The Schlemiel Kids Save the Moon

­Collective Book Studio. (The Schlemiel Kids of Chelm). Apr. 2024. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781685556037.
K-Gr 3–In this modern-day retelling of a Yiddish folktale about the wise men of Chelm, young readers are enjoined to use their big imaginations. The grown-ups of Chelm are uniformly convinced that the moon’s reflection in the lake means it has become trapped and thus will cease to light the night. Their two ill-fated attempts to capture the moonlight prompt the group to seek council with the village’s rabbi to solve the problem. After the dawn of a new day, the rabbi concludes, with prompting from Sarah and Sam Schlemiel, that their prayers have encouraged the moon to ascend back into the night sky, for its reflection can no longer be seen in the lake. Many versions of this folktale have been told throughout the years, but the story often revolves around the silly folks of Chelm trying to solve moon-oriented mysteries, such as its disappearance on overcast nights or the capture of moonlight in a barrel for nighttime illumination. Centuries-old folktales transposed into a modern setting beget a cognitive dissonance that may have little ones pointing to present-day foils of smartphones and Google. The back matter features a helpful Yiddish glossary. While the author does contextualize the folklore in the front, it may not be enough to get today’s readers to suspend their disbelief.
VERDICT This Jewish folktale has a modern relatability that will add value to the 398s, but young readers will need some adult-led coaxing to navigate the plot holes and give in to the silliness.

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