A finalist for the Koret International Jewish Book Award
“In the middle of the night on a Thursday, two crooks―onions should grow in their navels―drove their horse and wagon to the saloon of Reb Elias Olschwanger, at the corner of 14th and Carr streets in St. Louis. This didn’t happen yesterday. It was 1919.” So begins Anna Olswanger’s charming folktale Shlemiel Crooks, the story of Reb Elias and the thieves who try to steal his Passover wine. Based on a true story, Shlemiel Crooks is an imaginative introduction for young children to the history of Passover, as Pharaoh and a town of Jewish immigrants play tug-of-war with wine made from grapes left over from the exodus from Egypt. A modern-day parable, Shlemiel has a music all its own. No other children’s book has Pharaoh’s ghost coming back to “pull one over on the Jews,” nosy neighbors making a “shtuss” outside, and a talking horse that sounds like it has a “little indigestion.” In its Yiddish-inflected English, punctuated by amusing curses, young readers hear the language of a Jewish community of another time, while delighting to brilliant illustrations on every page.
Ages: 7-12 years