Seven Good Years: A Yiddish Folktale

Kalaniot Bks. Mar. 2023. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9798986396521.
PreS-Gr 2–Tuvia, a poor man with a wife and two children at home, is a porter in the local marketplace. When work runs out and he has no money to get food for Shabbat, the dejected man silently wishes “If only I could return home with something for my family.” Suddenly, a man clothed all in green appears and informs the porter that “there are seven good years in store for you”—which just happens to include a pile of gold behind Tuvia’s dilapidated house. And, when the seven years of good fortune are over, Tuvia and his family will simply return to the lifestyle they now have. The years go by in a flash, and when the man in green next encounters Tuvia, he is shocked at his appearance, his home, and his family. Just what happened in those seven years? A parenthetical phrase, “I’m glad you asked,” appears throughout the tale as the narrator speaks directly to readers and answers self-posed questions. The pleasant ending reveals two surprises: how Tuvia and his family spent the gold, and what happens next to the family of four. The colorful, flowing cartoon illustrations set on white backgrounds provide a lighthearted setting.
VERDICT Based on a story published in the early 1900s, Smith’s retelling of this clever Yiddish folktale offers much food for thought and discussion.

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