Download a free Shlemiel Crooks discussion guide for families or a classroom guide for school use.
Association of Jewish
2005-2006 Koret International
Jewish Book Award Finalist
BabagaNewz Childrens' Literature category
Lexile score: 1060
“In the middle of the night on a Thursday, two crooks—onions should grow in their navels—drove their horse and wagon to the saloon of Reb Elias Olschwanger, at the corner of 14th and Carr streets in St. Louis. This didn’t happen yesterday. It was 1919.” So begins Anna Olswanger’s charming folktale Shlemiel Crooks, the story of Reb Elias and the thieves who try to steal his Passover wine.
Based on a true story, Shlemiel is an imaginative introduction for young children to the history of Passover, as Pharaoh and a town of Jewish immigrants play tug-of-war with wine made from grapes left over from the exodus from Egypt.
A modern-day parable, Shlemiel has a music all its own. No other children’s book has Pharaoh’s ghost coming back to “pull one over on the Jews,” nosy neighbors making a “shtuss” outside, and a talking horse that sounds like it has a “little indigestion.” In its Yiddish-inflected English, punctuated by amusing curses, young readers hear the language of a Jewish community of another time, while delighting to brilliant illustrations on every page.
- Anna Olswanger's Shlemiel Crooks musical to premiere (April 7, 2011)
- New website created by Anna Olswanger showcases work of Berl Olswanger (May 25, 2010)
- Anna Olswanger remembers Sid Fleischman (March 23, 2010)
- Shlemiel Crooks named one of best Passover books for children (March 23, 2010)
- NewSouth Books proud to partner with PJ Library's Harold Grinspoon (March 10, 2010)
- New Jewish author website and Shlemiel Crooks audio from Anna Olswanger (November 20, 2009)
- Fire Ants, Others Praised on LibraryThing Website (June 24, 2009)
- Anna Olswanger Speaks on Children's Book Trends with Women's National Book Association (March 31, 2008)
- NewSouth Books Profiled for Publishing With a Purpose (February 19, 2008)
- Anna Olswanger Announces New Website Host-a-Jewish-Book-Author.com (January 24, 2008)
- Ninth Annual Jewish Children's Book Writers' Conference on Nov. 18, 2007 (September 20, 2007)
- Shlemiel Crooks Author Anna Olswanger Interviewed on Children's Book Podcast (June 19, 2007)
- NPR Names Shlemiel Crooks Recommended Holiday Book (December 18, 2006)
- Upcoming Engagements with Shlemiel Crooks author Anna Olswanger (November 16, 2006)
- Memphis Remembers Father of Shlemiel Crooks Author (October 24, 2006)
- Shlemiel Crooks Named Koret International Jewish Book Award Finalist (September 12, 2006)
- Shlemiel Crooks Author Announces Jewish Book Conference (September 8, 2006)