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Sholom's Treasure: How Sholom Aleichem Became a Writer    by Erica Silverman & Mordicai Gerstein order for
Sholom's Treasure
by Erica Silverman
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This engagingly illustrated picture book explains how Sholom Aleichem, author of 'more than six thousand stories, essays, plays and novels' written in Yiddish (the beloved movie Fiddler on the Roof is based on his work) came to be a writer. The pen name Sholom Aleichem is a Yiddish greeting, 'Peace be with you.' Erica Silverman tells the story of the writer's childhood with empathy, while Mordicai Gerstein's paintings add color and humor. We see the popular Father that Sholom adored, and the small, lively Russian community (shetl) in which he lived. At the end of each Sabbath, there's drinking, dancing, and singing at the Rabinowitz home, and the boy's father reads aloud to his guests. Sholom, one of twelve children, looks forward to Jewish school (kheyder).

There, he studies hard, but also discovers a new role in life ... as the class clown. And he has a secret plan, to find a treasure with his best friend Shmulik, and give it to Father, to relieve his constant worry. Sholom and Shmulik share 'stories of magic and adventure, filled with wizards, kings, spirits, and wishing stones.' But then Sholom's friend moves away, times grow even harder, and they have to leave the village. Sholom's mother dies and his stepmother, unhappy to have twelve children to look after, scolds constantly. When Sholom organizes her colorful curses into a book, 'The Sharp Tongue of the Stepmother', it makes her laugh. So he discovers the power of humor, which he uses against other bullies. He begins to write, to create a treasure for his beloved Father.

The countless fans of Fiddler on the Roof and Sholom Aleichem's writings will appreciate this beautiful account of growing up in difficult circumstances, but with a passion to read, write, and entertain. Share Sholom's Treasure with other budding young authors and comics - it will inspire them.

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