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2005 blog


Feathers—A Favorite Tale for Children, July 30, 2005


Heather Forest, Feathers, with illustrations by Marcia Cutchin, August House Publishers, unpaged, $16.95

Reviewed by Donald H. Harrison

Who among us has not heard the Jewish tale about the rabbi who, to teach the dangers of lashon hara (evil speech), told a rumor-mongering congregant to let loose some feathers in the village square and then to gather them up again?

The congregant, seeking to make amends, did as the rabbi told—only she was not able to retrieve the feathers. They were caught by the winds and spread far and wide. The rabbi taught that evil speech also produces such a result. The words can never be recalled.

Heather Forest retells this story in verse, making the reading of it aloud a double delight: 

(A) woman
whose tongue
was sharp and unkind
was accused 
of starting a rumor

She was brought before 
the village rabbi, protesting
"What I said was in jest,
just humor...

Did I say double delight? It's far more than that because Marcia Cutchin's illustrations of townspeople in Fiddler on the Roof-type costumes—along with their vivid expressions—are quite enjoyable. Several of them are so vivid, so well-composed and drawn, that they practically tell the story without the text.

This book is highly recommended for reading to your child or grandchild—again and again!