45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2004
In 1927, Dick and Jane began to teach American kids to read through repetition. So, nu? Vo den? Who knew they knew Yiddish, too? I am sure their parents could schep nachas had they known. I know what you're thinking. Oh, some fancy schmancy authors sprinkled Dick and Jane with a smattering of Yiddish. Schtuss. You'd be tsedreyt in kop if you think that way. This "primer" has a very interesting and surprising plot. In this retelling of a tale, Jane shines and doesn't play second fiddle to Dick. Jane is married to a mensch, Bob, and they have two lovely kids, as well as a dog and cat. Bob is a tad naïve. Jane works in real estate with her boss Stanley, and Stanley is very good at staging homes for sale. Dick is also married with kids, and loves to golf with Tom. Tom has a penchant golf clubs. Now an adult, Sally has moved out to Berkeley, where she is a confident feminist, but she has tsurris. But who doesn't? Even the Jamaican nursemaid the family hires for mom has tsurris (and some good herbs). So do yourself a favor. Order in some Chinese, and read this primer with the whole mishpacha. The authors, one of whom worked for National Lampoon, include a 20 page glossary of terms which is as good as the story text.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2004
Who would have thought that the non-Jewish stars of the old-time elementary school reading primers would now be speaking Yiddish? In this parody, Dick and Jane have grown up and they now face a raft of real-world problems. Jane is a real estate agent with a mensch of a husband and Dick is a businessman who golfs and schmoozes with his business associates. Their sister Sally is a zaftig ceramics instructor living in Berkeley. Their mother has a stroke and becomes a bit farblondget. Then throw in the cheating wife of Dick's switch-hitting golfing buddy and a goniff of a handbag salesman, and... feh! Sally kvetches that this is no longer the idealized and innocent world that she grew up in, where women were dress-wearing housewives, men always wore suits, and everything was politically correct.
The story has 40 old-fashioned watercolor illustrations that recall the style of the original readers but with content that reflects the realities of 21st century life. The text includes such dialog as "See Jane schlep. Schlep Jane schlep." There is a glossary containing over eighty Yiddish words and phrases and one in Chinese (yes, Chinese!) that can be found in the story. Some of the funniest things in the book can be found in this glossary, where the authors explain the origins and usage of the words. An example definition is "Mechuleh - bankrupt, kaput... See how the letters for 'kaput' are in the word 'bankrupt'? Isn't language great?" You might not learn more than a smattering of Yiddish phrases from this book, but you will have some laughs over the parody and take a nostalgic trip back to the primers that taught you to read. So nu? Why not share this book with the whole mishpocha!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2004
Who knew Dick and Jane were Jewish? This little book is a good introduction to all those words we've heard on TV or in movies and wondered what they meant. Easy to read format helps too--"Schmooze, Dick, schmooze. Schmooze, schmooze, schmooze." I liked it, the illustrations look like they came from an old Dick and Jane reader, with a few variations. Recommended for gentiles everywhere.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2005
I grew up on Dick and Jane. I can still remember the first word I learned to read, "look." Dick and Jane, and their sister Baby Sally, lived in an idealized world, perfect for innocent first graders. In this amusing little book, the Yiddishisms are funny but the true parody is that of an adult Dick and Jane living in the real world of suburban assimilated Jews (replete with the requisite meal from a Chinese Restaurant). Typically, there is the free spirit of the family represented by Sally (remember Baby Sally?) who moved to Berkeley and is a feminist ceramics teacher. Sally has moved into the real world but Dick and Jane, and their equally innocent spouses, remamin clueless, not recognizing things going on around them such as extramarital affairs.
The single funniest part of the book is where a disturbing discovery is accompanied by the caption "Oy gevalt." I will say no more about it so as not to spoil the effect.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2005
...I pished, I plotzed!
One of THE funniest things I've read in ages. I made a schmuck out of myself in the Barnes & Noble cafe, guffawing out loud and snorting a couple of times. People laughed and pointed at me, thinking I was meshuggah. Highly recommend this one.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2004
See Dick. See Jane. See Sally. See Dick , Jane and Sally in an off-the-wall primer where they speak phrases such as, "He is a goniff! Someone ought to give him a zetz in the schnoz."
Oy vey! What has happened to Dick, Jane and Sally since we last saw them? They now speak Yiddish?! Jane is married to Bob and they have two children who are very well-behaved: "Kina-hora." Jane works in real estate. Dick is a businessman who likes to "schmooze" on the golf course to drum up business. He is married to Mary and they also have two children. Sally now lives in Berkeley where she teaches "Transgressive Feminist Ceramics."
In this alternate universe to the Dick and Jane primers of our childhood, we see a married woman having an affair with her husband's friend. We see her husband in a lip lock with Jane's male boss. When Dick, Jane and Sally's mother is recovering from a small stroke which has left her slightly "farblondget," Sally comes to visit. When her mother compliments her on her looks, a "zaftig" Sally protests and rails at her mother about the fact that her mother did nothing to help her get ready for the real world. Her mother tells her that she prepared her to live in the world that she lived in. And that is the heart and soul of this book - the Dick, Jane and Sally who we grew up with were part of the perfect world that was portrayed in both print and on television where everyone was happy, there were simple solutions to all problems, and no dangers lurked outside anyone's door. There was a very strong disconnect with reality, but in the 50's and early 60's, not many people seemed to mind. Now, Dick, Jane and Sally live in the modern world, but Sally is the only one who is aware of how much things have changed and that there was never such a thing as a perfect world.
Yiddish with Dick and Jane is probably not for everyone. But for those who enjoy a good parody, it is also a fun and painless way to learn some Yiddish. There is a glossary in the back to help the Yiddish-deficient keep up with the story. The incongruity of Dick, Jane and Sally speaking Yiddish is amusing. The illustrations are right on the mark, capturing the idealized world of the Dick and Jane primers, in strong contrast to the skewed, Yiddish-speaking universe of the modern Dick and Jane.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2004
Dick, Jane, Sally, Puff and Spot -- If you grew up with them as I did, the first thing you'll love about this book is the artwork which is spot on. Our Friends have aged as we have and it seems The Whole World's Jewish. The best gems in this precious jewel of book are in the glossary -- absolutely hysterical and utterly hip, to boot (but even the authors' notes prompt out-loud guffaws.) These writers are funny, FUNNY people (and a tad twisted but their irreverence is somehow invariably endearing.) A swell, little gift and an indispensable, handy-dandy reference (yiddish words... they're soooo precise and onomatopoeiaic!) What a treat!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I have given this adorable book to several people and I get a wonderful reaction. It's cheap and great, so I say this: ORDER 5 OF THEM TODAY and have a cute gift in your inventory. Next time you're invited for dinner, throw this in with the bottle of wine.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I had gotten this book under the mistaken premise that it was simply a primer on Yiddish, not knowing it was a parody of the old school readers. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find out it was both. I learned some Yiddish I have never heard before, all while reading a hilarious story of a goyim-looking family all schmoozing in Yiddish... Yinglish, actually. English with a little Yiddish peppered in here and there. The glossary in the back explains the terms in hilarious detail.
One drama and shanda after another with the mishpoca! Bubbe gets ibbledick in the kippe, but this brings the family together for the tsimmes.
This is not suitable for children as there are family members cheating on their spouses, a grandmother that has a stroke and goes to the hospital, etc. No one dies, but the theme is a bit mature for young readers.
The illustrations are fantastic parodies of the 1950's style reader. To see all these blonde, blue-eyed happy folks wearing golf shirts, spewing Yiddish is too much! Whether you already know quite a bit of Yiddish, or you just know what you heard from Mike Meyers as Linda Richman on SNL, you're going to get a kick out of this little primer.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2005
The premise of the book is hilarious: Dick and Jane, all grown up and still living in suburbia. But this isn't the suburbia of Ward and June Cleaver. It's the suburbia of "Desperate Housewives" with a Yiddish twist.
It made me nostalgic for my years living in Miami Beach. Oy ve, where did the years go? Even the goyim who didn't grow up hearing Yiddish will love this book.