Book Review | The Rooster Prince of Breslov
by Ann Redisch Stampler

Score: 5

Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

© 2010, Clarion Books.

The author who gave us Schlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost and Something for Nothing, both excellent retellings of Jewish folktales, has really outdone herself this time. Taking an 18th century, classic story from Reb Nachman of Breslov and putting a contemporary twist to it that will open the eyes of many of today’s parents.

The Prince of Breslov gets more than what he needs or wants usually before he needs or wants it. “If he asked for a raisin, he was given a silver bowl of candied plums.” When he reaches his tipping point, he strips naked and turns himself into a rooster, only eating the crumbs and corn people throw on the floor.

His parents, the king and queen, try everything – discipline, doctors and magicians – to get him to change his behavior. Nothing works. Until one day, a wise, old man comes to the palace promising to cure the prince in seven days. Skeptical, but frantic, they accept his terms. The story of the process that this wise man uses to cause the prince to return to the world of humanity is what makes this version of the story so extraordinary.

Slowly and gently, with the utmost patience, the prince is not only led back to being human, he is also transformed into a mensch. The best part of the story is the wisdom and pride this outcome creates in the prince.

The graphite and gouache illustrations are bright, brilliant and fantastic – the face of the doctor screaming as the prince peck’s his hand,  the pondering on the faces of the magicians, the ancient wizened yet strong body of the naked old man as he begins his teaching of the young prince. Every page is a delight and captures the story’s message in deeply powerful ways.

I will read this to children of all ages, but mostly I will recommend it to parents as an excellent parenting manual. Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the back of the book.

Grade Level: K-3rd

Ages: 5-9

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
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