It Could Always be Worse
by Margot Zemach
A Caldecott Honor Book

The title, It Could Always be Worse, says it all. Here's the wisest of funny stories, with exuberantly hilarious illustrations to match. This book won the 1977 Caldecott Honor award.

The story is adapted from a Yiddish folktale. This is how it begins:

"Once upon a time in a small village... a poor, unfortunate man lived with his mother, his wife and his six children in a little one-room hut."

It's chaos in the overcrowded house, with adults bustling about their daily chores, and kids squabbling and getting underfoot. When the man couldn't stand it anymore, he ran to his Rabbi for help.

Well! What did he expect the rabbi to do? Build him a bigger house? Rid him of his wife and kids?

But this was a wise rabbi; he knew that if you can't change the circumstances, then the only thing to do is to change the person. So he gave the man some advice that didn't make sense at first. He told him to get the livestock into the house as well - on top of the wife, kids and grandma.

Yes, increase the man's misery - and the reader's hilarity - as chaos turned into calamity, and utter pandemonium reigned. Then everything became relative, and the "poor unfortunate man" would be so glad to get back his (relatively) quiet home once he threw the animals out... get the idea?

If you're looking for bedtime stories for kids, here's a good one. Children will get loads of laughs, and maybe a little wisdom, from the book.


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