Yankel loves to tell stories, as long as they are someone else's. He does not see the hurt that his stories cause, the way they spread and change. Then the rabbi hands him a bag of feathers and tells him to place one on every doorstep in the village. Yankel is changed by what happens and finds himself with his best story yet, one of his very own.
A boy fond of spreading gossip and rumors "other people's stories" witnesses the ripple effects of his actions in this entertaining, if somewhat lengthy, retelling of a Jewish folktale. Whenever he overhears a snippet of conversation or observes villagers engaging in any activity he deems interesting, Yankel can't wait to tell his friends, embellishing the anecdotes to make them even livelier. This practice results in lots of half-truths and potentially harmful information floating around town. Luckily, the local rabbi has been watching Yankel, and has a creative way to help him see the error of his ways. It involves delivering feathers to every doorstep, and then trying to collect them again. (This plot thread will be familiar to those who have read Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna, illus. by Loren Long.) Waldman's text retains all the hallmarks of a traditional tale, but the real spark here is Revell's chipper artwork. Zippy page borders and spot illustrations with unusual shapes are among the design elements that give her textured acrylics some oomph. A cast of (mostly) spotted cats and a jaunty Yankel springing through the pages number among the memorable character depictions. Ages 4-8.