Jewish Values: Rooster Prince of Breslov, The

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32 p.
The Rooster Prince of Breslov, in some versions called The Turkey Prince, is one of Rabbi Nachman of Braslav’s tales and it can be found in many collections as well as in at least two individual illustrated versions. It is usually interpreted to mean that in order to be successful, a teacher must approach students at their own level, just as the old man in the story pretends to the confused young prince that he too is a fowl. In Stampler’s version, the thematic focus is on the child, who through gentle teaching is able to acquire empathy for others or, as the author puts it in a note, “ to become a man by developing rachmanis, or true compassion, and practicing mitzvoth, or good deeds.” The glorious illustrations express the psychological depths of the story through images that are more archetypal than realistic. All of the human characters are comical looking and slightly distorted, shown from odd angles and perspectives. The skinny, red-headed turkey prince and the grizzled old man who convinces him to return to humankind are usually naked, but artfully posed by the illustrator to preserve modesty. Many of the double page spreads resemble stage sets, reflecting Yelchin’s work in the theatre. Through its harmony of words and illustrations, this version of an oft-told tale is strikingly original.
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