Raisel's Riddle: A Cinderella Story from the Jewish Tradition by Erica Silverman

Raisel's Riddle: A Cinderella Story from the Jewish Tradition by Erica Silverman


Raisel is an educated Polish girl raised by her grandfather, a scholar.  When he dies, she finds work as a scrub girl.  Three wishes bring her to the Purim festival and a thoughtful riddle unites her with her prince.

A Review from Publishers Weekly states:
"Starring a Jewish orphan in a long-ago Polish village, this colorful, expertly structured variation on Cinderella offers many things: an independent-minded heroine plus a hero attracted by wisdom and virtue; a fairy-tale patina plus old-world ambiance; and a tie-in to Purim that grounds the story without limiting its appeal. Raisel is not immediately recognizable as a Cinderella type. Raised by her grandfather, a poor but devout scholar, she has studied right alongside him. When he dies, she finds work in a faraway village as the helper to a rabbi's cook, a jealous and harsh woman who could rival any evil stepmother.

Silverman (Don't Fidget a Feather) maintains impeccable pacing, characterization and once-upon-a-time diction as Raisel catches the eye of the rabbi's learned son, and, through an act of kindness, earns three wishes on Purim. Enter a costume and magical transportation, and the Cinderella parallel pops out, to surprise and delight young readers. Raisel uses her wishes wisely and wins the love of the rabbi's son; unlike Cinderella, this maiden sets a test for her beloved, and it brings the story full-circle to its flavorful beginnings.

Gaber (Bit by Bit) underscores the text's emphasis on the characters' inner resources. Her paintings find the warmth in Raisel's companionship with her grandfather, despite the modest surroundings, and they pay more attention to Raisel as a scullery maid than to her appearance in the magical costume. A splendid story, intelligently served. Ages 5-8."

[Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition]

A Review from School Library Journal states:
"Kindergarten-Grade 3-In this Jewish holiday variant of the Cinderella story, Raisel, the granddaughter of a learned scholar, uses her wits to win the rabbi's son. After Raisel's grandfather dies, the orphaned girl moves from her Polish village to a large city and goes to work in the kitchen of a rabbi. On the night of the Purim ball, she feeds an old woman who gives her three wishes for her kindness, thus allowing Raisel to attend the ball and tell the rabbi's son a riddle that wins his heart. Using elements from the classic tale and ideas from the Talmud, Silverman crafts a story that teaches the importance of learning while retaining the romance of the fairy tale.

The quotes from the Talmud blend in well with the rest of the narration and the themes reappear in the art. Gaber's pictures are uneven, with Raisel looking different from page to page, but at their best, the composition is lovely and the realistic paintings with their smears of bright colors beautifully reflect the emotions of the text. The artist plays with point of view, setting her illustrations at all different angles and distances, some of which are more effective than others. However, as a whole, the book works, and while not a necessary purchase, it will be a welcome addition where more folklore with a Jewish focus is needed."

[Amy Lilien, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.]
Illustrations by: Susan Gaber
Hardcover  40 Pages