The Wooden Sword

A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan

Disguised in servant’s clothes, an Afghani shah slips out of his palace to learn more about his people. When he encounters a poor Jewish shoemaker full of faith that everything will turn out just as it should, the shah grows curious. Vowing that no harm will befall the poor man, he decides to test that faith, only to find that the shoemaker’s cheerful optimism cannot be shaken. But the biggest challenge of the poor man’s life is yet to come!

  • 32 Pages
  • 8.5" x 10.75"
  • 9780807592014
  • March 2012

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  • $16.99
  • This item is currently out of stock.
  • 9780807592038
  • March 2015

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  • Liddiment’s rich-hued paintings highlight the characters’ goodheartedness while carefully incorporating many culture-specific details and motifs; the vibrant patterns and lush costumes play well against the desert backdrop.

    - The Horn Book Magazine

  • This tale of perserverance and confidence is told with well-researched authenticity and offers a positive view of this war-torn nation.

    - Kirkus Reviews

  • Despite the man’s hardships, the simple yet elegant prose reinforces his optimistic refrain that “everything turns out just as it should.” The lush, detailed backgrounds of the spreads bring to life the various settings…Ideal for those looking to add ethnic diversity to their folktale collections.

    - School Library Journal

  • With the dramatic standoffs, readers will enjoy the uncluttered, double-page spreads and bright, detailed collage images that show the contrasts between palace and street.

    - Booklist

  • At its heart, this is a tale about maintaining a positive attitude and making the most of bad situations, and children will, with a little explaining, recognize these important themes…

    - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

  • Stampler has taken an age-old story about an Afghan ruler and created an uplifting treasure about understanding other religions. . .This tale also illustrates the power of reflection. This book would make a fine addition to any multicultural collection.

    - Library Media Connection, starred review

  • Friendly eye contact between characters rivets readers’ attention in this warm retelling of a traditional Jewish folktale where a good shah tests a poor man’s faith by throwing roadblocks in his path.

    - Jewish Book World, starred review

Awards & Accolades

  • Best Children's Books of the Year 2013, Bank Street College
  • 2013 Storytelling World Award
  • A 2013 CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
  • 2013 Honor Book, South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature
  • 2013 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Older Readers
  • NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2012


Common Core

RL.2.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10 RL.3.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10 RL.4.1,2,3,4,5,6,9


  • Accelerated Reader Points: 0.50
  • ATOS Level: 4.60