This new addition to our folklore bookshelf is a wonderful combination of traditional Jewish folktales and Midrashic stories that are both Jewish-values based and engaging for young children. There are eight stories in the anthology, each pointing to a different value. Several of the stories are well-known and familiar, such as the story of the farmer and his wife who approach their rabbi with a plea to help them live within the constraints of their tiny house; it is well-told and interestingly illustrated, and is a jump-off point for a discussion of reasons to be thankful. Another renowned tale is that of David, whose life is saved by a spider who spins a large web at the entrance to the cave where he is hiding, and he is not killed by King Saul. This is seen as an introduction to learning to appreciate others. After each story there is a “resource page” providing some background that places each value in its Jewish content and gives tips to help children understand them. “Quizzical Questions” are child-oriented discussion starters, and “Try This!” suggests brief activities for children to do. The reality is that any of the stories can be shared as is without extending the values message, and will be enjoyed by the target audience. The values message, though, is an excellent addition for teachers and parents to use in a discussion of values. Illustrations are colorful and primitive, and are age-appropriate for the audience. Recommended for ages 4 to 8 as a read-to, and as an independent read for 2nd and 3rd graders.
Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Specialist’s Certificate in information science. She is the library director and media specialist at the Moriah School in Englewood, NJ.