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Yakov and the Seven Thieves [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Madonna , Gennadij Spirin

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Gebundene Ausgabe, 21. Juni 2004 --  
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21. Juni 2004
Drittes von fünf wunderbaren, klassischen Kinderbüchern, voller Inspiration, Humor und mit eindrucksvollen Illustrationen versehen, geschrieben von Pop-Ikone Madonna.

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This is the third book in the highly successful illustrated series by Madonna.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Madonna is an international celebrity and mother, making this exciting move into picture books. She is married to screenwriter/director Guy Ritchie and has two children, Lourdes and Rocco. They divide their time between London and Los Angeles.

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ONCE UPON A TIME, IN A VERY small village tucked away between two mountains, there lived a cobbler named Yakov. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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Amazon.com: 4.2 von 5 Sternen  19 Rezensionen
31 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A moral tale from the Material Girl 29. Juni 2004
Von Eric J. Lyman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I had occasion to read Yakov and the Seven Thieves on a recent visit to some friends who have small children and I have to admit I was absorbed by the book's star power. And the story from pop music icon Madonna isn't bad either.
Which is a way of saying that I think the real star of this book is Russian illustrator Gennadii Spirin, who manages to create a magical eastern European world of fanciful architecture and fashion and dreamlike snowy settings using mostly color washings and a trusty No. 2 pencil. The five- and seven-year-old children I read the story to already knew the book before I arrived, and it was the illustrations and not the story that had them giggling in delight.
That said, the story itself is pretty good. Madonna's writing style is crisp and fresh -- probably something she developed by writing some of the world's best-known pop songs over the last generation. She seems very comfortable in her role as a storyteller, at least until the last pages, when the story becomes rushed in order to tie everything up while making sure that the moral isn't lost on its diminutive audience. But the kids didn't seem to mind that.
The story is about a fellow called Yakov, a village cobbler with a sickly child. When the traditional medicine and the town's wisest elder all fail to help the poor boy, Yakov turns to a cast of characters whose names give a clue to their morals: Ivan the Arsonist, for example, or Vladimir the Villain. The boy is miraculously cured. The point is that we've all got a little bit of Vladimir the Villain in us, and if we are bold enough to admit that and fight these dark tendencies, well, then anything is possible.
I am no expert about contemporary children's books, but the moral seems a bit more religious than Mother Goose and the Grimm's Fairytales I grew up with. Again that's a likely reflection on the author, who is famously devoted to Kabbalah, a kind of Jewish mysticism. Fortunately, it is the philosophy's moral values and not its mysticism that shines through.
Using the old schoolhouse grading system, I'd call it a sold B -- good enough to consider buying for children in the appropriate age group, but not quite good enough to stop you from wondering if you'd even be thinking about it if it had not been written by one of the world's most recognized popular culture figures.
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT! 1. Juli 2004
Von D. Blankenship - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I like to keep an eye on the readings of my grandchildren, ergo, I picked this one up. I am not a great fan of Madonna, the singer, but I must say this is a delightful book, well thoughtout, good story, wonderful illustrations. I think perhaps I have underrated this young lady. She is certainly tallented. I highly recommend adding this book to your childs library..it is well worth the read.
16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent book! 28. Juni 2004
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Understand, yes, I am a longtime Madonna fan. I found "The English Roses" to be charmingly written and a nice lesson but the artwork was somewhat more avant garde than found in most children's books. Whether or not you think that's a bad thing is totally up to you. Meanwhile, her next, "Mr. Peabody's Apples", was less succesfully written, although it still contained a nice morality tale, but this time featured Norman Rockwell meets Edward Hopper art work by Loren Long that was just beautifully evocative of 1950's Americana. This time, both the writing and the artwork come together to form a coherent and magnificent whole. The story is about the power of prayer, but in an extraordinarily non-denominational manner. Here, Madonna does not suggest any particular religious affiliation outside of one that is monotheistic, and the message comes off well without being preachy. Also, she manages to envelop you in the tale in a way she didn't in the other two books, to the point where you forget that Madonna the superstar wrote this book and it becomes simply a nice children's story. The artwork is also gorgeous, reflecting the Russian roots of the story, the illustrator clearly drew inspiration from Russian Orthodox iconography to create beautiful images. I do, however, think this tale, with it's spiritual themes, may be more well suited to slightly older children. Don't buy this book because Madonna wrote it, and don't ignore this book because Madonna wrote it. Just experience it for yourself and give it a chance. You won't be disappointed.
75 von 97 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen I was slightly touched (for the very first time) 23. August 2004
Von E. R. Bird - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
To say that "Yakov and the Seven Thieves" is the best book Madonna has written to date is much like saying, "Ibberty flibberty gibberty goo". Which is to say, it's not saying much. Now, it is very difficult for a reviewer such as myself to read and review this book without pounds of prejudice weighing on my head. I'll be perfectly honest with you: I am a librarian. One of the thousands that took offense when Madonna announced that her reason for writing children was as follows: "Now I'm starting to read to my son, but I couldn't believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were". Presumably Madonna must've been reading the latest "Dora the Explorer" to her son. Or perhaps she had been given a copy of "Love You Forever". In any case, this inane reason for writing some picture books of her own spawned some of the foulest bits of treacle ever to grace the shelves of bookstores and libraries worldwide. If you think "Rainbow Fish" sends a poorly spelled out message, I assure you that it has NOTHING when compared to Madonna's hokey schmaltz-fest "Mr. Peabody's Apples".

So as you can see, I'm not exactly an unbiased reader. Still, "Yakov and the Seven Thieves" looked different from her other stories. Unlike "The English Roses" (moral: Pretty people are nice too) and "Mr. Peabody's Apples" (moral: In small town America, gossip is naughty) this story looked a little classier. It was written as a fable (good), with a delightful illustrator at the helm (good) and some really original elements in terms of characters and descriptions (very good). Then I got to the end of the tale and the whole kerschmazzle blew up in my face. Though she definitely starts strong and has a good idea of what her plot shoudl be, in the end "Yakov and the Seven Thieves" is still weakety weak weak.

In this tale, there was once a poor cobbler named Yakov. Yakov had a single son whom he loved very very much. Unfortunately the boy was often sickly and weak. In desperation, Yakov searched out the wisest man in town, an older gentleman who lived with his grandson alone. The wise man hears Yakov's problem and attempts to pray to God to save Yakov's son. This doesn't go particularly well and Yakov is distraught. In a moment of inspiration, the wise man tells his grandson to gather the most despicable thieves in town and bring them to his home. The seven thieves comes (apparently thieves are religious at heart) and when asked by the old man to pray for Yakov's son. They do so, the son is miraculously cured, and a sappy message about how the thieves were symbolically opening the gates of heaven sums the book up. Then there's an odd tacked on ending in which a thief named Boris the Barefoot Midget returns the grandson's stolen shoes and, when told he can keep them, scurries down the road. The end.

I'm a big big fan of a well told folktale and for quite some time Madonna was doing really well on this story. She has a nice section at the beginning about how Yakov enjoyed the scenery of his home, "the magical forests, the crystal-clear streams, and the majestic snowcapped mountains that rose before him in the distance". She does especially well when describing the different thieves (with the possible exception of the somewhat offensive Boris the Barefoot Midget). But Madonna isn't particularly good at summarizing the morals of her tales. Though it sounds funny to hear it, Madonna is the preachiest children's author I've ever read, outside of Christian fiction itself. If you're into incredibly didactic religious picture books, methinks "Yakov" is for you. The book ends happily because the thieves, afraid that the wise old man is magical and potentially dangerous ("Was he a wizard?... Did he have magical powers?") suddenly decide that because he's sincere (they're bad guys... but not too bad) they should pray for a little sick boy they've never seen.

Some people will be very touched by this tale. Others will find themselves stumbling a little over the stilted language employed (I dare you to find a single contraction in this entire book). Still more will enjoy the book, get to the ending, and find themselves uncomfortable with its overly earnest preaching. Now, the illustrations in this puppy are fan-freakin'-tastic, no question. They're beautifully rendered and bring a lifelike vibrancy to the various sundry thieves. My favorite shot in this tale, bar none, is the picture of the Angel of Death hovering over the sleeping sick lad. This is a gorgeous tale to flip through. If you'd like to just buy the book and cut out the pictures to frame on your wall, that would undoubtedly be the best use of this creation. Just don't bother reading it or anything.

I'm being rather harsh, I admit. As I mentioned before, I'm biased. I don't know how much a biased review is worth to you. But as long as you understand exactly where I'm coming from, this review should give you some kind of an indication as to how good or bad Madonna's third book is. I have said that it's the best of the three she's written so far. Still, if you want a picture book that tells a didactic fable about faith in a cold Russian land, try the Caldecott winning (and mind-blowingly illustrated) "Baboushka and the Three Kings" by R. Robbins. If you want a picture book that tells an amusing and original folktale, try the outrageous "Swamp Angel" by Anne Isaacs (more of a tall tale than a folktale admittedly) or the fabulous "It Could Always Be Worse" by Margot Zemach. And if you want a picture book written by a pop star with seemingly little experience writing good books for children but that is just a tinge more saccharine than is comfortable, try the tepid, "Yakov and the Seven Thieves".
23 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Beautifully illustrated but poorly written 6. Oktober 2004
Von JK - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
If the text had matched the classic illustrations in this book, it would have deserved ten stars. The storyline and message are wonderful. Unfortunately the style is uneven. The author switches back and forth between an older and appropriate storytelling style and smarty ("When they had all finished belching and farting and behaving like twits, they grew very quiet.") modern ("Yakov's heart was broken, and I felt his pain") language. I appreciate the author's efforts to bring stories with moral messages to children, and I hope that she will get some help with her writing skills.
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