From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3—In this retelling of a Grimm tale, the peasant Crayfish and his scrawny young daughter, Maggie, face another supper of watery porridge. The scene contrasts with the smorgasbord being consumed by a doctor to whom they deliver a load of wood. Envious of this lifestyle, Crayfish follows the man's advice to purchase an alphabet book, a suit, and a sign that reads, "Doctor All-Knowing." He and Maggie are soon invited to dinner by an even wealthier man who asks Crayfish to reveal the identity of the thief who had stolen his money. As happens in the mayhem of fairy tales, a parade of guilty servants and a sequence of misinterpreted comments by the clueless Crayfish lead to the recovery of the treasure and just rewards. Boiger's expressive caricatures register a range of emotions from paternal concern to melodramatic groveling. Her carefully designed compositions and varying perspectives cue viewers to subtle meanings, as when father and daughter appear as long, thin shadows in a patch of sunlight near the rotund doctor's bounty. Orgel's balance of descriptive language, humor, and clarity perfectly suits the intended audience. A note explains that she changed the original by replacing the protagonist's wife with a daughter, a wise decision that causes the drama to be more about hunger than money and allows for a food-filled happy ending. Children will revel in this little-known story in which everyone wins.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Adapted from the Grimms’ fairy tale sometimes called “Doctor Know-all,” this amusing story tells of Crayfish, a poor man who longs to give his daughter fine meals instead of watery porridge. Following the advice of a prosperous local doctor, he sells what little he has to buy an alphabet book, a suit, and a sign saying “Doctor All-Knowing” to place above his door. A wealthy neighbor sees the sign and asks the “doctor” to tell him who has stolen his money. Through a series of coincidences, Crayfish succeeds. In the introductory “Retellers Note,” Orgel explains why she changed the story somewhat, making the wife character into a daughter. The book’s large format gives plenty of scope for the dramatic illustrations. Consistent in style, yet varied in size, composition, and perspective, the watercolor paintings use comic exaggeration to good effect. Vivid in both the telling and art, this child-friendly edition of the tale is a fine choice for reading aloud. Preschool-Grade 2. --Carolyn Phelan