, and kishka, described in the text as "stuffed sheep guts" and unappetizingly illustrated. These distractions may somewhat dilute the message of being happy with what you have.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
The traditional tale of three wishes gone wrong is here retold with a Jewish flavor as a magic meat grinder helps a junk man and his wife remember what's important in life.
In storyteller Davis' version, Koppel and Yetta dream of gems, a jewelry store, a throne and a mountain of cheesecake, but they end up with kishka on Koppel's nose instead. The tale is told in rapid-fire dialogue appropriately reminiscent of borscht-belt humor. Yiddish terms, including those in the title, are defined in a glossary. Cohen's acrylic paintings facing the text add to the humor. One wordless double-page spread, repeated on the back cover, shows the couple's fantastic dreams. Careful details bring their world to life. Fallen leaves in the city alley echo the junkman's loss of hope. Their tiny house is filled with trash on one side but has a tidy, carefully swept living area, complete with clarinet and music stand. At the end, the grinder's whirring handle emphasizes the couple's contentment in their small domestic circle. The theme of gratitude is a familiar one for the author of
Bagels from Benny (illustrated by Dušan Petricic, 2003) and makes a nice addition to this often-told tale, which lacks only an acknowledgement of sources.
A fresh look at an old favorite.
(Picture book. 4-8)