Thursday, December 05, 2013

Canadian Interlude: Sharon McKay


The Book of Life's Canadian Correspondent, Anne Dublin, interviews author Sharon McKay, winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award in the Children and Youth Literature category for Enemy Territory. The Canadian magazine Resource Links says "McKay weaves a story of depth and understanding, a beautiful portrait of reluctant friendship, of overcoming profound prejudices, misconceptions, and deep-seeded anger, even hate."

AUDIO:

Click on the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Click on MP3 File to open your computer's media player.

VIDEO:

 

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 

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Queen of the Jews


I was pleased to meet Judy Petsonk, author of Queen of the Jews, when she spoke this evening at Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton. I was even more pleased to have the opportunity to interview her for The Book of Life. She was very well spoken, and I know the interview will make a great podcast. Watch this space!

Here's a description from the book's Facebook page:
The Queen of the Jews was a real woman. Powerful, charismatic, devout yet passionate, Queen Salome Alexandra ruled Judea in the century before Jesus. Embroiled in tempestuous love-hate relationships with her alcoholic husband, King Alexander Janneus, and her sons, she still managed to hold the land of Judea together through a succession of external battles and a six-year civil war. As sponsor of the Pharisee movement, she helped give birth to a new kind of Judaism. This new Judaism survived the destruction of the Holy Temple and gave birth in turn to modern Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the nine years when the queen ruled alone, she brought calm and prosperity to the land of Judea. Her people called her Shalom-Zion—the Queen of the Peace of Zion.

In Judy Petsonk’s novel, Queen of the Jews, Shalom-Zion tells her own story.

Judy Petsonk is the author of Taking Judaism Personally: Creating a Meaningful Spiritual Life, and the co-author, with Jim Remsen, of The Intermarriage Handbook: A Guide for Jews and Christians. She is married, and the mother of two young adults. In previous lives, she was a newspaper reporter and a teacher.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Laurel Snyder Redux

Laurel Snyder


I first made friends with author Laurel Snyder in 2008, when I interviewed her for the Book of Life episode "2 Jews, 3 Opinions." She crops up on this blog every now and then (do a search for her name), usually because we are having some kind of friendly argument. When she stopped by Florida in 2012 I recorded a wide-ranging conversation with her. She is certainly an outside-the-box thinker in the world of Jewish kidlit.

AUDIO:

Click on the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Click on MP3 File to open your computer's media player.

VIDEO:



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 

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




Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Rav Hisda's Daughter

Maggie Anton
An interview with Maggie Anton, author of Rav Hisda's Daughter, Book I: Apprentice: A Novel of Love, the Talmud, and Sorcery. Maggie has a lot of interesting background information to share, including some actual spells!

AUDIO: 

Click on the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player.

VIDEO:

 

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 

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




Openings on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee



2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee with winning authors and illustrators

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is like the Newbery Medal of Jewish children's literature. As past Chair of the award committee, I am excited to announce that there will soon be three openings for Jewish kidlit lovers. To learn how to apply for a position on this prestigious committee, please read this announcement from current Chair Aimee Lurie: 

Dear Friends: 

Three positions on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee will be available beginning January 1, 2014.

Applicants should be 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 presentation. The term of membership on the Committee is four years.  Each committee member typically receives more than $1,500 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.  Familiarity with Google Docs is helpful but not required. 

To apply, send a letter indicating the reasons for your interest, a resume, and several examples of your recent reviews of Jewish children’s books to Aimee Lurie, Committee Chair, at chair@sydneytaylorbookaward.org or aimeelurie@mac.com

Applications will be accepted through November 30, 2013.  

Aimee Lurie, Chair
Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
The Association of Jewish Libraries
The Agnon School
26500 Shaker Blvd.
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216)832-1314

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Jewish Book Carnival: September 2013 Edition

Blogger Erika Dreifus
The Book of Life's interview with Deborah Heiligman (Intentions) is  included in the September 2013 edition of The Jewish Book Carnival, hosted by Erika Dreifus at My Machberet, along with many other links to exciting interviews and book reviews! Thanks, Erika.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Intentions

Deborah Heiligman (center) at the 2013 AJL Conference in Houston, TX,
with her son Benjamin and her friend, AJL member Elinor Grumet.


Deborah Heiligman's first teen novel INTENTIONS won the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award. It is a powerful portrayal of faith betrayed, and how one heals from such betrayal. In this podcast, Deborah speaks about her inspiration for the story, and the doubts she experienced as she brought it to life.

AUDIO:

Click on the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player. 

VIDEO:


Intentions by Deborah Heiligman from Deborah Heiligman on Vimeo.

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 

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

Friday, August 02, 2013

Whitman's Jewish Picture Books


The publisher Albert Whitman & Company comes out with a Jewish picture book or two almost every year. Here's a show-floor interview from ALA 2012 with Marketing Director Michelle Bayuk about two of their recent Jewish-interest picture books:




AUDIO: 

Click the play button to listen to the podcast now:
Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player.  


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 

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


Sunday, July 07, 2013

Zayde Comes to Live



I discovered Sheri Sinykin's touching picture book Zayde Comes to Live at ALA in 2012, and was pleased when it won a 2013 Sydney Taylor Honor Award. It's a beautifully written story of a young girl coming to terms with her grandfather's impending death. Be sure to have tissues handy when you read it!

I interviewed Sheri by Skype and was later lucky to be able to meet her at the 2013 Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Houston, Texas. In the picture above, taken at AJL, she holds her award certificate and a picture created in her honor by her grandchildren!

The book is illustrated by Kristina Swarner, who has received Sydney Taylor Book Awards in the past for The Bedtime Sh'ma (2008), Gathering Sparks (2011).

AUDIO:

Click the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player. 


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 

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




Tuesday, June 11, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Super Pop! Pop Culture Top Ten Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays


Everybody loves Top Ten lists, so I was pleased to be invited to host a blog tour stop for Super Pop!  Author Dan Harmon claims that Top Ten lists are not just fun, they can be used for self improvement. He has organized his lists into helpful categories such as "Be More Interesting" and "Find Happiness."  The countdown lists within those categories have unusual themes such as "Find Your Calling: All-Consuming Hobbies for Your Consideration" and "Sleep with the Fishes: The Ten Best Places to Find Your Spirit Animal." The lists are populated by books, movies, TV shows, comics, podcasts, video games and songs - anything "that people can reasonably expect to consume for fun."

Harmon annotates each entry with a paragraph or so that is sometimes snarky, sometimes witty, and always entertaining. I don't always agree with his choices; for instance, "Drink the Kool-Aid: Touchstones for Quirky, Like-Minded People" includes Star Trek and Doctor Who, but leaves out Firefly. However, the pleasure of Top Ten lists is not just in recognizing one's own favorites, but in discovering new things to explore. For instance, "Adopt a More Outlandish Childhood: Because Some Kids Have All the (Bad) Luck"    has gotten me interested in the book A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes: " This book is everyone's childhood, plus real, live, PIRATES."

I looked carefully through Super Pop! and could find no Jewish content at all. The "Survive the Holidays" category includes only lists for secular American holidays plus Valentine's Day and Christmas. "Not that there's anything wrong with that," to quote Seinfeld. However, to add some Jewish flair to my post, I asked my Facebook friends and fans to suggest their own favorite Jewish moments or personalities from pop culture. They came up with wonderful answers, especially Sheyna Galyan and Sheryl Stahl, who were really on a roll! Here is our collective list of Top Twenty-Five Jewish Pop Culture References. Enjoy!

1. The rabbi baseball cards seen in Keeping the Faith with Ben Stiller - Diane Zweiman Weidenbaum
2. Bontche Schweig - Dru Simon
3. Matisyahu - Scott Scheinhaus
4. Superman - Barbara Krasner
5. Jerry Seinfeld - Wendy A. Marx
6. Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song - Terry Borzumato-Greenberg:
7. Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks' 2000 Year Old Man - Terry Borzumato-Greenberg
8. Yiddish words being used in the mainstream, such as knaidle winning the spelling bee - Leela Fireside
9. Rabbi Harvey - Wendy Weitzner Wasman
10: You Won't Succeed On Broadway (If You Don't Have Any Jews) from Spamalot - Sharie Remeny Gladner
11. Woody Allen - Sheyna Galyan
12. Fiddler on the Roof - Sheyna Galyan
13. Moses parting the Red Sea in DeMille's The Ten Commandments - Sheyna Galyan
14. Sandy Koufax refusing to pitch in the 1965 World Series because it was on Yom Kippur - Sheyna Galyan
15. Mr. Spock's Vulcan salute - Sheyna Galyan
16. Michael Feldman, comedian/host of public radio's Whad'ya Know? - Matthew Ransom
17. The Frisco Kid - Sheryl Stahl
18. The Producers - Sheryl Stahl
19. To Be or Not to Be, the Jack Benny version and the Mel Brooks version - Sheryl Stahl
20. The Hebrew Hammer - Sheryl Stahl
21. Ushpizin - Sheryl Stahl
22. The Band's Visit - Sheryl Stahl
23. Funny Girl - Sheryl Stahl
24. When Do We Eat? - Sheryl Stahl
25. The song Hava Nagila - Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin

For the other stops on the Super Pop! blog tour, click here.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Super Pop! Blog Tour



On Tuesday, June 11, 2013 The Book of Life will be a blog tour stop for Super Pop! Pop Culture Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays by Daniel Harmon (published by Zest Books, June 2013, $16.99; ISBN 9781936976362). It was short notice but I couldn't resist the chance to participate because the book looks like so much fun. Here's the description sent to me by Zest Books:


As David Letterman demonstrates on the Late Show, top ten lists are really funny. And we know lists are a great way to get organized, get things done, and streamline life’s many tasks. But now, pop culture expert Daniel Harmon takes a totally new approach to list making in his new book Super Pop! and organizes 500 movies, songs, video games, and books into top ten lists that not only have the power to entertain, but also to help create a new and better you!

To put a Jewish spin on the theme of Top Ten lists, I'd like to invite you to help me brainstorm Jewish pop culture icons, whether those are people, fictional characters, movie scenes, music... the sky's the limit. You can leave a comment below, or on The Book of Life Facebook page. On Tuesday we'll see what fun ideas we've come up with!

For more info about the book and a list of all the stops on the blog tour, click here!


Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Schmutzy Family



At the ALA conference in 2012, I interviewed the folks at Holiday House about the hilarious Shabbat picture book, The Schmutzy Family by Madelyn Rosenberg. This family embraces the messiness of life, but also knows the peace of orderliness.


AUDIO:

Click the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player.


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 

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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Jewish Book Carnival: May 2013

Welcome to the May 2013 Jewish Book Carnival!

The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly online event in which bloggers who blog about Jewish books share highlights from their own blogs. You'll find links to Jewish sites across the blogosphere, featuring interviews, book reviews, ruminations and more. 

The Jewish Book Carnival usually posts on the 15th of the month; this month in observance of Shavuot we have delayed posting until the 16th.

And now, on to the links!

The Jewish Book Council sent in a link from their blog, The Prosen People, featuring an interview with Naomi Alderman, author of The Liars' Gospel.

The Association of Jewish Libraries blog, People of the Books, shared this interview with Austin Ratner, author of Land of the Living.

Kathe Pinchuck at Life is Like a Library shares her excitement about Leadership in the Wilderness: Authority & Anarchy in the Book of Numbers  by Dr. Erica Brown.

On My Machberet, Erika Dreifus recommends some reading she was recently assigned -- A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and The Founding of Israel, by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh.


Kathy Bloomfield at Forwordsbooks.com writes about Derekh Eretz/The Way of the Land and shares books that teach about having good manners.

Jonathan Kirsch, editor of The Jewish Journal, is excited to share a glowing review of his own new book, The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan.


Lorri  at Lorri M. Writings offers reviews of two books:
Bearing the Body by Ehud Havazelet
I Kiss Your Hands Many Times by Marianne Szegedy-Maszák 

Claire Datnow at Media Mint offers these musings on the 1963 unfinished Polish Holocaust movie The Passenger. You can read more from Claire on her GoodReads blog.

Finally, I'd like to direct you to an earlier post on this very blog, The Book of Life, featuring an audio interview with author Eugene Yelchin about his book Breaking Stalin's Nose.

Thanks to all the bloggers who submitted links for the May Jewish Book Carnival!

The June 2013 edition of the Carnival will be hosted by Kathy Bloomfield at Forwards Books! If you are a blogger and would like to participate, please send your links to Kathy by June 12 at kathyb [at] forwardsbooks [dot] com.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

Eugene Yelchin: Breaking Stalin's Nose


At the 2012 Association of Jewish Libraries conference, I sat with author Eugene Yelchin during lunch and snuck in a quick interview. He's the author of the 2012 Newbery Honor book Breaking Stalin's Nose, based on his own youth in Stalinist Moscow (see http://www.breakingstalinsnose.com). He gave a very moving talk about freedom of information earlier during the conference. Yelchin is also the illustrator of Ann Stampler's picture book, The Rooster Prince of Breslov, named a 2011 Notable Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries and winner of the Jewish Book Council's National Jewish Book Award.

Read about Yelchin's books at http://www.eugeneyelchinbooks.com and about his art at http://www.eugeneyelchin.com.

AUDIO:

Click the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player.


VIDEO:




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 

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

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Sophie Brody Award


Emily Bergman, member of the Sophie Brody Award committee, discusses the ins and outs of choosing the best Jewish book of the year. The award is presented for Jewish literature by RUSA, an arm of ALA. See http://www.ala.org/rusa/awards/brody for more info.

AUDIO:

Click the play button to listen to the podcast now:


Or click: MP3 File to open your computer's media player. 

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

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




Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Hava Nagila: The Movie

Filmmaker Roberta Grossman offered a work-in-progress screening of her documentary on Hava Nagila at the Association of Jewish Libraries 2012 conference in California. Here we have her introductory remarks and the Q&A that followed the screening.The film is now opening in theaters across the country!

AUDIO:

Click the play button to listen to the podcast now:
Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player.


VIDEO:



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

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



 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Canadian Guest Interview: Kathy Kacer with Anne Dublin



The Book of Life's Canadian correspondent, Anne Dublin, interviews author Kathy Kacer about the compilation of children's responses to the Holocaust entitled We Are Their Voice.

AUDIO:

Click the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to open your computer's media player.

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

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


 

Friday, February 15, 2013

2013 STBA Blog Tour: Day 5

On this final day of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour, awards committee member Barbara Krasner hosts a roundtable wrap-up at her blog, The Whole Megillah. Read responses from various winners, as if they were participating in a panel presentation at a conference!

Thanks to all the winners for their participation in the blog tour, to all the bloggers for hosting, and to you, the readers, for your enthusiasm and attention!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013 STBA Blog Tour: Day 4



Read an interview with Linda Leopold Strauss, author of The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale (Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category) at Pen and Prose! A highlight: "As I was writing the story, I kept hearing the cadence of my grandparents’ Yiddish-speaking voices in my head. The repetition of phrases, the rhythms, the word combinations. And I think their voices also very much informed the way I wrote the story."

Read an interview with Alexi Natchev, illustrator of The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale (Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category) at Madelyn Rosenberg's Virtual Living Room! A highlight: "In my artistic education, illustration was really not just for children. In my formative years, art was part of the idealogical system. We were living at that time on the other side of the Iron Curtain so everything was very ideological and politicized. But in the illustration field you could be a little more creative, not so rigidly following certain requirements of clichés and artistic concepts with which you didn’t necessarily always agree."



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 STBA Blog Tour: Day 3



Read an interview with Sheri Sinykin, author of Zayde Comes to Live (Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category) at Read, Write, Repeat! A highlight: "My dearest wish is that Zayde will bring reassurance, peace, and completeness — shalom! — to children just discovering the circle of life they’ve heard sung about in the popular animated movie."

Read an interview with Kristina Swarner, illustrator of Zayde Comes to Live (Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category) at Writing and Illustrating! A highlight: "I really didn’t want to make the art too sad or pensive. The ideas evolved as I sketched, and the more I sketched, the more the tenderness and joyfulness of the story came out in the art."

***
PODCAST!

Audio interview with Sheri Sinykin and text interview with Kristina Swarner
coming soon on The Book of Life!



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2013 STBA Blog Tour: Day 2

Read an interview with Linda Glaser, author of Hannah's Way (Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers Category) at This Messy Life! A highlight: "This is a story about staying true to one’s traditions but still wanting to “belong.” It’s also a story about ordinary children who, through a simple act of kindness, become heroes. I hope that with the help of the Sydney Taylor Award, Hannah’s Way will reach many more kids and will do its small part to encourage tolerance, acceptance, and kindness."

Read an interview with Adam Gustavson, illustrator of Hannah's Way (Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers Category) at Here in HP! A highlight: "I’ve always drawn; my mother was an artist when I was growing up, and my brothers and I drew like most other kids would play ball. It was a big part of how we played together. My father, an engineer, used to come home with art supplies he’d picked up for us on his way home from work. I grew up in the only household for miles and miles where a crisis consisted of my mother trying to find out just who took her kneaded eraser."

Read an interview with Louise Borden, author of His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg (Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Older Readers Category) at Randomly Reading! A highlight: "Young readers have much longer lives ahead of them.  I want them to be inspired by this man and by his character and actions.  I want kids to know that they too can make a positive difference in the world.  I want them to find their own heroes.  And I want readers to remember Raoul Wallenberg and to carry his story into their own futures.  We are all storytellers - kids will remember a great story and I hope they will tell others and use its power for good in their own lives."

Read an interview with Deborah Heiligman, author of Intentions (Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Teen Readers Category) at The Fourth Musketeer! A highlight: "I wanted to capture that moment in a teen's life when she realizes that someone she adores and even idolizes is flawed. That happened to me in a pretty spectacular way in my community growing up (though not quite as spectacularly as in the book!) and it was a truly painful time. That moment informs who you become I think--because how you deal with it can shape the rest of your life."