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Rachel's Library    by Richard Ungar order for
Rachel's Library
by Richard Ungar
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The people of Chelm decide they need to do something about their reputation for foolishness, for example for eating 'breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast'. They agree on a delegation to Warsaw, and draw (literally, as in make pictures of) straws to decide who will go.

Simon, Izzie and Myriam sketch the boldest straws and head off by cart ... with a stowaway, Simon's daughter Rachel. She passes the time reading her 'Detective Deborah' book. In Warsaw, the adults are in awe of the tall buildings, stylish clothes, and impressive technology (marketplace scales). Would emulating these change Chelm's reputation? It doesn't seem possible. It's almost time to return and they're empty-handed, when Rachel recognizes a nearby building, a library. She borrows 'The Collected Writings of the Sages of Chelm'.

How does that single book resolve the villagers' problem? Read Rachel's Library and find out for yourself. It's a rich tapestry of a tale, with many threads of irony and a layer of 'true wisdom'.

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