A Podcast About Jewish Kidlit (Mostly)

Listen with Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or TuneIn, or anywhere else using our RSS Feed.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

No Entry (Books in the Time of Coronavirus)

In response to the pandemic, The Book of Life is hosting a special series, Books in the Time of Coronavirus. Authors or illustrators of new Jewish books, whose promotional events have been cancelled due to quarantine, are invited to promote their books on the podcast.

The first episode in this special series features Gila Green, author of No Entry, a novel for youth about elephant poaching in South Africa, starring a Jewish eco-heroine.




Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Family Meeting

Today my husband Matthew joins me to help me run a Book of Life "Family Meeting." We've got a lot on the agenda. Listen for all the details and click the links below to get more information.
  1. Books in the Time of Coronavirus
  2. Love Your Neighbor List #6: Passover
  3. Stand Up
  4. Transcripts - click on the transcript link for each episode
  5. Support
  6. Feedback
  7. Jewish Kidlit Mavens
  8. The Sydney Taylor Shmooze
  9. The Book of Life Trailer
We will soon be bringing you recordings from authors whose spring book tours have been cancelled, as part of the Books in the Time of Coronavirus series, but we'll also be publishing some of our regular in-depth interviews, recorded before the virus crisis. Watch for episodes about A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi & Laura Shovan, and A Ceiling Made of Eggshells by Gail Carson Levine.




Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

PragmaticMom Blog Recommends Jewish Books

Mia Wenjen is the co-founder of Multicultural Children's Book Day, the blogger at Pragmatic Mom, and the author of the picture book Sumo Joe and the resource guide Best #OwnVoices Children's Books. When I learned about her #OwnVoices guide, I was excited to see whether Jewish books were included. I was glad to find that there were Jewish titles among her recommendations, but disappointed that they represented only the Holocaust experience. Luckily, Mia was open to further recommendations. She expressed some frustration in identifying the Jewish background of authors to determine whether their books qualified as #OwnVoices, and was glad of assistance.

I sent Mia a list of Jewish #OwnVoices titles that I thought she might like, and the result is this lovely post in which she reviews the books in her own voice! I'm so pleased that I was able to help Mia bring some worthy Jewish titles to a wider audience.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020


If you have written or illustrated a new Jewish book, I invite you to take part in The Book of Life's COVID-19 response, Books in the Time of Coronavirus.
I know the coronavirus closures are affecting many book launches with cancelled tours, school visits, book birthdays, etc. If you are an author or illustrator in that situation, I invite you to virtually promote your book on The Book of Life Podcast. Here's how: I will supply a few questions for you to answer. You record yourself and send me the audio file. 

During this crazy pandemic, I'm glad to find a way to do something constructive. Thanks for participating in this podcasting project! Please read all instructions below and let me know if you have any questions. Thanks! - Heidi

  • This project is meant to help those whose promotional events got cancelled due to coronavirus shutdowns. For now, I'm looking for those who were planning to promote new books at events March-May. If the shutdowns continue beyond that, I'll extend the project.
  • Jewish books for kids or adults are welcome.
  • Please aim for a recording of  less than 15 minutes.
  • Be aware that I may edit your recording for clarity or length.
  • If possible, please send me your recording by March 31, 2020. If that's impossible, send it as soon as you can after that. 
  • If you are able to send me a review copy of the book, I would appreciate it, but you can still participate even if that's not possible. If you CAN send me a book, please write to me at bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com and I'll give you my address. I understand that there might be a delay in sending review copies and that's fine.

The best way to get a recording to me is to use Otter Voice Meeting Notes  https://otter.ai/ , which is a free recording and transcription service. You can use it on your computer (if your computer has a microphone) or download the app and record on your phone. Once you've made a recording, just click the Share button near the top (looks like a person with a +) and type in Heidi Rabinowitz.
If you prefer another recording method, that's ok. Just send me the Mp3 file by email or share with me via Google Drive or Dropbox.

Note: You do not need to read the questions aloud on the recording. Instead you can incorporate the questions into your answers as in the examples below.

1. Please introduce yourself: give your name, the title and publisher of your book, and tell us when your book is coming out. You can also tell a little about yourself, such as where you live, and what book promotion events you had to cancel because of coronavirus.
EXAMPLE "Hi, this is Jane Doe, author of The Best Book Ever published in March 2020 by SuperDuper Press. I'm from Anatevka. I was going to promote my book at..."

2. Give a brief description of your book. What is it about? What age readers is it meant for?
EXAMPLE "The Best Book Ever is a picture book for elementary school readers. It's about..."

3. Tell us what inspired you to write this book.
EXAMPLE "I was inspired to write this book when I learned about..."

4. Was there anything you were saving to share on your cancelled book tour/school visit/other event, like a funny story, or a prop? A costume or your lucky outfit? Tell us about what we are missing, or tell us what you would have said at the event.
EXAMPLE "On my book tour, I was planning to tell audiences about..."

5. Where can people get your book? Keep in mind that right now e-books are the healthiest option, and online ordering is the best option after that. Personally, I like to support independent bookstores by suggesting that people order from IndieBound.org or Bookshop.org (and I try to avoid Amazon: here's why). If you agree, you can mention IndieBound.org, Bookshop.org, or independent bookstores in your answer.
EXAMPLE "People can get my book at ..."

6. You can also tell people where to find more info about you.
EXAMPLE  "You can find me online at my website at www...."
7. Is there anything else you'd like to say?
EXAMPLE "I also want to mention..."

Bonus Question: If you've listened to The Book of Life, you know I have a Tikkun Olam segment where I invite guests to share their suggestions for actions listeners can take to heal the world, big or small. Please feel free to share a Tikkun Olam suggestion.
EXAMPLE "I'd like to invite everyone listening to help heal the world with this Tikkun Olam action. I think we should all..." 

You can give closure to the recording by saying thanks, wishing people well, etc.
EXAMPLE "Thanks for having me on the show. I hope everyone stays healthy and reads lots of good books."

Let me know if you have any questions at bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Jewish Book Carnival: March 2020

The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly roundup of Jewish literary links from across the blogosphere. Here at The Book of Life, I am pleased to present the March 2020 Jewish Book Carnival!

The Association of Jewish Libraries invites Jewish and non-Jewish bloggers to participate in a new anti-bias project, Through the Window: A Diversity Exchange.

At Life Is Like a Library, Chava Pinchuck reviews the new English translation of Kalman Samuels' book, Dreams Never Dreamed.

Howard Lovy interviewed author Roberta Kwall in Publishers Weekly about her book Remix Judaism.

Shira Yael Klein reviewed the novel Don't Tell Ima on The Rachack Review.

On her My Machberet blog, Erika Dreifus routinely compiles news of Jewish literary interest. Here's one recent post.

On her blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb, Deborah interviewed author Anita Abriel about her new historical novel, The Light After the War.

Ever thought about creating a space for writers where you live? Read Gila Green's interview with Nadia Jacobson to find out how one writer created community.

Here's an interview with debut author Jennifer Voigt Kaplan about her book, Crushing the Red Flowers, at The Whole Megillah.

At Jewish Books for Kids, interview with author Joy Nelkin Wieder about her adorable new picture book, The Passover Mouse.

In time for the holiday, Yaakov Wasserman explores 'what does Passover mean to us?' while reviewing As If We Were There: Readings for a Transformative Passover Experience.

The Sydney Taylor Shmooze, a new mock award blog, shares the experience of seeing the Sydney Taylor Book Awards presented live at the American Library Association midwinter meeting.

And here at The Book of Life, I interviewed author Jeff Gottesfeld about his book No Steps Behind: Beate Sirota Gordon's Battle for Women's Rights in Japan (and yes, it is a Jewish book).

Monday, February 24, 2020

No Steps Behind

"No Steps Behind [by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Shiella Witanto] is the unlikely story of Beate Sirota Gordon, just a girl when her Russian-Austrian-Jewish family found refuge in 1930s Japan. Beate became fluent in Japanese, loved the nation’s culture and people, but hated its treatment of women and proverbs like “Women walk three steps behind.” After World War II, putting her language and cultural skills to use, she returned to Japan and fought for equal rights for women to be enshrined in the post-war Japanese post-war constitution. Though she won that battle, and remains a Japanese national hero, she is little known outside that country." -- Creston Books
I spoke with author Jeff Gottesfeld about Beate Sirota Gordon, and about the adventure of writing this picture book biography in order to bring her story to an English-speaking audience.



Jeff Gottesfeld and Nicole Gordon (Beate's daugter)
hold a picture of Beate Sirota Gordon


Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473. 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award BLOG TOUR

[Edited, post Blog Tour, to include the links to the interviews.]

I am very pleased that the Blog Tour tradition continues at the Association of Jewish Libraries! The 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour includes interviews with the winning authors and illustrators, appearing on a variety of high profile kidlit blogs and podcasts. 

The benefit of a Blog Tour is that the various interviewers bring differing perspectives to their conversations, and different audiences of readers learn about the Sydney Taylor Book Awards. The Blog Tour adds spice and extends the reach of the awards beyond what AJL could do alone.


Sue Macy and Stacy Innerst, author and illustrator of The Book Rescuer
Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Picture Book Category
at 100 Scope Notes at School Library Journal
R.J. Palacio, author of White Bird
Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Middle Grade Category
at The Paper Brigade Daily at The Jewish Book Council
Rachel DeWoskin, author of Someday We Will Fly
Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Young Adult Category at Out of the Box at The Horn Book
Debbie Levy and Sonja Wimmer, author and illustrator of The Key from Spain
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Picture Book Category at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
LeslĂ©a Newman and Amy June Bates, author and illustrator of Gittel's Journey
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Picture Book Categoryat Mr. Schu Reads
All Authors and Illustrators on The Children's Book Podcast
Hannah Moskowitz, author of Sick Kids in Love
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Young Adult Categoryat Good Reads with Ronna
Andrew Maraniss, author of Games of Deception
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Middle Grade Categoryat A Fuse #8 Production at School Library Journal
Sofiya Pasternack, author of Anya and the Dragon
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Middle Grade Categoryat From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors
Victoria Ortiz, author of Dissenter on the Bench
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Young Adult Categoryat Jewish Books for Kids
Blog Tour Wrap-Up at The Whole Megillah