“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”
– Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls
Retold by: Izzi Tooinsky
Illustrated by: Edwina White
Genre: Picture book, children’s fiction
Own copy of the book.
In The Turkey Prince, Izzi Tooinsky retells the classic Hasidic tale written by Rebbe Nachman, founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement. The rabbi made use of poetic texts and mythical stories to teach his religious philosophy to his followers. Although he died at a young age of 38 due to tuberculosis, he was considered to be the most creative, influential and profound masters of his movement. (Visit the Jewish Virtual Library for more information.)
Izzi Tooinsky expanded the original tale and turned it into a heartwarming story about a young prince who, feeling pressured to give a speech to the royal court, decided to be a turkey.
[H]e jumped off the table and ran through the palace. Then suddenly he threw off his velvet cape and he ripped away his satin shirt. He tore his silk pants to pieces and yanked off his red socks. He ran into the kitchen, squatted under the table, and began to gobble like a turkey.
There’s more to this than meets the eye.
[T]he young prince did not want to be a turkey. He did not choose to be a turkey. But when he thought of himself leading and caring for the people, like his father and mother did, it was very clear that he was a turkey, and a turkey cannot be king…
The king and queen were so alarmed by this behavior that they summoned doctors, nurses, sages, and monks all over the kingdom to find a cure for their son. Alas, none of the bad-tasting potions and icky lotions worked. An unknown healer stopped by the castle and offered to cure the Turkey Prince. How this healer dressed in shabby clothes cured the Turkey Prince, I leave for you readers to discover.
What was originally a Jewish teaching turned out to be a beautiful story about self-worth and self-esteem. It was even thought of as a “psychological cure” for people, especially children, who do not trust themselves enough that they can do anything and be anything. (Being a turkey not counted!) I was happy to find this book for $1 at Book Off. I found out only this morning, when I was taking a second look at the book, that this book had Izzi Tooinsky’s autograph in it! What a precious find!
The artists who collaborated for this book are strangely beautiful themselves.
Described by the LA Times as a cross between Garrison Keillor and Cirque du Soleil, Izzi Tooinsky is both a juggler and storyteller, incorporating enchanting tales with his juggling acts. His unique traveling show is called Little Giant Theater, and has appeared across the United States, Tanzania, and Australia. On days that he isn’t juggling, Izzi Tooinsky is a substitute teacher at Lyman Gilmore Middle School in California. In the school website, they posted his essay about being a substitute teacher, and why substitute teaching is only for the brave. To read full article, please click here. Izzi Tooinsky also wrote a book for children entitled, “It’s OK to be Different.” For more information about Izzi Tooinsky and his Little Giant Theater, you may visit his website.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Edwina White is a juggler herself. In her bio, it was noted that after graduating with the University Medal, she taught classes for four years at UTS and UWS while freelancing as an illustrator, fine artist, writer and performer. Her work, 52 Pick-up, based on a packet of playing cards, has been has been exhibited in the UK, Japan, Russia, throughout Australia and the USA. Her artworks are cartoonish in nature, and the unique portraits complement the strange and beautiful story of The Turkey Prince. You may visit her website to be more acquainted with her works. Here is an editorial artwork she made for Korean Air entitled “Self Help Bookpile.”