________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 13 . . . . March 1, 2002

cover The Rooster Prince.

Sydell Waxman, reteller. Illustrated by Giora Carmi.
New York, NY: Pitspopany, 2000.
42 pp., pbk. & cloth, $9.95US (pbk.), $16.95US (cl.)
ISBN 0-943706-49-1 (pbk.), ISBN 0-943706-45-9 (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Parables, Hasidic-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

*** /4

Jews in old Russia were persecuted by the Tsar and his minions. They were subjected to harsh restrictive laws and the threat of violent pogroms at any time. Most Jews did whatever they could to make themselves invisible. So when the Tsar's soldier thunders into the village on horseback demanding the people help cure the Crown Prince's malady (he thinks he's a rooster), no one cares to get involved. When had the Tsar ever done anything good for them? But Avron, the son of a poor Jewish family, is kidnaped by the soldier as he takes a chicken to the shochet to be slaughtered and koshered for the Friday night meal. Avron must use his wits to cure the Crown Prince's obvious mental illness and escape a terrible unknown fate for himself. It takes a few days, but soon the Crown Prince is again dressing in clothes and eating at tables. He occasionally emits
a high pitched "Cockadoodledoo" but, other than that, his parents pronounce him fit to take over the reins of power of one of the largest countries on earth! Avron's family is overjoyed to have him back because his return was not guaranteed. He returns with a wagon full of chickens as a reward, one which he shares with the whole town.

     The Rooster Prince is a retelling of an old Jewish parable about how the wise man (the rabbi, the tzaddik) can only raise the people to a higher spiritual level if he goes down to where they are (on the ground) and understands their thinking. Based on the 18th century version of the story, Avron becomes wiser, more mature and able to deal with the complexities of life, and the Prince - well, he still crows "Cockadoodledoo" occasionally, but he has figured out how to live with other human beings.

     Children will laugh at this story, but learn from Avron's experience that being tolerant and putting themselves in another person's shoes (or mind set) can help more than any pleading or orders. The use of large type (and Hebrew style letters) for words that are shouted will encourage children to read this book loudly. The illustrations, especially of the Prince in distress and the mean Tsar, are slightly scary. Luckily, a warm family scene concludes the tale.


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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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364