Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories

Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories


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Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer introduces readers to the village of Chelm in this Newbery Honor Book. Chelm is a village of fools. The most famous fools—the oldest and the greatest—are the seven Elders. But there are lesser fools too: a silly irresponsible bridegroom; four sisters who mix up their feed in bed one night; a young man who imagines himself dead. Here are seven magical folktales spun by a master storyteller, that speak of fools, devils, schlemiels, and even heroes—like Zlateh the goat.

The New York Times called Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories, "beautiful stories for children, written by a master." The New York Book Review said, "This book is a triumph. If you have no older children on your list, buy it for yourself." Singer's extraordinary book of folklore is illustrated by Maurice Sendak, who won a Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064401470
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/10/1984
Series: Harper Trophy Books Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 104
Product dimensions: 5.94(w) x 8.88(h) x 0.38(d)
Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Isaac Bashevis Singer was one of the last great Yiddish authors and received world acclaim for his rich and haunting novels of Jewish life and folklore. In 1978, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was also the recipient of two National Book Awards and three Newbery Honor Awards. Zlateh the Goat, a 1967 Newbery Honor Book, was his first book for children.

Maurice Sendak’s children’s books have sold over 30 million copies and have been translated into more than 40 languages. He received the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are and is the creator of such classics as In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, Higglety Pigglety Pop!, and Nutshell Library. In 1970 he received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration, in 1983 he received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association, and in 1996 he received a National Medal of Arts in recognition of his contribution to the arts in America. In 2003, Sendak received the first Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, an annual international prize for children’s literature established by the Swedish government.

Date of Birth:

July 14, 1904

Date of Death:

July 24, 1991

Place of Birth:

Radzymin, Poland

Place of Death:

Surfside, Florida


Attended Tachkemoni Rabbinical Seminary in Warsaw, Poland, 1920-27

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Fool's Paradise

Somewhere, sometime, there lived a rich man whose name was Kadish. He had an only son who was called Atzel. In the household of Kadish there lived a distant relative, an orphan girl, called Aksah. Atzel was a tall boy with black hair and black eyes. Aksah was somewhat shorter than Atzel, and she had blue eyes and golden hair. Both were about the same age. As children, they ate together, studied together, played together. Atzel played the husband; Aksah, his wife. It was taken for granted that when they grew up they would really marry.

But when they had grown up, Atzel suddenly became ill. It was a sickness no one had ever heard of before: Atzel imagined that he was dead.

How did such an idea come to him? It seems it came from listening to stories about paradise. He had had an old nurse who had constantly described the place to him. She had told him that in paradise it was not necessary to work or to study or make any effort whatsoever. In paradise one ate the meat of wild oxen and the flesh of whales; one drank the wine that the Lord reserved for the just; one slept late into the day; and one had no duties.

Atzel was lazy by nature. He hated to get up early in the morning and to study languages and science. He knew that one day he would have to take over his father's business and he did not want to.

Since his old nurse had told Atzel that the only way to get to paradise was to die, he had made up his mind to do just that as quickly as possible. He thought and brooded about it so much that soon he began to imagine that he was dead.

Of course his parents became terribly worried when theysaw what was happening to Atzel. Aksah cried in secret. The family did everything possible to try to convince Atzel that he was alive, but he refused to believe them. He would say, "Why don't you bury me? You see that I am dead. Because of you I cannot get to paradise."

Many doctors were called in to examine Atzel, and all tried to convince the boy that he was alive. They pointed out that he was talking, eating, and sleeping. But before long Atzel began to eat less and he rarely spoke. His family feared that he would die.

In despair Kadish went to consult a great specialist, celebrated for his knowledge and wisdom. His name was Dr. Yoetz. After listening to a description of Atzel's illness, he said to Kadish, "I promise to cure your son in eight days, on one condition. You must do whatever I tell you to, no matter how strange it may seem."

Kadish agreed, and Dr. Yoetz said he would visit Atzel that same day. Kadish went home to prepare the household. He told his wife, Aksah, and the servants that all were to follow the doctor's orders without question, and they did so.

When Dr. Yoetz arrived, he was taken to Atzel's room. The boy lay on his bed, pale and thin from fasting, his hair disheveled, his nightclothes wrinkled.

The doctor took one look at Atzel and called out, "Why do you keep a dead body in the house? Why don't you make a funeral?"

On hearing these words the parents became terribly frightened, but Atzel's face lit up with a smile and he said, "You see, I was right."

Although Kadish and his wife were bewildered by the doctor's words, they remembered Kadish's promise, and went immediately to make arrangements for the funeral.

Atzel now became so excited by what the doctor had said that he jumped out of bed and began to dance and clap his hands. His joy made him hungry and he asked for food. But Dr. Yoetz replied, "Wait, you will eat in paradise."

The doctor requested that a room be prepared to look like paradise. The walls were hung with white satin, and precious rugs covered the floors. The windows were shuttered, and draperies tightly drawn. Candles and oil lamps burned day and night. The servants were dressed in white with wings on their backs and were to play angels.

Atzel was placed in an open coffin, and a funeral ceremony was held. Atzel was so exhausted with happiness that he slept right through it. When he awoke, he found himself in a room he didn't recognize. "Where am I?" he asked.

"In paradise, my lord," a winged servant replied.

"I'm terribly hungry," Atzel said. "I'd like some whale flesh and sacred wine."

"In a moment, my lord."

The chief servant clapped his hands and a door opened through which there came men servants and maids, all with wings on their backs, bearing golden trays laden with meat, fish, pomegranates and persimmons, pineapples and peaches. A tall servant with a long white beard carried a golden goblet full of wine. Atzel was so starved that he ate ravenously. The angels hovered around him, filling his plate and goblet even before he had time to ask for more.

When he had finished eating, Atzel declared he wanted to rest. Two angels undressed and bathed him. Then they brought him a nightdress of fine embroidered linen, placed a nightcap with a tassel on his head, and carried him to a bed with silken sheets and a purple velvet canopy. Atzel immediately fell into a deep and happy sleep.

When he awoke, it was morning but it could just as well have been night. The shutters were closed, and the candles and oil lamps were burning. As soon as the servants saw that Atzel was awake, they brought in exactly the same meal as the day before.

"Why do you give me the same food as yesterday...

Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories. Copyright © by Isaac Singer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Fool's Paradise5
Grandmother's Tale21
The Snow in Chelm29
The Mixed-Up Feet and the Silly Bridegroom39
The First Shlemiel55
The Devil's Trick71
Zlateh the Goat79

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Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
ElizabethChapman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh how I loved this book as a child! I didn't understand it was based on Jewish folk tales, but I must have sensed the depth of tradition that gives heart to each story. The tales are sometimes scary, sometimes hilarious, sometimes silly, and sometimes tender, but all are wise. My only regret? I don't know Yiddish and so can't read them in their original language. The illustrations by Maurice Sendak shine among his very best work. I can't recommend highly enough for children and adults.
1morechapter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book for children. Not only was it a Newbery Honor Book, it was also written by Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer and illustrated by the wonderful Maurice Sendak. With stories of fools, mixed-up feet, devils, and pet goats, this book can be enjoyed by both children and adults.My favorite was definitely the title story, ¿Zlateh the Goat.¿ Zlateh has been good to Aaron¿s family, but it is now Hanukkah and the family needs money for basic necessities. Aaron grudgingly leads her to the butcher, only to be caught in a snowstorm. The snow is so bad that no one can even search for the pair. Will Aaron be reunited with his family in time for Hanukkah? Will he even survive the storm?Recommended for families with children and adults with a Jewish interest.1966, 90 pp.
Laura51 More than 1 year ago
Have you ever had a pet or have your children ever had a pet thst you didn't really approve of. The little boy in this project never thought his goat Zlateh (female) would be so special to him. Economy for his family was not so good, so his dad had no choice but to sell Zlateh. The dad said "Take her to the bucher!" The little boy had no choice, on the way a storm hit and they lost their way.Then, out of no where they found a haystack, they slept in there, there was nothing to eat or drink. then gerous Zlateh spported the little boy by feeding him her milk.Then the storm was over and they were able to find their way home. The boy's father decided that since Zlateh saved his son's life Zlateh deserves to live. Then the family live happily ever after with their beloved goat.This story has a moral to it, a very good one too!" When you least expect it, anythimg may happen!"