posted on November 02,
One position on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee will be available beginning January 1, 2011.
Applicants should be (or should become) members of AJL, familiar with the scope of Judaic children’s literature, experienced in writing critical reviews, willing and able to read and review over 120 books during the course of a year, and able to meet deadlines.
Committee members are expected to attend annual conventions and to participate in committee-sponsored events, including speaking at the Committee’s annual AJL Convention presentation. The term of membership on the Committee is four years. Each committee member typically receives more than $2,000 in books for review each year, which may be kept for personal use or added to the member’s library. Membership on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee is both fun and intellectually challenging, but it also requires a substantial commitment in terms of time and energy.
Members must be able to submit reviews electronically and correspond with other committee members through regular e-mail.
To apply, send an e-mail indicating the reasons for your interest, a resume, and several examples of your recent reviews of Jewish children’s books to Barbara Bietz, Committee Chair, at email@example.com
. Applications will be accepted through December 1, 2010.
posted on October 31,
Today I have for you an interview with graphic novel artist and writer Barry Deutsch, whose book Hereville, a graphic novel about a troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox girl launches today from Amulet Books. Barry is an accomplished artist and you can visit his website, Amptoons, to learn more. 1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background as an artist?
I was born in New York City, and raised in New York and Connecticut. I've loved comics for as long as I remember. My parents have an original "Pogo" Sunday page -- Pogo, for your readers too young to know, was one of the all-time great newspaper comic strips, the Calvin and Hobbes of its day – and I would kneel on the back of the sofa and read that page over and over again.
[caption id="attachment_577" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Barry Deutsch"]
[/caption]I remember drawing comics in junior high and in high school. I was an okay student -- sliding by on book smarts rather than hard work, a sure recipe for mediocrity -- but I took drawing classes very seriously. After attending and dropping out of Oberlin College (my poor parents!), I attended School of Visual Arts in New York City for a year, where I took Will Eisner's cartooning class. Then I moved to Massachusetts, where I wasn't a student at UMASS, but nonetheless did a daily strip in their student newspaper, which was an amazing learning experience. Next came Oregon, and finally Portland State University, the first college I actually graduated from. While there I did political cartoons in the student paper, for which I won the national Charles Schulz Award for outstanding college cartoonist. Along the way I began and abandoned any number of larger comic book projects.2. Why did you decide to write about rebellious Mirka? What interested you about her and her family? What audience did you write the book for?One of my abandoned ideas was a comic about a Jewish woman, in the middle ages, wanting to fight a dragon St George style, but facing (among other barriers) that Jews couldn't legally carry weapons at that time. I had also read Liz Harris' book Holy Days, which has many great stories of Hasidic family life, about a decade earlier. I think those things were percolating in my mind, because when my friend Jennifer Lee (the awesome cartoonist behind Dicebox.net) told me Girlamatic.com, a website for girl-friendly comics, was looking for submissions, the idea of an Orthodox 11 year old girl's quest for a sword popped to mind pretty easily.Beyond that, I had no idea what I was doing. Girlamatic said "yes," so I was making up the pages as I drew them, and in my spare time I started doing more serious research. And the more I learned, the more interested I became in Mirka's family and home life. In particular, Stephanie Levine's book Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers was very inspirational to me – in particular, how girl-centered life is for girls in that culture before they reach a marriageable age, and how incredibly spirited and strong Levine found the girls she met to be.The main audience I write for is myself. I wanted to create a comic that I'd want to read. So it has a lot of elements I love to see in comics -- lots of humor and adventure, but also a lot of cultural information, and (I hope) interesting storytelling and layouts.
3. At the end of the day, the fanciful fable you tell about a brave girl who battles a troll turns out to have a very domesticated moral. What do you hope your readers take away from the book?I don't think of my work as having a message. If readers come away feeling attached to the characters and saying "that was a really great story," then I'm satisfied. If some readers see some deeper things then that -- if they see it as a story about ambition, and about mourning a dead parent – then I'm delighted, but it's not necessary.I am concerned with identity politics -- I'd like to see more girl-centered pop fiction, and I'd like to see more Jewish characters in popular fictions. And if other readers, especially female readers and Jewish readers, have been feeling that same hunger and so get a bit of extra pleasure out of reading Hereville, then that's great.
4. How did you develop your visual style? Do you think the comics medium is valuable for telling Jewish stories? Why or why not?Some of my visual style comes from consciously imitating other cartoonists -- I spend a lot of time trying (and failing) to get my figures to flow as smoothly as Will Eisner's did, for example. But some of it didn't seem tocome from anywhere. It's just there, and the more I draw the more apparent it becomes. Why the big muppet-like mouths, for instance? I don't know why.I think the comics medium is valuable for telling any sort of story, Jewish stories included. There is no limit, either to what stories comics can tell, or to the number of Jewish stories to be told.5. What other Jewish comics artists do you admire?I've already mentioned Will Eisner, but I'll mention him again, because he was such a spectacularly great cartoonist. His drawing was dazzling, his layouts were innovative, and on top of all that he was the first great cartoonist to make Jewish characters the text (instead of a hidden subtext) in his work.There are so many great Jewish cartoonists! But some whose work I like are Jules Fieffer (who began his career working for Eisner), Will Elder, Al Hirschfeld (another cartoonist my parents had on their walls), Harvey Kurtzman, and more recently Art Spiegelman, Ariel Schrag, Rutu Modan, and Daniel Clowes. Oh, and just last week I picked up one of Sarah Glidden'scomics about Israel, and it was really good -- I can't wait to read her whole book.6. What are you working on now and when can we see you in print again?I'm working on the second Hereville book! Abrams hasn't yet announced the publication date, though.
Barry, thank you so much for participating and telling us about your book! Best of luck and keep in touch with what you're working on next!
Posted by Marie.
posted on October 04,
Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. Illus. by Amy Cartwright. Price Stern Sloan. Preschool. The familiar words of the children’s Hanukkah song flow along the pages of this charmingly illustrated board book. There’s a nice surprise waiting at the end: a pop-up scene with a spinning menorah.
Eight Winter Nights by Laura Kraus Melmed. Illus. by Elizabeth Schlossberg. Chronicle. Preschool-Kdg. Short verses tell the story of a family’s enjoyment of Hanukkah, from lighting the menorah to singing, dancing, eating, and giving tzedakah. The pencil and pastel illustrations in shades of rust and magenta bathe the story in a warm, cozy light. End notes give background on the holiday and its traditions.
The Hanukkah Trike by Michelle Edwards. Illus. by Kathryn Mitter. Albert Whitman. Kdg. – Gr. 2. A little girl named Gabi is thrilled to receive a new tricycle at the end of the first night of Hanukkah. She names it “Hanukkah” but is daunted when she tries to ride it and falls off. The story of the Maccabees inspires her to persevere and her success is captured in bright paintings as well as in a rather bland text.
Happy Hanukkah Lights by Jacqueline Jules. Illus. by Michelle Shapiro. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Preschool. Rhymes, counting, and Jewish traditions are combined in this board book that shows a family’s joyful Hanukkah celebrations on all eight nights. The illustrations are cheerful and child-like.
Jackie’s Gift: A True Story of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson. Illus. by E. B. Lewis. Viking. Gr. 1-4. When young Steve Satlow helps his neighbors, the family of the baseball great, Jackie Robinson, trim their Christmas tree, he tells them that his family has no tree of their own. Not realizing that the Satlows are Jewish, Jackie delivers them one. After a few awkward moments, the Satlows decide that for this year only, they’ll have both a menorah and a Christmas tree. Jackie Robinson’s daughter wrote this handsomely illustrated story based on real events and it abounds with friendship and understanding.
The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah by Bill Berlin and Susan Isakoff Berlin. Illus. by Peter J. Welling. Pelican. Preschool-Kdg. There is no joy in Oyville when the local kvetch steals all of the menorahs. But fear not: the town’s brave children confront the old man, regale him with the story of the Macabbees and the true meaning of Hanukkah, and accomplish a miracle by opening the kvetch’s heart and mind to the joy of the holiday. Unpolished but energetic illustrations abound in a zany story that is meant to remind children of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.
Maccabee! The Story of Hanukkah by Tilda Balsley. Illus. by David Harrington. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Kdg. - Gr.3. The story of how Judah and the Maccabees fought the tyrant Antiochus for religious freedom o the Jews and the restoration of the Temple is retold in this animated rhyme punctuated by a repeated refrain: "Sometimes it only takes a few,/ Who know what's right, and do it, too." The rhythmic narrative is enhanced by bold paintings and would lend itself to readers' theatre.
posted on August 29,
A recommended reading list from AJL's Jewish Valuesfinder:Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express
. Illus. by Shahar Kober. Kar-Ben/Lerner. The chipper trio of railroad engineers first met in Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride builld a sukkah and place it on the train to share with all their friends along the tracks from Jaffa to Jerusalem. ( Kdg; Primary)Even Higher: A Rosh Hashanah Story
by Eric A. Kimmel. Illus. by Jill Weber. Holiday House. A skeptic is convinced of the rabbi's holiness in this lively retelling of one of I. L. Peretz's best-loved stories. (Primary; Elementary)
Greater than Gold and Silver
by Rav Naftali Ehrmann. Illus. by Chedvah Rubin. Feldheim. A lavishly illustrated Sukkot story about the mitzvah of the etrong, written from an Orthodox point of view. (Primary; Elementary)New Year at the Pier
by April Halprin Wayland. Illus. by Stefane Jorisch. Dial Books for Young Readers.
Izzy, his family, and members of their congregation gather at the pier to symbolically cast away their sins in the ceremony of tashlich. Action and emotions are captured by the lilting illustrations. (Preschool; Primary) WINNER OF A SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD
.Sammy Spider's First Simhat Torah
by Sylvia A. Rouss. Illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Sammy and his human buddy, Josh, learn what the holiday is all about and Sammy takes a ride to shul on a candy apple! (Preschool; Primary)
The Secret Shofar of Barcelona
by Jacqueline Dembar Greene. Illus. by Doug Chayka. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Secret Jews find a way to blow the shofar in plain sight during a concert for the Spanish nobility. Set in Spain during the Inquisition, the story celebrates faith and courage. (Primary; Elementary)Sukkot Treasure Hunt
by Allison Ofanansky. Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern. Kar-Ben/Lerner. After building their sukkah, an Israeli child and her parents search the hills and valleys of the Gallilee for myrtle, willow, palm, and citron. Color photographs add realism to a story set in Israel. (Primary; Elementary)Tashlich at Turtle Rock
by Susan Schnur. Illus. by Alex Steele-Morgan. Kar-Ben/Lerner. Primary. A family custom - walking in the woods on Rosh Hashanah - offers an idyllic view of the ceremony of tashlich. (Primary)Today is the Birthday of the World
by Linda Heller. Dutton. A beautifully illustrated story about animals and children doing their best. Although Rosh Hashanah is never mentioned, the theme reflects the holiday's meaning. (Preschool; Primary)
posted on June 27,
The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak
, by Tomek Bogacki. Published 2009 by FSG Kids' Books. Hardcover.
The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak
is alternately moving, sad and hopeful. Janusz Korczak, doctor, writer, activist and advocate for children, was born Henryk Goldzmit in 1878 in Poland. Although his own family was well-off, even as a child he felt a great deal of compassion and concern for those, especially children, without his comforts. He fantasized about sweeping in on a white horse to rescue poor children, and when he grew up he became a doctor and founded an orphanage for poor children where they would receive basic care. Importantly, they would also learn to take care of each other- and to care for each other. Over time he started another orphanage and even a newspaper run by the children.
When Polish Jews were forced into the Krochmalna Street ghetto, Korczak tried to maintain a sense of routine and safety for the children by organizing life the best he could and looking for anything and anyone to help them. Ultimately Korczak and his children perished in the Holocaust, but he left behind a legacy of hope and purpose in helping other and following one's dreams.
The book itself is beautifully illustrated and sweetly and simply told and shows how one person can make a difference in the lives of so many, simply by doing what is right. It's a wonderful book to share with children and adults.
Nonfiction Monday is a moving meme headquartered at Picture Book of the Day
and hosted this week at Bookish Blather
posted on June 23,
Today I have the privilege of sharing an interview I recently conducted with author Carla Jablonski, who's written many books for teens and young adults. You can visit her website and find out more about her and her books at carlajablonski.com
. Her first graphic novel, Resistance: Book 1
, has recently been published by First Second. What follows is a conversation we had about this book, which focuses on the French resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II and in particular about the efforts of a French family to save French Jews.
So much! As an American, what I learned in school was primarily about the American entrance into the war, or very specifically about the Jewish experience. I really didn’t know all that much about what it must have been like for ordinary French people during the war, their daily life, their struggles, and -- especially -- the ways life, although altered, still went on.
I admit I was shocked by the wide-spread and deep strain of anti-Semitism in France, resulting in an overwhelming amount of denunciations. I was also surprised by -- and then used as part of the story -- all of the conflicts within the Resistance itself.
The role of luck and coincidence in many of the successful -- or tragic -- events of the Resistance also was quite startling.
And of course, all the research got me asking the question: “What would I do if my country were occupied?”
- The narrative, while fictional, is based in historical fact and makes reference to several historical events and circumstances. The Velodrome d'Hiver roundup, the use the Paris sewers as hiding places and the significant presence of French Jews in the Resistance are all alluded to, and although it's not named explicitly, Paul and Marie's efforts to help Henri recall the activities of the Oeuvre de secours aux enfants (Children's Relief Efforts or OSE). When you were researching all this for the book, did you learn anything that surprised you about the Resistance or about France during the war, or anything else?
The passion and commitment of people who became part of the Resistance was very compelling to me. How people made choices, what they were willing to risk, and conversely, what lines they weren’t willing to cross were all elements I wanted to explore. Also, the struggle for victory against enormous odds while suffering terrible difficulties is both dramatic and inspiring. I also find the idea of secrets a very appealing subject for fiction-- keeping them, having them, and the danger of them -- particularly as an element in a book for early teens.
For all those same reasons that I was drawn to the Resistance is why I think it’s an important subject for children to learn about. Children often feel helpless in the face of conflicts created by adults. These people took action -- in spite of so much being against them and the dire consequences of failure. Doing the right thing, even if that makes you the minority, is also an important lesson. Discovering that people can all want to do the right thing, yet not agree on how to go about it is also an important topic that can be discussed via the Resistance.
- What was it about the Resistance that intrigued you? Why is it an important subject to learn about in the context of Holocaust studies for children?
I’ve written a lot for kids and teens, so I actually didn’t find that difficult. I guess I’ve somehow internalized those limits and so the story unfolds in an age-appropriate way without my consciously having to police it!
I think the ideal reader for this is probably about thirteen, though I hope it will appeal to those older (like Sylvie and Jacques) and to those who are younger, like Marie.
- One thing I enjoyed about the book from a reader's perspective was the way you built the suspense slowly and tell the story unflinchingly, sparing neither the horror nor trauma of war. Was it challenging to present these things in a way that's appropriate for children? What audience did you envision as you were writing?
I purposely chose to have three children at different ages so that I could explore the impact of the war at different levels of maturity. Because it’s a graphic novel, I decided to make Paul an artist to really exploit the visual medium. I came up with ideas for his drawings in his sketchbook to reveal what he’s feeling but wouldn’t feel comfortable expressing another way -- while also providing a believable skill that would make him valuable to the Resistance. It was also really important to me to not just be historically accurate (while also being entertaining) but to allow the kids to really be kids -- not little superheroes or overly noble. I worked hard on the dialogue so that it would have the feel of real conversation.
- What themes or ideas were you trying to illustrate with the choices you made about how to tell the story?
Actually there are two more! It’s a trilogy, following Marie, Paul, and Sylvie through to the liberation of Paris. Each book is set one year apart, and as the kids get older and more deeply involved, the conflicts get more intense and the stakes get higher. Their roles in the Resistance change, they uncover more secrets about people they know, and their relationships change -- with friends, with other Resistance members, with Germans, and even with each other -- sometimes quite dramatically!
Carla, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to AJL and best of luck with the trilogy!
- This book is titled Resistance Book 1, suggesting that there may be a Book 2 in the works. Is there? What's it going to be about?
posted on June 16,
, a comics imprint part of Macmillan, has two graphic novels out now that may be of interest to Judaic libraries that collect for children.
[caption id="attachment_313" align="alignleft" width="140" caption="City of Spies, by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan. Artwork by Pascal Dizin"]
[/caption]City of Spies
, by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan, with artwork by Pascal Dizin. ISBN 978-1-59643-262-8.In the comics Evelyn draws in secret, the heroic Zirconium Man and his loyal sidekick Scooter always beat the bad guys and save the day. But quiet, lonely Evelyn never imagined she could be a hero, too.So Evelyn can hardly believe it when she and her new friend Tony uncover a deadly plot being carried out by Nazi spies, right in their neighborhood. Together, the two pals set out to save the day- and help win the war!
[caption id="attachment_314" align="alignright" width="140" caption="Resistance Book 1, by Carla Jablonski and Leland Purvis"]
[/caption]Resistance Book 1
, by Carla Jablonski and Leland Purvis. ISBN 978-1-59643-291-8.World War II is raging across Europe, but life goes on in the small French village where Paul Tessier lives. With his father being held as a prisoner of war by the German army, it's up to Paul to be the man of the house. Paul has more to worry about than just his own family: his best friend, Henri Levy, is Jewish. When Henri's parents vanish, Paul and his sister Marie construct a plan to hide Henri from the Germans.But soon their secret leaks out...to the Resistance! This organization of loyal French women and men fights against the German occupiers in any way they can. Now Paul, Marie, and Henri are about to become the Resistance's youngest recruits.
Stay tuned to the AJL blog for an interview with Carla Jablonski, coming soon!
posted on June 07,
The Man Who Flies with Birds
, by Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem. Published 2009 by Kar-Ben Publishing. Hardcover.
Today's Nonfiction Monday features Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem's wonderful book, The Man Who Flies with Birds. The Man Who Flies with Birds
is a profile of Yossi Leshem, an internationally recognized bird expert who has spent much of his life researching bird-migration problems over Israel so as to prevent injuries and deaths to both birds and humans by reducing the number and frequency of "bird strikes"- incidences where a bird or group of bird strikes a man-made aircraft, which causes numerous accidents every year.
As it happens, Israel is an important part of worldwide bird migration and studying this problem has lead to a greater understanding of bird behavior. This detailed, beautifully written book gives an impressive overview of many elements of the problem- everything from the physics of bird flight to the effects of thermals, or so-called "elevators of the sky" on birds' flight paths and migratory habits.
One of Leshem's main goals has been to increase awareness of bird conservation and protection, as well as to save human lives. The success of his work has depended on cooperation from neighboring countries and now several countries in the region are in the early stages of building a regional warning system to alert each other of bird migrations and possible problems for aircraft.The Man Who Flies with Birds
is a wonderful book to share with children. Illustrated throughout with photographs as well as scientific illustrations, its complex information is accessible and easy to read. It's a fascinating, informative story of one man's work to make the skies a little safer and children will learn a little science along with a good message about caring for nature.
Nonfiction Monday is a moving meme headquartered at Picture Book of the Day
and hosted this week at Charlotte's Library
posted on May 07,
List compiled by Kathe Pinchuck, Outgoing Chair, Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
The All-of-a-Kind Family Series is a quintessential example of the Jewish America story. While many books which received the award named in Sydney Taylor’s memory are about immigrants from Eastern Europe who passed through Ellis Island and lived on the Lower East Side of New York City, the Jewish American experience includes unique rituals, challenges of combining traditional Jewish values with modern American life, and carving out an identity with which one is comfortable:
2010 Sydney Taylor Book Awards
Davies, Jacqueline. Lost. Tarrytown, New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2009. ISBN: 978-0761455356. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire provides the backdrop for this historical novel about friendship and loss. (Honor Award Winner for Teen Readers)
Friedman, Robin. The Importance of Wings. Watertown, Massachusetts: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2009. ISBN: 978-158-89330-5. The title of this coming-of-age novel refers to both the layered hairstyle Roxanne wants but cannot achieve with her straight locks, and what happens when an Israeli teen who wants to be more American discovers her inner beauty and self confidence with the help of a friend. (Award Winner for Older Readers)
Greene, Jacqueline Dembar. Rebecca Series (American Girl Collection). Illustrated by Robert Hunt. Middleton, Wisconsin: American Girl, 2009. ISBN: Various. The latest historical character lives on the Lower East Side in 1914, hopes to be an actress, and tries to balance an American way of life with traditional Jewish values. (Notable Books for Older Readers)
Hoberman, Mary Ann. Strawberry Hill. Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. New York: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009. ISBN: 978-0316041362. When her family moves from New Haven to Stamford, Allie Sherman has to adjust to making new friends, juggle alliances, and handle the disappointment that her new street, Strawberry Hill, is not the bucolic, strawberry-laden lane she had envisioned. (Notable Book for Older Readers)
Ostow, Micol. So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother). Art by David Ostow. Woodbury, Minnesota: Flux, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-7387-1471-4. The Ostows combine graphic novel vignettes filled with sarcastic commentary with a coming-of-age novel in which Ari Abramson is struggling to find his true calling and identity while also trying to fit in, hoping that playing a band will win him popularity and the girl of his dreams. (Notable Book for Teen Readers)
Tal, Eve Goldberg. Cursing Columbus. El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-933693-59-0. Told in the duel voices of Raizel and Lemmel in alternating chapters and scenarios, Tal crafts a realistic and poignant picture of an immigrant family’s struggles in the early 20th century. (Notable Book for Teen Readers)
Wayland, April Halprin. New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story. Illustrations by Stéphane Jorisch. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2009. ISBN: 978-080373279-7. The author employs her own memories of community tashlich at the beach in this loving, charmingly illustrated description of Izzy and his family and friends as they gently apologize for misdeeds, grant forgiveness, and toss breadcrumbs into the sea as part of their Rosh Hashanah observance. (Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Weber, Elka. Yankee at the Seder. Illustrations by Adam Gustavson. Berkeley, California: Tricycle Press, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58246-256-1. Based on a true tale, this beautifully illustrated story recounts the participation of a “Yankee Jew,” Myer Levy, as a guest at a Virginia Passover Seder shortly after the end of the Civil War. Ten-year-old Jacob sees the words of the Haggadah ring true, as all who are hungry are welcome at the table. (Honor Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Winter, Jonah. You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? Illustrations by André Carrilho. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, 2009. ISBN: 978-0375837388. Koufax's rise from a Jewish boy in Brooklyn to one of the all-time greats of baseball as a Los Angeles Dodger is told in conversational style by an imagined teammate. A lenticular cover and magnificent artwork brings the left-hander’s style to life. (Honor Award Winner for Younger Readers)
1968-2009 Sydney Taylor Book Awards
Blanc, Esther Silverstein. Berchick. Illus. by Tennessee Dixon. Volcano, CA: Volcano Press, 1989. ISBN: 0912078812. Homesteading in Wyoming in the early 1900's, a Jewish mother develops an unusual relationship with a colt she adopts named Berchick. (1989 Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Cohn, Janice. The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate. Illus. by Bill Farnsworth. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 1995. ISBN: 0807511536 pbk. Describes how people in Billings, Montana joined together to fight a series of hate crimes against a Jewish family. (1995 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Ducharme, Dede Fox. The Treasure in the Tiny Blue Tin. Fort Worth, TX: Texas Christian University Press, 1998. ISBN: 0875651801 pbk. In the early 1900’s in Texas, a twelve-year-old Jewish immigrant runs away to search for his father who he fears is sick, and he is joined on his dangerous journey by a prejudiced country boy. (1998 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Greene, Jacqueline Dembar. One Foot Ashore. New York: Walker and Company, 1994. ISBN: 0802776019 pbk. Arriving alone and destitute in Amsterdam in the spring of 1654, sixteen-year-old Maria Ben Lazar finds refuge and friendship in the household of the artist Rembrandt and continues to search for her parents and her younger sister. (1994 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Greene, Jacqueline Dembar. Out of Many Waters. New York: Walker, 1988. ISBN: 0802774016 pbk. Kidnapped from their parents during the Portuguese Inquisition and sent to work as slaves at a monastery in Brazil, two Jewish sisters attempt to make their way back to Europe to find their parents, but instead one becomes part of a group founding the first Jewish settlement in the United States. (1988 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Heller, Linda. The Castle On Hester Street. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1982. ISBN: 0827603231 pbk. Julie's grandmother deflates many of her husband's tall tales about their journey from Russia to America and their life on Hester Street. (1982 Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Heller, Linda. The Castle on Hester Street. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN: 0689874340. A young girl visiting her grandparents learns the story of their immigration to the United States, their life on the Lower East Side of New York City, and how they met in this newly illustrated edition, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award when it was first released in 1982. (2008 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Hesse, Karen. Brooklyn Bridge. New York: Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan, 2008. ISBN: 9780312378868. While his family left the anti-Semitism of Russia to build the American dream, Joey Michtom’s dream is to visit the glittering Coney Island. Crafting a story from the spark of a true event, the invention of the Teddy Bear in 1903, Hesse masterfully weaves multiple themes of hard-work, survival, homelessness, and familial dedication. (2009 Award Winner for Older Readers)
Hest, Amy. Love You, Soldier. Illus. by Sonja Lamut. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2000. ISBN: 0763609439.Katie, a Jewish girl living in New York City during World War II, sees many dynamic changes in her world as she ages from seven to ten waiting for her father to return from the war. (2000 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Hest, Amy. When Jessie Came Across the Sea. Illus. by P.J. Lynch. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 1997. ISBN: 076361274X pbk. A thirteen-year-old Jewish orphan reluctantly leaves her grandmother and immigrates to New York City, where she works for three years sewing lace and earning money to bring Grandmother to the United States, too. (1997 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Krensky, Stephen. Hanukkah at Valley Forge. Illustrated by Greg Harlin. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2006. ISBN: 0525477381.
During the grim winter at Valley Forge, a Polish-born soldier tells General Washington about Hanukkah, who draws a parallel between the Macabbee’s war against their foes with the American war against the British oppressors. Beautiful watercolor illustrations add immeasurably to a delightful and inspirational account of this legendary encounter. (2007 Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Levitin, Sonia. Silver Days. New York: Atheneum, 1989. ISBN: 0689715706 pbk. In this sequel to Journey to America, the reunited Platt family works hard at settling in to America, but the spectre of the war in Europe continues to affect their lives. (1989 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Littman, Sarah. Confessions of a Closet Catholic. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. ISBN: 0525473653. Justine Silver struggles to balance her family’s expectations that she should be Jewish “but not too Jewish.” Frustrated, she follows a Catholic friend’s example by giving up Judaism for Lent, and thus begins a search for identity and belonging that will resonate with readers of all religions. (2005-2006 Award Winner for Older Readers)
Meyer, Carolyn. Drummers of Jericho. San Diego: Gulliver Books for Harcourt Brace, 1995. ISBN: 0152001905 pbk. A fourteen-year-old Jewish girl goes to live with her father and stepmother in a small town and soon finds herself the center of a civil rights battle when she objects to the high school band marching in the formation of a cross. (1995 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Michelson, Richard. As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom. Illustrations by Raul Colon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, 2008. ISBN: 9780375833359.
This fictionalized parallel biography of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, presents a beautiful and inspiring tribute to a little known alliance in American history. Colon’s stunning illustrations with subtle coloring bring the text, and the message of persistence, justice, and brotherhood, to life. (2009 Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Moskin, Marietta. Waiting for Mama. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1975. ISBN: 0698203194. A Russian immigrant family living in New York in the early 1900's prepares for the long-awaited arrival of their mother and baby sister. (1975 Award Winner)
Napoli, Donna Jo. The King of Mulberry Street. New York: Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 2005. ISBN: 0385746539. This powerful historical novel about an Italian-Jewish immigrant child reveals to readers that just 100 years ago, children as young as eight came to this country alone, with nothing but their wits and good luck to help them survive. (2005-2006 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Olswanger, Anna. Shlemiel Crooks. Illus. by Paula Goodman Koz. Montgomery, AL: Junebug Books, 2005. ISBN: 158838165X. Told with Yiddish inflected English, sprinkled with familiar Jewish curses and words, Anna Olswanger elaborates on the true story of the attempted robbery of her great-grandfather’s saloon in St. Louis in 1919. (2005-2006 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Polacco, Patricia. The Keeping Quilt. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988. ISBN: 0689844476 pbk. A homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith. (1988 Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Rael, Elsa Okon. Rivka’s First Thanksgiving. Illus. by Maryann Kovalski. New York: Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN: 0689839014. Having heard about Thanksgiving in school, nine-year-old Rivka tries to convince her immigrant family and her Rabbi that it is a holiday for all Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike. (2001 Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Rael, Elsa Okon. When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street. Illus. by Marjorie Priceman. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1997. ISBN: 0689804512.
While staying with her grandparents in New York City in the mid-1930’s, eight-year-old Zeesie joins in the celebration of Simchat Torah and sees a different side of her stern grandfather. (1997 Award Winner for Younger Readers)
Rosen, Sybil. Speed of Light. New York: Anne Schwartz Book/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1999. ISBN: 0689841515 pbk. An eleven-year-old Jewish girl living in the South during the 1950s struggles with the anti-Semitism and racism which pervade her small community. (1999 Award Winner for Older Readers)
Rosenblum, Richard. Journey to the Golden Land. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1992. ISBN: 082760405X. Having left oppressive czarist Russia in search of better living conditions, Benjamin and his family endure the difficult journey and land at Ellis Island to start a new life in America. (1992 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Rosenblum, Richard. The Old Synagogue. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989. ISBN: 0827603223. A once-beautiful synagogue on a crowded street in a big city is abandoned and becomes a factory when the original neighborhood inhabitants become more prosperous and move away; but as time goes by young Jewish families rediscover the area, move in, and restore to beauty the old synagogue. (1989 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Schuman, Burt E. Chanukah on the Prairie. Illus. by Rosalind Charney Kaye. New York: UAHC Press, 2002. ISBN: 080740814X. After the Zalcman family immigrates to Grand Forks, North Dakota, they are welcomed by the local Jewish community and celebrate their first Chanukah on the prairie. (2003 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Snyder, Carol. Ike and Mama and the Block Wedding. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979. ISBN: 0698204611. Rosie Weinstein is getting married on Sunday but not without a little help from the residents of East 136th Street. (1979 Award Winner)
Snyder, Carol. Ike and Mama and the Seven Surprises. New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1985. ISBN: 0688037321. Ike is very skeptical when his mother promises that he will have seven surprises in the month before his Bar Mitzvah, especially, with his father still hospitalized with tuberculosis and a newly-arrived, jobless cousin living in their small apartment. (1985 Award Winner for Older Readers)
Sugarman, Brynn Olenberg. Rebecca’s Journey Home. Illustrated by Michelle Shapiro. Minneapolis: Kar-Ben Publishing, Inc., 2006. ISBN: 1580131573. The story of a Jewish-American family who adopts a child from Vietnam is recounted with warmth and sensitivity from the adoption procedure and the trip to Asia to the baby’s first Shabbat with her new family and her conversion and naming ceremony. (2007 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
Wolf, Ferida. Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989. ISBN: 0827605315 pbk. Thirteen-year-old Alyssa tries to balance the conflicting demands of ballet training with finding her place as a Jew in today's world. (1989 Honor Award for Older Readers)
Yolen, Jane. Naming Liberty. Paintings by Jim Burke. New York: Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin, 2008. ISBN: 9780399242502. Parallel stories tell the arrival of two young ladies to the United States - Gitl, the daughter of a Russian family, who decide to emigrate to avoid the pogroms and persecution of Czarist Russia and the Statue of Liberty, conceived and developed by the young French artist Frederic Auguste Bartholdi as a commemoration for America’s centennial birthday. Illustrations in counterpart oil paint panels reflect the 19th century Eastern European village against the more modern cities of Paris and New York. (2009 Honor Award for Younger Readers)
posted on April 20,
Today we have a special treat- an interview with comics artist and author Steve Sheinkin, author of three terrific graphic novels featuring his character Rabbi Harvey: 2006's The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey
, the 2008 follow-up Rabbi Harvey Rides Again
and Rabbi Harvey vs. The Wisdom Kid
, just out this month. All three are available in paperback from Jewish Lights Publishing.1. Tell us a little about yourself and Rabbi Harvey. How did he come into your life?
That question really takes me way back to my Hebrew school days. I was bored to death by all the memorization, and my dad, seeing this, got me a book of Jewish folktales. I loved the stories, and started imagining how I would change them – mostly by adding jokes. Rabbi Harvey evolved years later, when I came up with the idea of setting Jewish folktales in the Wild West. I wanted a main character who was part rabbi, part sheriff, someone who could defeat villains without using a gun, and that led me to Harvey. His look has changed a bit since those first sketches, but he always had the unibrow. 2. Who or what influenced your particular style of art? What comics artists do you like to read?
I wasn’t a big superhero comics reader as a kid. It wasn’t till I was in my 20s that I realized you could do any kind of stores you want in comic format. Reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus
was a big part of that realization. I started little drawing comics of crummy jobs I had, and it was a lot of fun. These days I love a wide variety of artists: Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Joann Sfar, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and many more. What I love about the format is that everyone has a unique visual style. It doesn’t matter that I’m not a great artist, as long as stick to my own style.3. Why did you choose to do a book-length story after your previous two volumes of shorts?
Partly for the challenge – to see if I could string a few dozen Jewish folktales and bits of Talmudic wisdom into a cohesive plot. Also, I thought it would be fun to read. Comics are so close to movies, and I’m a huge fan of old Hollywood westerns. So it seemed natural to try to do a Harvey “movie” in comics form.4. You draw heavily from the rich tradition of Jewish folktales for all of your Rabbi Harvey stories; one of the pleasures of reading about the rabbi's adventures is recognizing familiar tales retold and learning new ones. Which ones are particularly meaningful for you? What are some that you like that haven't made into the rabbi's stories so far?
I read hundreds of stories, maybe thousands, looking for just the right ones for these books. I always wanted to use the beautiful story of the two brothers – each gets the idea of helping the other by secretly bringing wheat to the other’s barn. I finally figured out a way to work that one into the new book. I’ve also been trying to think of a way to get some of the Wise Men of Chelm stories into a Harvey book. With this new book, I realized I needed to create a whole new town, Helms Falls, Colorado, where these stories could take place. I look forward to revisiting in future volumes…5. Rabbi Harvey, a question for you. How do you feel about the way Steve Sheinkin
portrays you? Does he portray you fairly? And- what's really going on between you and Abigail?
Yes, I would say that the books are a fairly accurate portrayal of life in Elk Spring. One minor point: Steve had taken to drawing me with pants that are a little too short, and I don’t feel that’s 100 percent accurate. Overall, what I enjoy is the ability to share wisdom from thousands of years of Jewish thought. The danger, of course, is that people think I’m the one who thought up all this stuff. They think I can answer any question they throw at me. Like Steve says in the books, it’s not always easy to be the rabbi.
As for Abigail, well, I lobbied Steve to give her a larger role in this new book, and my motives were not wholly unselfish. I’m hoping her part in these stories continues to grow. But I suppose it’s not entirely up to me…Steve, thank you so much for a great interview and I'll be watching for the Rabbi's latest adventures!
You can also visit Sheinkin's webpage
or Rabbi Harvey's Facebook page