It’s Too Crowd­ed in Here! And Oth­er Jew­ish Folktales

Retold by Vic­ki L. Weber; Hec­tor Bor­las­ca, illus. , 2010. 64 pp. $7.95 ISBN:
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
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.

Discussion Questions