cover image What His Father Did CL

What His Father Did CL

Jacqueline D. Greene, John O'Brien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-55042-7

This dexterously written, exquisitely illustrated picture book retells the shtetl tale of Herschel, the legendary trickster who gets what he wants by dint of his wits. Setting out from Minsk, the impoverished man is determined to journey to Pinsk with just a single kopek. By nightfall he has snagged lodgings in the town of Linsk, but has no money left for food. He confronts the innkeeper: ``If you will give me nothing to eat, I shall have to do what my father did when he was given no supper!'' Adroitly using folktale-style repetition, the story builds as the frightened innkeeper runs to the town's food vendors with her tale; each urges her to comply with her guest's demands and gives her victuals. Children will relish Greene's euphonious language, with the silly-sounding city names and the repeated tongue-twisting phrase, ``There's a raggedy vagabond at the inn.'' O'Brien's intricate pen and watercolor illustrations in silvery hues of turquoise and violet capture both the charm of the village and the absurdity of its inhabitants. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)