Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Brief Encounter With a Childhood Friend

Posted by Simcha 5:56 PM, under | 7 comments

When I was about 5 years-old my favorite book was about a group of rabbis who take on a coven of evil witches, and rids the nearby village of their wicked tormentors. But while I loved having the book read to me as I looked at the watercolor illustrations, each night I would have terrifying nightmares about the witches from this book. Most of the nightmares ended with my being dangled miles above a boiling cauldron, and then let go, and I would wake up screaming while I fell. In other dreams I would be chased by a witch through a maze, eventually waking up when I got caught.

My father tried to help me conqueror my nightmares by suggesting that I pour water on the witches, causing them to melt, as the rabbis in the book did ( I guess that’s where Dorothy got the idea from). But the idea of spilling water on my bedroom carpet bothered me enough that I was never willing to try it. Eventually the nightmares stopped, though I still remember them pretty vividly.

Recently I was at a second-hand bookstore when I came across a slightly battered copy of Rabbi and the Twenty-Nine Witches. I was delighted at unexpectedly running into my old childhood friend and I picked it up and leafed through the familiar pages. There are few things that I love more than getting the chance to introduce to my children some of my favorite books from when I was a kid, and I was eager to add this new find to my collection. But then I hesitated and thought back to the nightmares that this book induced. While it seemed unlikely to me that my kids would have the same reaction as I did to the story, I didn’t think I really wanted to risk it. So reluctantly I put the book back on the shelf, for someone else to take home.

Unfortunately, sometimes your childhood friends are best left in the past.


I think I remember this book as well. Huh. I remember the cover from when I was younger. :D lol. thank you for the memory! I had long forgot about this. :)

What a powerful reaction to a book! Do you think it was just the story or the illustrations or both that induced the nightmares? I'm very curious about the story now.

Melissa: Really? That's so cool that you also know this book.

Stephanie: I don't think the pictures were particularly frightening, so I'm not sure why it scared so much. I'm pretty sure this was my first introduction to witches though. So no witches for my kids ;)

How funny! I read that book to my kids as well. But they are well used to witches (the böse hexe is a regular character in German children's stories) and they love it.

Nightmares, yikes, perhaps not the best book then :)

The book I remember most from my childhood was a story about 3 kittens and their mum. They got new mittens but they got dirty, and they got sad :( But then they all got blueberrypie

I've never heard of this book before and it sounds like something worth to check out for my little sister, but since it gave you nightmares...

Great post!

G in Berlin: I'm surprised to see so many other people recognizing this book. And now I'm regretting my decision not to purchase it, if other kids don't have any problems with it.

Blodeuedd: I remember that story (though I know it as a song). I certainly wouldn't have minded having dreams about blueberry pie ;)

Leslie: Well, perhaps your sister is braver then I was ;) Besides, it doesn't seem like anyone else had any problems with this book. Perhaps I just have a particular problem with witches.

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