Shlemiel Crooks & Friends

Images of primary sources, illustrations from the book by Anna Olswanger, and scenes from the family musical based on Shlemiel Crooks
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Anna Olswanger based her first children's book on a Yiddish newspaper article she uncovered about the attempted robbery of her great-grandfather’s kosher liquor store in St. Louis in 1919. After adding the ghost of Pharaoh, the prophet Elijah, and a talking horse, she was in business. SHLEMIEL CROOKS is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and PJ Library Book. A family musical based on the book premiered at Merkin Concert Hall in 2011—Art by Paula Goodman Koz. www.shlemielcrooks.com

HF Virtual Book Tours Presents Anna Olswanger’s Shlemiel Crooks Book Blast, April

Reb Elias, you should know, didn't have a sit-down kind of saloon with men coming in to guzzle whiskey. Oh, no! Reb Elias had the kind of saloon with housewives, grandmas even, coming in to buy bottles of wine and brandy, unopened of course and strictly kosher, for the Jewish Sabbath.—Illustration by Paula Goodman Koz from the book SHLEMIEL CROOKS by Anna Olswanger. www.shlemielcrooks.com

Website of Anna Olswanger, literary agent

In the middle of the night on a Thursday, two crooks—onions should grow in their navels—drove their horse and wagon to the saloon of Reb Elias Olschwanger at the corner of Fourteenth and Carr Streets in St. Louis. This didn't happen yesterday. It was 1919.—Illustration by Paula Goodman Koz from the book SHLEMIEL CROOKS by Anna Olswanger. www.shlemielcrooks.com

Website of Anna Olswanger, literary agent

1209 Carr in St. Louis, 1895. Samuel Greenberg Grocer (one block from Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Synagogue). Illustrator Paula Goodman Koz used this photograph to create the opening scene in Shlemiel Crooks.—From the The Swekosky-Notre Dame College Collection, created by Dr. William G. Swekosky, a St. Louis dentist and amateur historian. www.shlemielcrooks.com

1209 Carr in St. Louis, 1895. Samuel Greenberg Grocer (one block from Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Synagogue). Illustrator Paula Goodman Koz used this photograph to create the opening scene in Shlemiel Crooks.—From the The Swekosky-Notre Dame College Collection, created by Dr. William G. Swekosky, a St. Louis dentist and amateur historian. www.shlemielcrooks.com

So with the horse calling out, "Crooks! Crooks!" and Mankel yackety-yacking at the top of his lungs, Resnik shooting his pistol, and Mrs. Moskowitz making like she was dying from the bedbugs, all the people in the neighborhood were soon wide awake and shouting from their windows, "Gonifs! Gevalt!"—Illustration by Paula Goodman Koz from the book SHLEMIEL CROOKS by Anna Olswanger. www.shlemielcrooks.com

Website of Anna Olswanger, literary agent

STOOTS: Gertrude, you may rest your vocal chords a moment while I rhapsodize about Herbert von Gluckenpuper.  GERTIE: Yes, Miss Stoots.  STOOTS: As I may have mentioned to you before, I once sang the lead role of Little Inka in the world premiere of von Gluckenpuper’s magnum opus, Die Bluckenstockershmerz. As Little Inka, I was transplendent…(song “IN EIGENBLICK"). From the musical Shlemiel Crooks, Merkin Concert Hall, Photo by Gabriel Rivera. www.shlemielcrooks.com

STOOTS: Gertrude, you may rest your vocal chords a moment while I rhapsodize about Herbert von Gluckenpuper. GERTIE: Yes, Miss Stoots. STOOTS: As I may have mentioned to you before, I once sang the lead role of Little Inka in the world premiere of von Gluckenpuper’s magnum opus, Die Bluckenstockershmerz. As Little Inka, I was transplendent…(song “IN EIGENBLICK"). From the musical Shlemiel Crooks, Merkin Concert Hall, Photo by Gabriel Rivera. www.shlemielcrooks.com

With the help of relatives she had never met and St. Louis historians, Anna located a number of newspaper articles that mentioned her great-grandfather "Reb Elias Olschwanger." These articles became the basis for Shlemiel Crooks. From the Postscript to the book SHLEMIEL CROOKS by Anna Olswanger. www.shlemielcrooks.com

Website of Anna Olswanger, literary agent

PHARAOH: They do the work, I get to shine— Yes, I get the praise that's duly mine!  BURT, ERNIE: And we get to steal the kosher wine!  ALL THREE: When Pharaoh,  ERNIE: When who?  ALL THREE: Nefarious Pharaoh,  BURT: Ne-what?  PHARAOH: That terrible Pharaoh,  ALL THREE:  Unbearable Pharaoh Comes to town! Song "When Pharaoh comes to Town," from the musical Shlemiel Crooks, based on the book by Anna Olswanger, Merkin Concert Hall, Photographed by Gabriel Rivera. www.shlemielcrooks.com

PHARAOH: They do the work, I get to shine— Yes, I get the praise that's duly mine! BURT, ERNIE: And we get to steal the kosher wine! ALL THREE: When Pharaoh, ERNIE: When who? ALL THREE: Nefarious Pharaoh, BURT: Ne-what? PHARAOH: That terrible Pharaoh, ALL THREE: Unbearable Pharaoh Comes to town! Song "When Pharaoh comes to Town," from the musical Shlemiel Crooks, based on the book by Anna Olswanger, Merkin Concert Hall, Photographed by Gabriel Rivera. www.shlemielcrooks.com

1215-1217 Franklin in St. Louis, 1895. North side of Franklin, looking east (three blocks from Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Synagogue). Illustrator Paula Goodman Koz used this photograph to create one of the outdoor scenes in Shlemiel Crooks.—From the The Swekosky-Notre Dame College Collection, created by Dr. William G. Swekosky, a St. Louis dentist and amateur historian. www.shlemielcrooks.com

1215-1217 Franklin in St. Louis, 1895. North side of Franklin, looking east (three blocks from Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Synagogue). Illustrator Paula Goodman Koz used this photograph to create one of the outdoor scenes in Shlemiel Crooks.—From the The Swekosky-Notre Dame College Collection, created by Dr. William G. Swekosky, a St. Louis dentist and amateur historian. www.shlemielcrooks.com

Anna Olswanger never knew her great-grandparents Elias and Dora Olschwanger, not even their names, until 1982. That was the year she made the first of several trips to St. Louis to research her family tree. From the Postscript to the book SHLEMIEL CROOKS by Anna Olswanger. www.shlemielcrooks.com

Website of Anna Olswanger, literary agent

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