Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Missing Voices of Moe and Mo

A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated by Mehrdohkt Amini
Jane Breskin Zalben is an artist/illustrator and the author of over 50 books for children. Her recent picture book, A Moon for Moe and Mo, was featured in the Missing Voice picture book discussion group on Facebook in September 2018. The Missing Voice group was created by another author, Lisa Rose, to bring books about under-represented populations into the limelight. You may be familiar with Lisa's book, Shmulik Paints the Town. I spoke with Jane and Lisa by conference call, in the week following the anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, because I felt it was the right time to talk about stories that model friendships between Jews and non-Jews, and to encourage people to read more books that offer windows into different cultures. 

During that same week, I worked with a bunch of my favorite women, my posse of snarky Jewish kidlit nerds from across the world, to create a book list addressing anti-Semitism. We crafted a list of picture books and chapter books on the theme of "standing up for each other." It's the first in the Love Your Neighbor series of book lists published by the Association of Jewish Libraries. There's a great article at Tablet Magazine about the creation of the book list series. Please use and share the Love Your Neighbor book lists as widely as you can! 


 
From "LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR: LIST #1 STANDING UP FOR EACH OTHER "

PICTURE BOOKS
The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper, art by Gabi Swiatkowska, Abrams, ages 4-8
This book is a gentle reminder of a timeless rule for parent and child: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. A boy and his grandfather discuss the rule’s universality and how to put it into practice.
Hannah’s Way by Linda Glaser, art by Adam Gustavson, Kar-Ben, ages 4-8
After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah's family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot ride on the Sabbath. What will she do? A lovely story of friendship and community.
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser, art by Claire A. Nivola, Houghton Mifflin, ages 4-8
In 1883, Jewish Emma Lazarus, deeply moved by an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe, wrote a sonnet that gave a voice to the Statue of Liberty. The statue, thanks to Emma's poem, came to define us as a nation that welcomes immigrants. A true story.
Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain by Jacqueline Jules, art by Durga Yael Bernhard, Wisdom Tales Press, ages 4-8
Inspired by a powerful legend of conflict resolution, Never Say a Mean Word Again is the compelling story of a boy who is given permission to punish an enemy. A surprising twist shows how an enemy can become a friend.
Here is the story of two icons for social justice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Abraham Joshua Heschel, how they formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all.
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren, art by Fabio Santomauro, Kar-Ben, ages 7-11
The dramatic story of neighbors in a small Danish fishing village who, during the Holocaust, shelter a Jewish family waiting to be ferried to safety in Sweden. Worried about their safety, friends devise a clever and unusual plan for their safe passage to the harbor. Based on a true story.
CHAPTER BOOKS
Vive La Paris by Esme Raji Codell, Hyperion, ages 9-12
Paris has come for piano lessons, not chopped-liver sandwiches or French lessons or free advice.  But when old Mrs. Rosen, who is Jewish, gives her a little bit more than she can handle, it might be just what Paris needs to understand the bully in her brother’s life…and the bullies of the world.
Refugee by Alan Gratz, Scholastic, ages 9-13
A Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany, a Cuban girl in 1994, a Syrian boy in 2015 - all three go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.
The Inquisitor’s Tale, Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, art by Hatem Aly, Dutton, ages 9-15
France, 1242. Three children: a Christian peasant girl, a Moorish boy raised as a monk, and a Jewish boy. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, Candlewick, ages 10-14
Fourteen-year-old Joan’s 1911 journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a Jewish society household in Baltimore takes readers on an exploration of feminism and housework; religion and literature; love and loyalty; cats, hats, and bunions.
Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust by Leanne Lieberman, Orca, ages 13-18
Jewish teen Lauren is sick of Holocaust memorials. But when she sees some of her friends--including Jesse, a cute boy she likes--playing Nazi war games, she is faced with a terrible choice: betray her friends or betray her heritage.

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle, Henry Holt, ages 12 to adult
Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away the ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. The young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away.
CREDITS:

Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel  
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band 
 
Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast    
Twitter: @bookoflifepod  
Patreon: patreon.com/bookoflife

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



Thursday, November 01, 2018

Love Your Neighbor: An AJL Book List Series


In response to the anti-Semitic domestic terrorism that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA last Saturday, my friends and I have done what librarians do: we've turned to literature, not for explanations, but for solutions. After 100+ email messages back and forth, we've hammered out a cream-of-the-crop list of "window" books for youth, that we hope will build empathy and understanding in the hearts of non-Jewish readers.

There's no knowing whether books like these would have made a difference if read during the childhood of the Pittsburgh shooter, and we can't guarantee that reading them to today's kids will prevent future tragedy. But as the Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, tell us, we are not obligated to complete the work of combating anti-Semitism, but neither are we free to desist from it. We've got to do what we can. As librarians, we know that the right book can make a difference, especially when read during the formative years of childhood. 

My kidlit posse: myself, Barbara Bietz, Kathy Bloomfield, Elissa Gershowitz, Marjorie Ingall, Rachel Kamin, Susan Kusel, Chava Pinchuck, and Lisa Silverman, have spent the last few days and nights bouncing titles off each other, fine tuning our message, and proof reading like crazy. And now, we are very proud to present the first in a series (because we had too much material for a single book list), "Love Your Neighbor: Standing Up For Each Other." Future entries in the series will cover Jewish diversity, synagogues and clergy, and cross-cultural friendship. We are open to suggestion for other themes that might be useful, keeping in mind that the target audience is NON-Jewish kids and teens. 

The series will be hosted on the Association of Jewish Libraries blog. Here's the first book list: Standing Up For Each Other. Please share it as widely as you can!



Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Girl with the Red Balloon


The Girl with the Red Balloon is a magical time travel, historical fiction, kind-of-sort-of Holocaust book that won a Sydney Taylor Honor in the Teen Readers Category for 2018. I met the author, Katherine Locke, at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Boston, where we snuck into a side room to talk – please excuse the faint hubbub coming from outside. We discussed not only Katherine’s book, but also her article on Medium.com, “Thinking about Jewish Children’s Literature in a Time of anti-Semitism.”

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST




CREDITS:

Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band 

Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  
Twitter: @bookoflifepod 
Patreon: patreon.com/bookoflife

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





Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Sundown Kid


Before I moved back to Florida from Massachusetts, my friend Barbara Bietz, author of The Sundown Kid: A Southwestern Shabbat, came to Amherst, MA for a workshop about Jewish kidlit. We got together while she was in town and recorded our conversation for you.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST


CREDITS:
 
Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band 
Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  
Twitter: @bookoflifepod 
Patreon: patreon.com/bookoflife

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



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

American Golem


American Golem: The New Adventures of an Old World Mud Monster by Marc Lumer is a new picture book from Apples & Honey Press. I ran into Vicki Weber of Behrman House (the parent company of Apples & Honey) at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Boston, MA this June, and grabbed a quick interview about American Golem. You'll notice the loud buzz of conference-goers in the background because we spoke in the dining room after lunch. Hopefully, that will give you a "you are there" feeling!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST


CREDITS:

Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries  
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band

Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast
Twitter: @bookoflifepod
Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Book of Life Returns! with "Social Justice and Jewish Children's Books"

L-R: Lesléa Newman, Shoshana Flax, Heidi Rabinowitz, Elissa Gershowitz
at the Association of Jewish Libraries, Boston, MA, June 2018
 
The podcast hiatus is over! I'm thrilled to return to my beloved Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida, and to The Book of Life podcast!


On Monday June 18, 2018 at the 53rd annual conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries in Boston, MA, I participated in a panel discussion of "Social Justice and Jewish Children's Books." Other panelists included author Lesléa Newman, and Horn Book editors Shoshana Flax and moderator Elissa Gershowitz.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST


 
As mentioned on the podcast, this post offers some titles in the various categories of books that I spoke about during the panel. These lists are by no means comprehensive. They mostly represent titles in the Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida, and the list was compiled by memory without actually visiting the library. My purpose is to offer a few suggestions to get you started on thinking about books in these categories.

BOOKS FOCUSING ON DIVERSITY ITSELF

We Are All Alike...We Are All Different by The Cheltenham Elementary School Kindergartners
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
Skin Again by Bell Hooks
Two Eyes, a Nose, and a Mouth by Roberta Grobel Intrater
We're Different, We're the Same by Bobbi Kates
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
All the Colors We Are/Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel by Katie Kissinger
The Belly Book, and Happy In Our Skin by Fran Manushkin
We All Sing with the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller
It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
A Rainbow All Around Me by Sandra Pinkney
One Light, One Sun by Raffi
Shades of People by Shelley Rotner
One Family by George Shannon
All Kinds of Children by Norma Simon
Brown Sugar Babies; I Am America by Charles R. Smith
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler

"CASUALLY DIVERSE" BOOKS

A Kiss Means I Love You by Kathryn Madeline Allen
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett
Busy Toes by CW Bowie
My Aunt Came Back by Pat Cummings
Love; Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell
Shape Space by Cathryn Falwell
10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox
Everywhere Babies by Marla Frazee
Uh Oh!; Peekaboo Morning By Rachel Isadora
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Daddy, Papa and Me; Mommy, Mama and Me by Leslea Newman
Octopus Hug by Laurence Pringle
Jonathan and His Mommy;Kevin and His Dad by Irene Smalls
Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs books (interestingly, the Chanukah one is all white humans)

EXPLICITLY DIVERSE BOOKS (Celebrating specific cultures)

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
Cleversticks by Bernard Ashley
So Much by Trish Cooke
Peek! A Thai Hide and Seek by Minfong Ho
How Sweet the Sound: African American Songs for Chlidren by Cheryl & Wade Hudson
Shades of Black: A Celebraton of Our Children by Sandra Pinkney
Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong
Yoko by Rosemary Wells

JEWISH DIVERSE BOOKS

Please see the bibliography I posted in June 2017 on this topic.

Diverse Jewish Kidlit

SECULAR BOOKS WITH JEWISH VALUES

Please see the notes and bibliography from my 2002 AJL presentation "Is the Rainbow Fish Jewish?" While in need of updating, this booklist is still valid.

Is the Rainbow Fish Jewish?

JEWISH STORIES ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice Cohn
Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
Hannah's Way; On One Foot by Linda Glaser
The Legend of Freedom Hill by Linda Altman Jacobs
Even Higher by Eric Kimmel
In God’s Hands by Laurence Kushner
Mayer Aaron Levi and His Lemon Tree by Tami Lehman-Wilzig
Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand by Arthur Levine
The Mitten String by Jennifer Rosner
Gathering Sparks by Howard Schwartz
The Two Brothers: a Legend of Jerusalem by Neil Waldman
Let there Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World by Jane Breskin Zalben

JEWISH PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHIES ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE

Emma’s Poem, The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser
The Spy Who Played Baseball by Carrie Jones
Goldie Takes a Stand by Barbara Krasner
I Dissent by Debbie Levy
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Factory Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel
As Good As Anybody by Rich Michelson
A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Liberty’s Voice by Erica Silverman
Ruth Bader Ginsburgh, TBG vs Inequality by Jonah Winter

GRATITUDE BOOKS FOR THANKSGIVING COLLECTION 
(to replace false narratives about Pilgrims and Indians)

Grateful by John Bucchino
Bear Says Thank You by Michael Dahl
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder and Gratitude by Karin Fisher-Golton
Day by Day by Susan Gal
Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
Life Is Good by Bert Jacobs
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson
Every Little Thing by Bob Marley
Hug Time; Thank You and Good Night; Wag by Patrick McDonnell
Thank You, World by Alice B. McGinty
Sharing the Bread: An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller
The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Wait by Antoinette Portis
Thankfulness by Cynthia Roberts
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss
My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith
The Kindness Quilt by Elizabeth Nancy Wallace
Thank You, God by J. Bradley Wigger
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood

RESOURCES ON TEACHING ABOUT NATIVE AMERICANS RESPECTFULLY

Guidelines from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation

CREDITS:
 
Sponsor: Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band 
Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  
Twitter: @bookoflifepod 
Patreon: patreon.com/bookoflife

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



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Podcamp

On April 7, 2018, I attended PodCamp Western Mass, an unconference about social media and online marketing held at Holyoke Community College. You can see me right there in the front center (behind the reclining gals). As an unconference, it was really a series of intense conversations rather than presentations. Sometimes it was even like therapy. There was a session about personal branding, where I decided that my own tagline might be "proudly geeking out." Honestly, there was very little that was directly related to podcasting, but I did get some good technical tips about audio equipment from a guy who happened to be sitting at my lunch table. And I met a lot of nice people.

I am pleased to announce that The Book of Life's hiatus will soon be over! I expect to revive The Book of Life by fall 2018.