Title: The Wooden Sword
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Illustrator: Carol Liddiment
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Concepts: wealth, poverty, jobs.
Review: Once upon a time in Afghanistan, the shah decided he would slip anonymously into the streets of Kabul to find out more about the well-being of the people. In the poorest section he came upon a shoemaker and his wife who seemed quite content and were willing to share their meager dinner with the shah. Curious as to the strength of their happiness and faith, the shah decided he would put the young man to the test. Each time the man started a new job, the shah decreed that activity to be illegal. Yet the man and his wife remained faithful and continued to offer the stranger a portion of their food. The shah would need to put the shoemaker to the ultimate challenge that would truly test the resilience of his faith.
This book presents young children with a new interpretation of a classic Afghani Jewish folktale. The setting provides a good opportunity to discuss with children how the realities of poverty and job loss in developing countries may differ from the rosier version in the folktale. Parents and teachers seeking to diversify their collection of fairytales and folktales will want to consider this cheerfully illustrated Afghani rendition.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children