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The Wooden Sword: A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan
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The Wooden Sword: A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Disguised in servant's clothes, an Afghani shah slips out of his palace to learn more about his people. When he encounters a poor Jewish shoemaker full of faith that everything will turn out just as it should, the shah grows curious. Vowing that no harm will befall the poor man, he decides to test that faith, only to find that the shoemaker's cheerful optimism cannot be sh ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Albert Whitman & Company
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I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, the illustrations are nice, and this is a good example of that tradition Kurt Vonnegut talks about (which Americans don't have) of honoring the poor wise man. On the other hand, I couldn't help being irritated by the glorification of poverty and the poor man's Candide-esque assertions that it didn't matter whether he had enough money to buy food, because his faith would get him through. (And of course, when his wife is concerned about how they w ...more
Lynda Shoup
This folktale from Afghanistan is a welcome addition to the folktale section. Of special remark is the last page in which the author documents her sources and the way in which this version was vetted for authenticity. This page could be very useful as an example about how it should be done. This is one I'll add to my purchase list.
The illustrations are rich with detail and the story flows nicely; between the shah's actions and the shoemaker's attitude there is lots to talk about here. PLUS it's well-researched, and sourced & cited thoroughly.
The shah discovers a very happy couple living in the poorest house in Kabul. He decides to test the poor man's faith in God by preventing him from earning a living. Each time, the poor man finds a way to buy dinner. Finally, his prayer to his God at a critical moment convinces the shah that he is genuinely faithful. He makes the poor man a royal adviser because of his wisdom.

This book would be appropriate to share as a read aloud with children between four and six years old. Children that enjoy
This was a very nice folktale from Afghanistan about faith, humility, and kindness. I'm not big into folktales, but I did enjoy this one.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Beautifully retold by Stampler and beautifully illustrated. Definitely one book to add to a collection of folk tales.
Alethea A
Of all her books, this is definitely my favorite.
Delightful folktale about wisdom and contentment.
Kelly Merfford
This folktale is based on a traditional idea that a poor man is thankful for what he has and does not yearn for more. A "good shah" takes to the streets of the common people and passes by the house of a poor man and his wife. He is amazed to see them laughing and smiling and stops in to ask them what they have to be happy for. Not believing that the man can be happy despite his lack of possessions, he returns to the castle and creates various laws that limit the man's job choices, to test the ma ...more
Jill Ratzan
Each of the aspects of this picturebook that stood out for me were also ones that Stampler mentions in her author's note! First, both negative characters (the bullying shah and the whining peasant) from some versions of this folktale have become positive ones (a change that's best, if paradoxically, appreciated by readers who know these versions). Second, although the peasant attributes his successes to a deity, his real rescuer is a combination of his own thoughts and actions and the circumstan ...more
This folktale is a story of one man’s faith in God to overcome all. His faith is witnessed by a Afghani shah who devises a series of tests and trials determine if his faith is true. Illustrated in warm bright colored pencil drawings that not only add accurate cultural aspects but serve to keep the mood light, for a heavy topic. Excellent book for displays of different religions and cultures, not for story time.
Sean Dugan-Strout
This Jewish folktale is a wonderful retelling by Ann Redisch Stampler, that presents issues of faith and bullying in a bright and colorful way. I especially liked the artwork; the acrylics on the pages make the story pop out. She uses beautiful and vibrant colors. It's nice to see Afghan tradition in children's literature.

This is a Jewish folktale from Afghanistan. With fun, brightly colored illustrations, it tells the story of a poor Jewish shoemaker. An Afghani shah tries to test the poor man's faith, but every time things turn out as they should. Back matter includes a lengthy author's note.
Taylor Troncin
This book was read for Wesley’s summer reading club. Wesley is my (soon to be five year old) son. This review is what we used for his reading club.

This was an interesting story. It was a bit long for Wesley's attention span (he wanted to go play on the computer).
Such an intriguing Jewish story from Afghanistan. I also appreciated Stampler's author note, telling how she got interested and researched the background for writing this story.
Amanda Taylor
This was a cute book and most children would love it. It referenced God, belief, and faith so it probably shouldn't be a book in a public classroom.
T.A. Maclagan
T.A. Maclagan marked it as to-read
Jul 31, 2015
Megs marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2015
Shauntae Middleton
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Oct 28, 2014
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Aug 25, 2014
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Where it Began marks the YA debut of Ann Redisch Stampler. She is the author of several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor notable books and an honor book, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann has two adult children and lives in Los Angeles, California with her ...more
More about Ann Redisch Stampler...
Where It Began Afterparty The Rooster Prince of Breslov The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street Go Home, Mrs. Beekman!

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