The Hungry Clothes: And Other Jewish Folktales

Peninnah Schram, Author, Gianni De Conno, Illustrator , illus. by Gianni De Conno. Sterling $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-4027-2651-4

Gathering 22 short tales from religious sources and the far-flung communities of the Diaspora, Schram (The Magic Pomegranate ) assembles a surprisingly pallid collection. The larger-than-life figures who drive many of the narratives—tricksters, the wise ones, the legendary King Solomon—barely register as personalities. Jewish humor is puzzlingly absent; among the exceptions is “A Trickster Teaches a Lesson,” in which Hershele the beggar is temporarily able to convince a greedy rich man that his valuables are capable of reproducing. De Conno’s (The Steadfast Tin Soldier ) burnished, sculptural illustrations exude an iconic handsomeness—he’d make a great Haggadah illustrator—but he also underscores the stories’ emotional distance from the audience (it doesn’t help that characters who are supposed to be clever or wily or simply engaged all share the same blank stare). Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
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