The Slangman Kids Foreign Language Through Fairy Tales series uses familiar stories to introduce basic vocabulary for a variety of languages; the Hebrew editions are those under review here. The three fairy tales in the series, Cinderella, Goldilocks, and Beauty and the Beast, introduce Hebrew words, provide context for them, and offer opportunities for repeated use of each term. For instance, Cinderella begins “Once upon a time, there lived a teenage girl [yaldah] named Cinderella who was very pretty [yafah]. The yaldah, who was very yafah, lived in a small house [bayit] with her stepmother and two stepsisters.” Each level builds on the one before by using words learned in earlier stories along with new words. The Hebrew words appear in transliteration, although the first incidence of a new vocabulary word is accompanied by the Hebrew spelling. Each level introduces approximately 20 new words. Level 4 (Pinocchio) and level 5 (Jack and the Beanstalk) will be published soon. Over-the-top cartoon illustrations in bright candy colors add an element of mischievous fun. A CD accompanies each title, with a pleasant-voiced female narrator reading the story aloud. Background music and sound effects help to set the scene and mood. Although the pace of the read-aloud may be challenging for some, the CD’s enhance the fun cartoon atmosphere of each story. And of course, hearing the pronunciation of the vocabulary is very helpful. While the stories themselves have no Jewish or Israeli content, their familiarity to English speakers makes them ideal vehicles for introducing vocabulary in an amusing, easy way. The series will make a highly useful addition to Hebrew language classrooms and to libraries that support such programs. Ages 5 – 10.
Heidi Estrin is librarian for the Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL. She is a past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee for the Association of Jewish Libraries.