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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale (Michael Di Capua Books) Paperback – September 1, 1990

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A wise rabbi doles out surprising advice to a man complaining of overcrowded quarters in this Yiddish folktale; Zemach's exuberantly chaotic illustrations earned her a Caldecott Honor. Ages 3-up.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“The familiar tale of the simple villager whose house was so crowded and noisy, he went to the Rabbi for help. . .Never has the tale been made into a picture book of such beauty and gusto.” ―Starred, The Horn Book
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD650L (What's this?)
  • Series: Michael Di Capua Books
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reissue edition (September 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374436363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374436360
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A great great story. The ultimate example of hitting yourself in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop. In this retelling of a classic Yiddish tale, the poor protagonist visits the local Rabbi with a complaint. His house is too crowded and family members are constantly getting in one another's way. As the Rabbi instructs the man to add more and more animals to his hut, the scene within turns from mildly disruptive to one of complete and utter pandemonium. When the Rabbi at last tells the man to release all his farm animals from the hut, the man is delighted to find himself living a state of complete and utter peacefulness. The fact that he cannot distinguish that what he has now is exactly what he started with his driven home by the Rabbi's side-ways roll of the eyes in the book's final picture.
The advantages of this book are many. For one thing, this is a story with a lesson that children will get. As a kid, I was read this book fairly regularly. It wasn't one of my favorite stories, but I liked the ways in which Zemach displayed chaos incarnate. At the end, I sided completely with the fed-up Rabbi. Why couldn't this man see that everything was as it was? And yet, the moral was comprehensible as well. As the title says, nothing is so bad that a little effort couldn't make it even worse.
The illustrations in this book are especially impressive. Set in a small village in what looks to be Russia, the inhabitants of this story fuss, fight, and attempt to do the daily chores inherent in their lives. The mother cooks, the kids squabble, the grandmother brushes hair, and all this is done amidst charging goats, squawking chickens and howling cats. There's a real sense of action and movement in this watercolors, as well as an appreciation for the source of the original tale. A must-have for any collection of folklore, Jewish or otherwise.
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Format: School & Library Binding
This Yiddish folk tale relates the story of a poor man who runs to his Rabbi in a state of anxiety lamenting of his crowded and noisy living conditions at his humble house. The man pleads to the wise Rabbi for advice. Over the course of several weeks, the wise Rabbi offers the perscrition to assuage the mans troubles, but things only seem to be getting worse.
Finally, the wise Rabbi has been saving the ultimate cure for the man's troubles until last. The poor unfortunate man never realized he had it so good.
The illustrations are good and the tale is captivating. A good bedtime story for 3-8 year-olds.
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Format: Paperback
This timeless tale is set long ago in a crowded city. A peasant seeking spiritual relief from the misery of his struggling household seeks help of the rabbi. The sagacious cleric, in an ironic twist, shows the man that expectations are all relative!
This book is wonderful for reading to individual kids, but it also serves very well in religious education to preschoolers across all faiths. The father's increasing desperation until almost the end is accentuated by a crescendo of pleas to the rabbi, and by the complex but pleasing illustrations.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book for my son when he was four years old. He is now 18 years old. It was packed away and found when my now seven year old was two years old. Both of them loved it and it has always been a favorite of mine. They love to hear it with a lot of expression, about "the poor unfortunate man." But make sure you put 100% of yourself into even the accent and they will never forget about the poor unfortunate man, which unknown to them has a moral, it will just become part of a strength that they will gain with the love of hearing this story, which they will ask to have read over and over again to them. I also have three girls and a son that is ten years older than my son I first bought this book for many years ago. All of them loved the story, and I bought a copy for each of my two grandchildren. So now my two daughters can pass on the story to their children. It is a wonderful story that started out as a purchase years ago and so appropriately has become a "tradition". Mrs. Symmington
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Format: Paperback
... a poor unfortunate man lived with his mother, his wife, and his six children in a little one-room hut." Everyone was crowded and the hut was full of quarreling or crying constantly. The poor unfortunate man was unhappy, and when he "couldn't stand it any more, he ran to the Rabbi for advice."
The Rabbi gives some rather interesting advice to say in the least. The wisdom of the Rabbi isn't apparent until the end of the story, yet in the meantime the story gets extremely entertaining and downright hilarious to the point of hysterics at times--well for my daughter and me! The illustrations are some of the best I have seen as far as going with the story's context.
I highly recommend this book because it has it all: a funny and entertaining story, hilarious illustrations, and a moral that I believe a child can understand well. I recommend this to young and old alike. If you enjoyed, IF YOU GIVE A PIG A PANCAKE and others like it, I know you will love to share this one too with your child.
Laugh together and Soar!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story and pictures part of the book are fine. It's a great story. However, the book was not properly cut at the manufacturer's. About ¼ inch of the top of the cover is white with random colored strips rather than just the front panel image. I had to separate every page of the book by cutting the top with a sharp knife.
It would make a poor gift presentation but I bought it for my grandkids and they won't even notice. They look at the pictures, not technical deficiencies.
I'm only posting this as a heads up to anyone wanting to buy it as a gift. I probably could have returned it but what's the point: It could always be worse! ;)
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It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale (Michael Di Capua Books)
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