Dybbuk: A Story Made in Heaven

Francine Prose, Author, Mark Podwal, Illustrator Greenwillow Books $15.93 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-14308-4
Prose has transformed the classic Jewish folktale of the dybbuk, a troublesome spirit that can inhabit and terrorize the human body, into a lively and entertaining children's story. Her light touch and deft wit weave together familiar strands of Jewish folklore from sources as varied as the tales of Sholom Aleichem (popularized in Fiddler on the Roof) to the mythical town of fools known as Chelm. Her story opens with the tradition that 40 days before a baby is born, the angels in heaven get together and decide whom the baby will marry when it grows up. Leah, from the town of Chopski, and Chonon, from the town of Klopski, not only are so destined, but actually fall in love at first sight. Leah's father interferes by trying to marry his daughter off to old Benya, the most powerful man in the village. At the wedding, Leah seems possessed by a dybbuk using the voice of Chonon, which disappears, of course, when Chonon replaces Old Benya as the groom. True love and the angels triumph. Podwal uses a palette of teal, magenta, orange and turquoise to give a vibrant flavor to the story instead of the nostalgic, old-world feeling so common to books about the shtetl. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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