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The Wise Men of Chelm and the Foolish Carp

Singer, Isaac Bashevis
Format: Paperback
Publisher: GREENHILL BOOKS (Green Bean Books)
Published: November 1, 2020
ISBN: 9781784385651
24 pages, 20 colour illustrations
Country of publication: United Kingdom


When Chelm community leader, Gronam Ox, is given a live carp in honour of his great wisdom, he is delighted. He knows, of course, that eating the brain of a carp increases wisdom and that the size of the tail is indicative of the size of the brain. But when the carp uses that very tail to slap him across the face – in what can only have been a deliberate act – Gronam Ox is shocked.

Surely no Chelm carp would have behaved in such an appalling manner. There is nothing else for it; the carp must be punished. While Gronam Ox ponders the most fitting punishment, the carp is fed and looked after in a large tub of water stationed in the town centre.

It is essential that the carp survives until the day of judgement but Gronam Ox’s deliberations are taking quite some time. The carp grows fatter and fatter until finally, many months later, Gronam Ox arrives at an apt sentence – one so clever that all the people of Chelm flock to see it exacted. The carp must be drowned.

Written for children by the master storyteller, and former Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer, this classic Yiddish folktale is infused with his signature humour, warmth and wisdom. This beautifully illustrated new publication will bring the famously foolish people of Chelm to life for a new generation of children.

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