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It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale (Michael Di Capua Books) Paperback – September 1, 1990


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It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale (Michael Di Capua Books) + Owls in the Family + The Wheel on the School
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 650L (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: 9.7 x 8.7 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Great for a bedtime story.
PBC
It's humorous, but has a great message for everyone who believes that things can't possibly get any worse.
S. Alvarez
This book is a great lesson in prospective for anyone.
Teena

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 30, 2004
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paul Martin on August 21, 2000
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. D. Popenoe on May 21, 2001
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "mrssymmington" on January 30, 2003
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Soaring Heart on November 11, 2002
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bret Vincent on September 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
A dear friend gave me this book many years ago when our family was going through hard times. Since then I have purchased several copies to give as gifts. A wonderful, simple message with illustrations that work for both children and adults
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