When the prince decided to leave the splendor of his life as royalty behind and become a rooster, only one man could save him. The king and queen had tried doctors and magicians, but nothing worked. Only one old man was left to try. The old man joined the prince in his fantasy, also acting like a rooster by removing his clothes and pecking at the floor. This went on for a day. At the end of the second day, the old man pointed to two mattresses that had been placed in the room and asked the prince what they were. The man then asked why people should be the only ones to sleep comfortably and the prince agreed. They both slept on mattresses that night. The next day, black bread arrived. And through similar persuasion, the man got the prince to eat. This progressed until there was a table and chairs and a warm blanket. On the sixth day, they wore clothes again. And on the seventh day, there was the Sabbath feast. In the end, the prince returned to being a prince, but always remembered that he had once been a rooster.
Stampler has taken this beloved Yiddish folk tale and tuned it for modern audiences. She allows the humor of the situations to stand on their own, not overplaying it at all. Her writing has a nice arc that speaks to the overwhelming nature of indulgence and the need to sometimes throw it all away. She also honors the teachers of the world, those that listen and understand, those that join us right in the trenches of life and help us navigate them. The book reads aloud nicely with each day carrying repetition from the first, underlining the folk tale heritage of the story.
Yelchin’s illustrations are wonderfully peculiar, suiting the story well. He uses interesting perspectives to show the man and the prince together, sometimes from above, sometimes from behind, sometimes from the side. It lends a lot of dynamism to the book. The illustrations are brightly colored and unique.
A book about finding wisdom and learning to be a man by becoming a rooster, this folk tale is a delight to read. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.