- Age Range: 3 - 6 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 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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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.
“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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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! ;)
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!