Shle­mazel and the Remark­able Spoon of Pohost

Ann Redisch Stam­pler; Jacque­line M. Cohen, Illustrator
  • Review
By – June 15, 2012

Delight­ful! A well-con­struct­ed folk­tale that proves the pow­er of moti­va­tion and hard work, a val­ue that the author learned from her immi­grant grand­moth­er who first told her this story. 

Shle­mazel (lit­er­al­ly unlucky”) has no prospects. The gift of a lucky” spoon con­vinces him that he can dig up his luck. He nev­er finds what he is look­ing for, but his efforts cause him to inad­ver­tent­ly plow a field, help the miller, and find a wife. Is that not luck?” cries the neigh­bor who pro­vid­ed the spoon. That is work, not luck,” replies Shle­mazel, who admits that he now has all he needs to be hap­py — with­out any luck! The bright illus­tra­tions boast a flat­tened per­spec­tive and the blocky bold­ness of folk paint­ings. They exact­ly depict what is described in the text, but add anoth­er lev­el of life and detail to the sto­ry too. The Jew­ish con­tent may not be obvi­ous to young read­ers. How­ev­er, along with a smat­ter­ing of Yid­dish (defined in the glos­sary at the back), the sto­ry teach­es Jew­ish val­ues. The lucid Author’s Note explains that in the course of the sto­ry, Shle­mazel devel­ops a work eth­ic, begins to cel­e­brate the Sab­bath, and finds a good wife, becom­ing a self-respect­ing and wor­thy indi­vid­ual through actions that bind him to his com­mu­ni­ty and his her­itage.” An excel­lent choice for Jew­ish folk­lore and sto­ry­book col­lec­tions. Ages 5 – 10

Read­ing Guide

» Down­load the Shle­mazel and the Remark­able Spoon of Pohost Read­ing Guide from PJ Library

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.

Discussion Questions