This reviewer was smiling from the first page to the last of this fractured fairy tale, Jewish style. Libby Gaborchick, fairy extraordinaire, tells the story of how she cured the beautiful and exuberant Princess Vera of her sickness (lack of love). What was the prescription? Three perfect peaches, of course! The time-honored story of three sons who try to woo the princess is flavored with Jewish “ta’am” The two older sons, Sheldon and Harvey, are rude, musclebound brutes, but the youngest, skinny Marvin, is the hero of this tale. How do we know he’s the hero? Simple. He promises his mother he’ll bring her to live in the palace. As Libby says, “Such a son. Couldn’t you just kiss him?” After Marvin passes three tests (involving 100 rabbits), the story ends happily. The zany, comic-strip-like illustrations in gouache and colored pencil fairly leap off the page. They’re filled with energy, changing perspectives, and humor — a perfect collaboration of word and art. Is this a Jewish book? On the surface, it is not; however, the inflections and cadence of the language immediately evoke a Jewish tone and attitude: “Vera is healthy, and the king and queen have less stress.” Dan Barel’s storytelling will appeal to young and old alike. Such a writer! Ages 5 – Adult.
Anne Dublin is the teacher-librarian at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Canada and an award-winning author of books for children and young adults. Her latest book is June Callwood: A Life of Action (Second Story Press, 2006).