________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006


A Sack Full of Feathers.

Debby Waldman. Illustrated by Cindy Revell.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55143-332-X.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g's.


"And so it is with the stories you spread, Yankel," the rabbi said, motioning Yankel to the table, where a bowl of steaming soup, a thick slice of bread and a plate of rugelach awaited him. "Once you tell a story, you cannot take it back. It goes where it goes, and you cannot say where or how or when. Think of that next time you tell a story, Yankel - and make sure the next story you tell is your own."

Yankel, a boy who spreads stories, learns a valuable lesson from the village rabbi in A Sack Full of Feathers, a first picture book by Debby Waldman. In this book based on a Yiddish folktale, Yankel realizes that telling stories based on half-truths and misinformation can be harmful. He gets his gossip by listening to partial conversations in his father's store. The rabbi helps Yankel realize his folly by instructing the boy to place one feather on the doorstep of every house in the village. When he is done, Yankel is then told to collect them again. Anxious to retrieve them before dark, Yankel slips and stumbles as he looks for the feathers, but the wind has scattered them everywhere. Flustered, dirty and sore, he reports back to the rabbi who soothes Yankel's aches with a delicious meal and the friendly, cautionary speech quoted above.
internal art

     Waldman uses rich language ("Yankel was dusting the shelves when he heard a commotion by the fabrics.") which bring life to the story. His hearsay reports to his friends encourage the worst personality traits in the children in the schoolyard and have negative consequences for those individuals he gossips about.

     Cindy Revell's lively acrylic paintings reflect the old world shtetl from which the story originated and a contemporary, bright, abstract style. The characters' faces have animated expressions, and a combination of rounded framing and a scarf that travels around the text add a sense of motion to the story. A bolt of cloth that the text describes as black is painted in blue, but otherwise the illustrations are accurate.

     Children will enjoy this story as a read-aloud, and it can also be used by parents and teachers to impart an important life lesson.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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