Orca Book Publishers

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Fiction Picture Book
Pages: 32
Themes: humor, nonsense, Judaica, Chelm
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 01/May/2011
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Tova lives with her family on a small farm in the famous town of Chelm, a mythical village populated, according to Jewish folklore, by fools. Tova's farm has hens and even a rooster, but no cow. Her mother, Rivka, wishes they could afford to buy a cow, so they could have fresh milk and butter every day. One night Tova's father has a dream about how to get milk without actually owning a cow. He asks Tova to help him find a way to get milk from their hens, and the results are hilarious. Finally, to the family's joy and the hens' relief, the problem is solved by none other than the wise Rabbi of Chelm himself, and a little extra help from Tova.

Tablet Magazine - November 4, 2013
"This addition to the canon has all the delicious deadpan of the old [Chelm] tales, as well as their familiar population of hilarious idiots. Literary idiots make powerless little readers feel powerful, and smart."
Midwest Book Review - February 2, 2012
"A hilarious tale of residents of the mythical village of Chelm...Ethnic humor and didactic storytelling at its silliest and finest."
BookLinx - January 30, 2012
"Filled with numerous illustrations to aid the new chapter book reader. The main characters are well drawn."
School Library Journal - January 1, 2012
"Clever dialogue and zany characters lend a strong sense of storytelling to this tale. The family is lovingly portrayed, and Stuchner's comic, folksy text begs to be shared with groups. Weissmann's acrylic illustrations depict idyllic country scenes and extend the humor. With its silly characters and situations, this humorous tale will attract children like a chicken on a june bug."
Jewish Book World - December 1, 2011
"A brand new, old-fashioned folktale straight from the town of Chelm. And what a delightful tale it is!...Tova finally brings in the Rabbi from Chelm and he helps solve the mystery in a way that is 'udderly' hysterical. Children will enjoy watching this family try to do the impossible...The delightful illustrations...add to the humor and enjoyment. This is an excellent story."
Library Media Connection - October 1, 2011
"Colorful paintings are reminiscent of folk art and provide a view of a traditional Jewish family...This book can be used to stimulate discussion about cultural stories and humor."
The Horn Book Guide - September 1, 2011
"Colorful cartoon-style illustrations of Old World scenes underscore the humor."
Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries (SWON) - August 11, 2011
"This humorous little folktale will have young listeners giggling. Children will relate to Tova, the young heroine in the story, as she tries to help her parents to solve a big problem...Adults will also get a little giggle out of the story, as well. Read and be prepared to actually laugh out loud."
Canadian Children's Book News - August 1, 2011
"Stuchner has written a comical tale that will entertain young readers from beginning to end. They will be amused by Schlomo's grand schemes and be engaged by Tova's problem-solving skills...Weissmann uses acrylics to create his cartoon-like characters, which contribute greatly to the absurdity of the situation."
Cracking the Cover blog - July 19, 2011
"A charming story that not only exposes children to another culture but to animals as well. Problem-solving Tova is an excellent role model and her creative father is an excellent foil. Bright colors and lively illustrations bring the text to life as this lovable family dreams of milk and cheese."
Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children's Media - June 1, 2011
"A fun story with impossible solutions."
Resource Links - June 1, 2011
"Weissmann's drawings fill in the humorous details of the poor simple farm folk, their sparse farm and their peculiar ideas. This story would make a good readaloud with its large full colour pictures and expressive characters...Highly recommended."
Quill & Quire - June 1, 2011
"The tone of Joan Betty Stuchner's tale is cheerful, but the delivery is appropriately straight-faced. The effect is gently teasing but never unkind. Joe Weissmann's expressive illustrations complement this lighthearted style and paint a comic portrait of Schlomo and his family...There will be ample pleasure in predicting the outcome of the family's antics or just enjoying this simple tale that celebrates silliness."
Booklist - May 15, 2011
"Weissmann's naive-style cartoons emphasize the endearing but clueless characters and are perfectly suited to Stuchner's absurd text (relayed matter-of-factly, allowing listeners to savor their superior knowledge)...Children will especially enjoy the hilarious ending."
Publishers Weekly - May 1, 2011
"It's easy for Chelm stories to feel by-the-numbers or condescending toward their characters, but Stuchner (Josephine's Dream) and Weissmann (Mom, the School Flooded) never fall into that trap. They forgo dwelling on Chelm's backstory, letting the goofy events speak for themselves through brisk, almost reportorial storytelling and genial cartooning. It's the literary equivalent of a merry wink—which is just what this genre needed."
CM Magazine - April 1, 2011
"What is charming about this tale is that the reader knows from the very beginning that chickens do not give milk and cows do not lay eggs. For Shlomo to try to make this happen is impossible. The fun is watching him try. Joe Weissmann's illustrations are hilarious and add to the understanding of the story. This book is easy to follow even as the problem escalates to the ridiculous. Shlomo is a loveable fool, and Tova, his daughter, is a girl who is a deep thinker who cannot figure out the obvious. The ending will make everyone smile. Recommended."
Kirkus Reviews - April 1, 2011
"An original tale takes readers to that nexus of foolishness, the village of Chelm...Stuchner is completely at home with the almost-logic of Chelm. (It may seem paradoxical to write a new traditional folktale, but it's very much in the spirit of Chelm.) As in the best of the traditional stories, every step of the villagers' thought process makes perfect sense. Readers might even find themselves thinking, 'Why shouldn't hens give milk? It's only fair.' Children will have a great time looking for the flaw in the argument...Weissman's illustrations help to sell the joke: The goat just looks so content up there on top of her egg. The story is so successful in making the absurd seem obvious that readers may wonder why they didn't think of it themselves."

Awards

Read Aloud Award and Honor Books nominee  | 2011 | Short-listed
Resource Links "The Year's Best"  | 2011 | Commended
Chocolate Lily Award nominee  | 2013 | Short-listed
Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award nominee  | 2012 | Short-listed
CCBC Best Books  | 2012 | Commended
PJ Library Selection  | 2011 | Commended