The Wonder Child & Other Jewish Fairy Tales

by Howard Schwartz

Other authorsBarbara Rush, Stephen Fieser (Illustrator)
Book, 1996



Call number

J 185 SCH



New York : HarperCollins, c1996.


An illustrated collection of traditional Jewish tales from various countries.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mosbor
It is amazing how similar fairy tales are from different cultures. The Wonder Child is very similar to Sleeping Beauty. A good lesson my be to pick out similarities in folklore from different cultures
LibraryThing member raizel
"The Wonder Child" from Egypt: A childless couple pray at midnight on Shavuos for a child. Nine months later a baby is born holding a jewel which contains her soul. An evil queen, upset that the girl is more beautiful than she is (as in Snow White), tries to destroy her and takes her jewel, but the
Show More
prison guard puts her sleeping body in a hut in the forest, where the prince finds her and falls in love.

"The Long Hair of the Princess" from Libya: Three men each contribute to saving the princess from an underwater demon, but she must decide whose help is most helpful.

"The Black Cat" from Morocco: A demon who appears as a cat when away from the Kingdom of Demons gets help from a young girl and her midwife grandmother and is rewarded.

"The Forest Witch" from Eastern Europe, 1600s: A boy, thinking he is playing a joke on his friend, becomes married to the forest witch. Years later she appears as he marries a fine young woman. The witch makes a deal with the bride to take her son, but, ala Rumpelstiltskin, the woman is able to discover the witch's home and destroy her.

"The Tailors and the Giant"

"The Rabbi Who Became a Werewolf" from the Maaseh Buch in Yiddish (Basel: 1602) Eastern Europe, 1500s: A good wise rabbi married to a shrewish woman uses a magic ring to help his students. When his wife gains possession of it, she turns her husband into a wolf: "... he awoke to find himself trapped in the body of a wild beast. It was as if he had been pulled out of one body and pushed into another." [p. 41] It ends well for everyone but his wife who becomes a she-ass. The comments note that it is similar to "The Fisherman and His Wife."

"The Purim Dybbuk" from Morocco, 1700s: Saadah, an invisible spirit, is annoyed when Yusef, a little boy, spills a smelly mess on her. She turns herself into a hair, which Yusef swallows: "That is how Saadah came to be inside him and to possess his body." [p. 48] She refuses to leave unless someone can guess her name. Fortunately the rabbi understands the language of birds and birds can see spirits and Yusef has always been kind to birds. The comments note that dybbuk stories were "prominent in Jewish lore in the sixteenth century in both Palestine and Eastern Europe." [p. 63]

"The Peddler and the Sprite" from Eastern Europe: A Letz teases the peddler Mottke and the villages he travels to until on Yom Kippur the lack of food and loud shofar sounds makes it hide in a sack, which Mottke ties up; before he can throw the sack into a well, the Letz runs off in the sack.

At the back of the book, the stories are "grouped according to the Aarne-Thompson (AT) system, found in The Types of the Folktale by Antti Aarne, translated and enlarged by Stith Thompson (Helsinki" 1961). Specific Jewish additions to these types are listed according to the type index of Heda Jason, found in Fabula, volume 7, pp. 115-224 (Berlin: 1965) and in Types of Oral Tales in Israel: Part 2 (Jerusalem: 1975).

The comments include examples of similar tales.
Show Less


0060235179 / 9780060235178

Similar in this library

Page: 0.2478 seconds