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A CLOAK FOR THE MOON by Eric A. Kimmel


adapted by Eric A. Kimmel & illustrated by Katya Krenina

Pub Date: March 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-8234-1493-0
Publisher: Holiday House

Kimmel and Krenina (The Magic Dreidels, 1996, etc.) reconstruct a literary fairy tale from a story by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. In Kimmel's version, the tailor Haskel from Tzafat is in love with the Moon. He dreams that she has asked him for a cloak to keep her warm in the cold night sky, but he doesn't know how he will make an appropriately large and flexible garment. Acting on a tip from one of his uncle's apprentices, he sails to China and travels to a mountain city called "The Roof of the World" in search of a fabled cloth woven from light. Krenina here places lotus blossoms and Buddha faces among the winding decorations of leaves and flowers. The secret of spinning thread from light, once known in this city, has been lost, and the hem of the traditional royal wedding gown, whose fabric can fit any wearer perfectly, has come undone. Puzzling over the mystery with a magnifying glass in the moonlight, the tailor discovers that the concentrated light causes the thread to grow. He repairs the wedding dress so that the princess can be married. From a gift of a bit of the gown's thread he weaves a cloth of light, and thus is able to sew a cloak for the Moon. Krenina's gouache illustrations are both comical and poignant, lending an appropriately nimble and graceful touch to the tale. In an author's note, Kimmel identifies his source as one of the mystical tales of Rabbi Nachman, without further elaboration on the tale itself. While not obviously reflective of its Hasidic roots, the retelling is satisfying both as a story of devotion and determination and as a magical look at the nature of light. (Picture book. 4-8)