Green Bean Books

The Wise Men of Chelm and the Foolish Carp

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Written by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Illustrated by Viktoria Efremova

Price: £9.99 / $19.95
Pages: 24
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781784385699


  • A brand new publication of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s classic tale for children.

  • A humorous tale from a master storyteller, drawing on the much loved Yiddish folktales about the foolish people of Chelm.

  • Beautiful new illustrations throughout


When Chelm community leader, Gronam Ox, is given a live carp in honour of his great wisdom, he is delighted. He knows, of course, that eating the brain of a carp increases wisdom and that the size of the tail is indicative of the size of the brain. But when the carp uses that very tail to slap him across the face – in what can only have been a deliberate act – Gronam Ox is shocked. Surely no Chelm carp would have behaved in such an appalling manner. There is nothing else for it; the carp must be punished.

While Gronam Ox ponders the most fitting punishment, the carp is fed and looked after in a large tub of water stationed in the town centre. It is essential that the carp survives until the day of judgement but Gronam Ox’s deliberations are taking quite some time. The carp grows fatter and fatter until finally, many months later, Gronam Ox arrives at an apt sentence – one so clever that all the people of Chelm flock to see it exacted. The carp must be drowned.

Written for children by the master storyteller, and former Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer, this classic Yiddish folktale is infused with his signature humour, warmth and wisdom. This beautifully–illustrated new publication will bring the famously foolish people of Chelm to life for a new generation of children.

Author Details

Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Polish-born American writer who only ever wrote in Yiddish.

The author of numerous novels, short stories, stories for children, essays, articles and memoirs, he was a leading figure in the Yiddish literary movement and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978.


“This is a beautifully written and illustrated version of a classic Yiddish folktale by the brilliant Isaac Bashevis Singer. Our grandchildren loved it—recommended!” – 5-star Amazon review from Jonathan A