Once Upon a Tale: Twelve Illus­trat­ed Para­bles from the Dub­no Maggid

Gadi Pol­lack
  • Review
By – August 20, 2012

Rab­bi Jacob Ben Wolf Kranz, bet­ter known as the Dub­no Mag­gid for his sto­ry­telling abil­i­ties, was born in Vil­na in 1741 and died in 1804. Gadi Pol­lack presents 12 of the Dub­no Maggid’s para­bles in this beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed vol­ume. Set in a graph­ic nov­el for­mat, Once Upon a Tale serves as the per­fect intro­duc­tion to these life-long lessons. Pollack’s superb illus­tra­tions bring Mendel the tai­lor, Fishel the beg­gar, Reb Zal­man the wealthy, Robert the rogue, and oth­er char­ac­ters vivid­ly to life. These char­ac­ters amus­ing­ly con­vey the morals of Jew­ish teach­ings that the Dub­no Mag­gid dis­tilled for his stu­dents. Each of the sto­ries in the book is set apart by an illus­trat­ed title page. The sto­ries them­selves are only two pages in length, fol­lowed by a one-page expla­na­tion with ref­er­ences from the Torah and oth­er writ­ings. While the book was writ­ten with the obser­vant read­er in mind, read­ers from all back­grounds will be able to glean the mes­sages in these parables. 

There have been many graph­ic nov­els pub­lished recent­ly with a Jew­ish focus, most for adult read­ers. Librar­i­ans seek­ing to build a col­lec­tion for chil­dren and young adults should look for The Kids’ Car­toon Bible, by Chaya M. Burstein (The Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety, 2002) and The Queen of Per­sia, by Moshe Moscowitz (Shaz­ak Pro­duc­tions, 2004), both of which offer main­stream read­ers live­ly (and some­times bold) inter­pre­ta­tions of clas­sic sto­ries. By using the graph­ic nov­el for­mat, a for­mat that is becom­ing increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar and accept­ed in lit­er­a­ture col­lec­tions in libraries, Pollack’s book is sure to appeal to inde­pen­dent read­ers ages 10 and up. 

Wendy Was­man is the librar­i­an & archivist at the Cleve­land Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

Discussion Questions