Clever Rachel

Deb­by Wald­man; Cindy Rev­ell, illus.
  • Review
By – September 19, 2011
Rid­dles are the heart of this enjoy­able retelling of a Jew­ish folk­tale. Young Rachel has been raised on rid­dles and is as clever as any boy, though her moth­er would pre­fer that she focus on learn­ing to make kugel and set­ting a prop­er Shab­bat table. Jacob, the baker’s son, doubts her abil­i­ty to solve rid­dles as well as he does, so Rachel decides to teach him a les­son by step­ping back when a dis­traught young woman named Miri­am comes plead­ing for help. If Miri­am doesn’t solve three rid­dles, her beloved will be forced to mar­ry some­one else. Jacob strug­gles with the rid­dles until he becomes flus­tered and final­ly turns to Rachel for the answers, remem­ber­ing that true wis­dom comes from work­ing togeth­er. Although min­i­mal­ly sprin­kled with old world phras­ing, the text reads more like a pic­ture book than a folk­tale. Appeal­ing full-page illus­tra­tions in gold­en hues depict tra­di­tion­al­ly garbed vil­lagers with expres­sive faces that bring the sto­ry to life. But the true appeal of this book is the rid­dles, includ­ing a full page of them at the end just for fun. Read with Raisel’s Rid­dle by Eri­ca Sil­ver­man and entries from While Stand­ing on One Foot by Nina Jaffe for a great intro­duc­tion to Jew­ish rid­dle and puz­zle sto­ries. For ages 7 – 9.
Teri Mark­son has been a children’s librar­i­an for over 18 years. She is cur­rent­ly the act­ing senior librar­i­an at the Val­ley Plaza Branch Library in North Hol­ly­wood, CA.

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