The Barefoot Book of Jewish Tales is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading ever since Tessa Strickland, Barefoot Books co-founder and Editor-in-chief talked about it in June. Back then she was full of excitement and putting on the very final touches on the book. We got to have sneaky peek at some of the artwork and content.
The book is a collection of 8 stories from Jewish heritage and includes the familiar Barefoot Books end notes. The end notes cover signs and symbols and also give a short paragraph about the stories and their origin.
The stories in the Barefoot Book of Jewish Tales are a beautiful introduction to a faith, which embraces over 13 million people world-wide, giving insight into different aspect of Judaism. They are a beautiful collection reflecting Jewish heritage, a heritage which spans over 3,500 years.
Each of the eight stories has a powerful message, which, though delivered in a religious context, has meaning well beyond its originally intended audience. This book is an excellent reading aloud book for children 5-6 years old and beyond. It will prompt lots of contemplation and discussion in the family.
One of my favourites from these Jewish Tales is “The Prince who thought he was a rooster“, based on the story by the 19th Century Polish Rabbi Nachmann of Bratslav. The tales holds a message both for parents and children of tolerance and choices. The story is about a Prince who pretends to be rooster, his parents try in vain to reform him, until Ezra, a wise old man comes along to the king and queens’ delight. I love the way Ezra, comes down to the Prince’s level and leads him, by setting a good example; Away from silly actions, no humiliartion, just applying common sense. (It is quite astonishing that such liberal parenting methods were even considered at the end of the 19th century!)
The final message of this fable is one I hope will spring to my mind on mayor grumpy days:
“God gives human beings the ability to make choices. No matter how we feel on the inside, we can choose to behave better than we feel.”
The book is written by Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, a rabbi and busy mum of 3 herself; Illustrated by the talented Amanda Hall. The illustrations are beautiful, attention to detail is evident in the whole of this book.
Included with the book are 2 story CDs narrated by the actress Debra Messing. (Something that parents will appreciate, when their child wants to hear one of the stories over and over again.)
Just listen to her tell “The Power of Story”:
She does do these stories justice!
I believe this book will enhance any household’s book collection, whether religious or not. (Though if you are strongly anti religious, then this book is not for you.)
Happy debating with your children the issues raised in the Barefoot Book of Jewish Tales!
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