Sharon Elswit, author of The Jewish Story Finder, now resides in San Francisco, where she has been helping students visiting 826 Valencia locations around the city to write stories and poems and getting adults up and retelling Jewish folktales to share with their own spin.
Solomon and the Ant: And Other Jewish Folktales
Much heart has gone into the creation of this handsome book, in which 43 gently humorous, Jewish teaching folktales call to be shared aloud. Selections include religious stories, fables and wisdom, trickster and riddle tales, warmly retold by the late Sheldon Oberman, of The Always Prayer Shawl fame, and lovingly wrapped with expert commentary by Peninnah Schram, who prepared the manuscript for publication at his request. Lively dialogue refreshes traditional favorites and introduces many new tales less likely to be found in other modern collections. Character resourcefulness abounds. A merchant tricks a farmer into returning stolen money by letting him think he will be able to steal more. A girl learns how to face a bully by first collecting three hairs from a frightening dog. A discontented man comes to accept his own problems when he sees what is happening in other houses. Maimon wins a poisoning contest without using any real poison at all. King Solomon learns humility from an ant. Stories, some given new settings, take place through time in Holland, Morocco, America, and England, as well as Eastern Europe and Biblical lands. Oberman’s notes set historical context for the tales, and Schram’s expand what a particular story reveals about Jewish traditions and values. Both generously slide in other stories and delectable tidbits. Classic origins for the tales, along with selected sources and variants and motifs, complete each entry. The book ends with a glossary and comprehensive bibliography of approximately one hundred folklore collections. There is so much here. Attracted by Lloyd Bloom’s arresting jacket art, readers will want to stay. Highly recommended for ages 8 and up.
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