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Once Upon a Story

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Once Upon a Story

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Once Upon a Story
A Famous Novelist Retells Classic Stories with Passion and Spirit
By Yair Weinstock
Artscroll Series - Mesorah Publications, New York: 2007
ISBN 10: 1-4226-0588-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-4226-0588-2

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - December 24, 2007

Once Upon a Story is a marvelous collection of classic stories retold by the famous novelist, Yair Weinstock, who has penned such thrillers as The Gordian Knot, Eye of the Storm, and Time Bomb. In this volume, Weinstock turns his extraordinary skills as a novelist to the task of retelling inspiring stories that entertain as well as offer serious moral and ethical lessons.

Weinstock has a Chassidic background, and he brings the essence and vibrancy of Chassidic tradition to his writing. He infuses his stories with essential elements drawn from Jewish history and tradition that takes the reader on a realistic journey back in time. When reading the stories in this volume, I often had the feeling that I was sitting at the table listening to a mesmerizing story teller plying his trade, rather than reading the stories to myself. It was a unique experience, and one that I highly recommend!

There are more than thirty stories in this collection, and they run the gamut from miraculous holiday tales to darker stories about antisemitism, yet even the darkest of these tales has a ray of light that proves that even in the darkest of times, there is hope. Some of the more unique stories in this volume include a tale about a Jewish Priest, how an attack on Cracow's Jewish children was avenged by a river, and one about a Tzaddik from, of all places, Tibet! While many of the stories in this collection have an old world feel, Weinstock has also included a number of newer stories, such as one that touches upon the collapse of the Twin Towers and another about openly displaying ones Jewishness in a modern society that is not always as accepting as one would hope.

The stories in Once Upon a Story are an eclectic mix of old and new stories obtained from a wealth of sources, all of which are noted at the end of each tale. In addition, Weinstock's writing style is gripping and he has created a collection of riveting stories that will hold your attention from the first to the very last page, and which will call you back, time and time again, to reread each tale and to discover new meaning and new inspiration in each unforgettable story.

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