Monday, April 24, 2017

Kasper Mützenmacher's Cursed Hat

Kasper Mützenmacher's Cursed Hat by Keith Fentonmiller is a weird and wonderful novel that starts during WWII and takes many a strange detour from there. It's kind of hard to explain, but just trust me and read it, and hold on for a wild ride.

Did you enjoy our last episode about Serendipity's Footsteps? Don't forget to become a patron of The Book of Life on Patreon to get a free autographed copy of your own!


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST





PHOTO GALLERY

The character of Kasper was inspired by Keith's grandfather Dr. Meryl Fenton, whom he called Papa. Here's a picture of Papa, with Keith's father as a little boy.



And this is Keith Fentonmiller himself.



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. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#ProjectReadathon


From April 17-23, 2017, browse and read free excerpts from great books on the Penguin Random House website to trigger book donations to Save the Children. It costs you nothing but a few minutes of your time, which will be spent enjoying kids' and adult titles from a variety of genres.

There are a few recognizably Jewish books in the mix: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, Delicious by Ruth Reichl, Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar, Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit, and the classic Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. And of course, there are plenty of excellent non-Jewish titles to choose from too. No matter what you read, you will be doing a mitzvah by participating!

Click here to learn more about the project.
OR
Click here to start reading!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Serendipity's Footsteps


Serendipity's Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson tells the interwoven stories of three girls across time and geography, and how they are connected serendipitously by a special pair of shoes. Suzanne Nelson won a Sydney Taylor Honor Award for the teen novel, and I interviewed her live at the 2016 Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Charleston, SC.
SPECIAL OFFER: Become a patron of The Book of Life on Patreon.com for as little as $1/month and receive a free autographed copy of Serendipity's Footsteps, while supplies last! Click here to take advantage of this offer!

For more fun, check out Suzanne's Pinterest boards for the characters Dalya, Pinny and Ray here!

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, April 09, 2017

Read Without Walls

Join the Read Without Walls challenge this April!




I found this exciting project over at The Booklist Reader:

Writer, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and MacArthur Genius Gene Luen Yang has thrown down an exciting challenge for April: diversify your reading list. As part of the national, month-long program Reading Without Walls, Yang has called upon readers of all ages to expand the kinds of literature they read. The rules are as follows:

If you're a regular at The Book of Life, you probably already read plenty of Jewish books, but even within that genre you can branch out. Read about Jews from another land or in another time, if you're a novel-lover try nonfiction, if you're a grownup read a children's book.

If you take up the challenge, please share the news on social media using the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls. I'd love to have you comment here at The Book of Life about your reading choices!



Monday, April 03, 2017

The (Unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah


The (Unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah is this year's #1 best-selling haggadah on Amazon. It was created with true fandom and great Jewish knowledge by Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg, who also authored Morality for Muggles: Ethics in the Bible and the World of Harry Potter (as well as a number of Star Trek related articles at Tablet Magazine). I spoke to Rabbi Rosenberg by Skype, which seemed to have a basilisk in its walls - please consider the creepy hiss behind his voice to be part of the mystery and magic.

During the interview, we talked about #Trypod, the campaign to get more people to try more podcasts. Rabbi Rosenber's #Trypod recommendation was Nice Jewish Fangirls, a podcast by his own daughter!  And check out my #Trypod recommendations here


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

Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Call Me Ishmael


Steph Kent, Call Me Ishmael Co-founder
At the American Library Association convention last summer, I met Steph Kent, co-founder of CallMeIshmael.com - a website where book lovers leave voicemails telling personal stories about their favorite books. I recorded an interview with Steph on the show floor, and then later got back in touch to create "How Is This Book Different?," a project sponsored jointly by Call Me Ishmael, the Association of Jewish Libraries, and the Jewish Book Council. YOU are invited to join in! Here's how:
  1. Call 774-325-0503 to leave a short voicemail
  2. Between March 27-April 4, 2017
  3. With a personal story about any Jewish book that matters in your life
  4. Then go to CallMeIshmael.com to hear everyone's stories!
HINT: Click here for tips on making your voicemail awesome.





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. 

Heidi calls Ishmael

Saturday, March 18, 2017

#Trypod

March 2017 is #trypod month - a time to try a new podcast, and to show your friends how to listen to podcasts if they don't yet know. The campaign was organized by NPR to encourage the one in five Americans who listen to podcasts to help their friends start a listening habit too. Use the hashtag #trypod as you share your story about why you listen and your suggestions of favorite shows.


I listen to podcasts to be informed, to get a mood boost, and for professional development. But the big reason I listen to podcasts is to feel connected. When I have someone's voice in my ear, it's an intimate feeling, like they are speaking directly to me. These podcasters share my interests and concerns, and they make me feel connected to them as individuals, and to the issues being discussed. #trypod

Here are a few of my favorites:

To be informed, I listen to CodeSwitch, a podcast about race, A Way With Words, a show about language and how we use it, and the TED Radio Hour, which is about ... everything.

For a mood boost, I listen to Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids, a Canadian live show where people read from old diaries and homework assignments, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, a fandom version of Torah study, and Verity, an international podcast hosted by six smart women seriously discussing Doctor Who.

For professional development as a Judaica librarian, I listen to Unorthodox from Tablet Magazine (see my recent interview with the hosts), Can We Talk? from the Jewish Women's Archive, and I've just started listening to All the Wonders, a show about children's books.

How to Listen to Podcasts (a brush-up for you, a primer for your friends):

You can listen to a podcast by going to its website and clicking the PLAY button for any episode (that's called "streaming"). You can also subscribe to podcasts so the newest episodes will be waiting for you on your device (computer, mobile phone, tablet, etc). To do this, you need an app such as iTunes or Stitcher. Most of the apps are free, and most podcasts are also free. To learn more about podcast basics click here; to learn about podcast listening apps ("podcatchers") check out this Best Of list.

I hope you'll help your friends learn how to enjoy podcasts, and please do recommend that they try The Book of Life!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mark Your Calendar


Listen for details, and mark your calendar!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST






March 20, 2017: #READ4REFUGEES

#Read4Refugees is a world-wide read-in benefitting the charity RefugePoint, running now through March 31, 2017. Donate by March 20 to help the campaign earn a bonus $10,000. Here's the scoop:GoJaneGive.org/Read4Refugees

March 27-April 4, 2017: HOW IS THIS BOOK DIFFERENT?

You are invited to participate in How Is This Book Different?, a joint project of the Association of Jewish Libraries, the Jewish Book Council, and Call Me Ishmael. Between March 27-April 4, 2017, call 774-325-0503 with a story about your a Jewish book that matters to your life!

April 24, 2017: TENT: CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

Apply by April 24 to participate in an August 13-20, 2017 Jewish kidlit writers' retreat in Amherst, MA co-sponsored by the Yiddish Book Center and PJ Library. Click here for details and application.


 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Honey and Me

Meira Drazin
Meira Drazin is the author of Honey and Me, a forthcoming middle grade novel from Scholastic. Even before she got that book deal, she won the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award for the unpublished work. She was at the 2016 Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Charleston, SC to receive her award. We sat down with a few members of the award committee for a quick chat.

INVITATION

As you hear in this podcast episode, you are invited to participate in How Is This Book Different?, a joint project of the Association of Jewish Libraries, the Jewish Book Council, and Call Me Ishmael. Between March 27-April 4, 2017, call 774-325-0503 with a story about your a Jewish book that matters to your life!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: Mp3




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. 


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Unorthodox, Live

L-R: Heidi, Mark, Stephanie, and Liel
Unorthodox is a chatty and irreverent Jewish podcast from Tablet Magazine, and I'm a big fan. I was excited to see their live show at Temple Israel in West Palm Beach, and was lucky to snag an interview after the show. Here are some links to topics we mentioned in our conversation:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: Mp3


 
 
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.

Friday, February 10, 2017

2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour Links


Here are all the final links to the posts created during the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. So many wonderful interviews for you to enjoy! 

2017 SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD BLOG TOUR

Gavriel Savit, author of Anna and the Swallow Man 
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers category 
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb 

Andrea Davis Pinkney (author), Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (illustrators) of A Poem for Peter 
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category 
At The Book of Life 

Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley, author and illustrator of I Dissent
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers category 
At Ima On and Off the Bima 

Joel Ben Izzy, author of Dreidels on the Brain 
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category 
At Bildungsroman

Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly, author and illustrator of The Inquisitor's Tale 
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers category 
At The Prosen People 

Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas, author and illustrator of A Hat for Mrs. Goldman 
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category 
At Jewish Books for Kids with Barbara Bietz 

Richard Michelson and Edel Rodriguez, author and illustrator of Fascinating 
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category 
At The Horn Book Blog 

Blog tour wrap-up at The Whole Megillah


Monday, February 06, 2017

A Poem for Peter: 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour

The Sydney Taylor Book Award 2017 Blog Tour features interviews with gold and silver medalists. Visit jewishlibraries.org for the full schedule of blog tour stops. Please note the last minute change: this interview appears now on Monday instead of Wednesday. The post about The Inquisitor's Tale will appear on Wednesday, February 8 on The Prosen People.


A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson, is both a biography of Ezra Jack Keats and a love poem to the famous 1962 picture book he created, The Snowy Day. It was named a 2017 Sydney Taylor Honor Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

ANDREA DAVIS PINKNEY
Andrea, please talk about what The Snowy Day means to you personally. Did it affect your path to becoming an author yourself?

I was born in the inner-city in 1963, the same year Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day won the Caldecott medal. My parents had very limited financial resources, but they purchased that book for their young daughter. I often joke that I slept with The Snowy Day, that I cuddled with it. That's how much comfort that book brought me. It was as special as any pillow. Looking back, I now see that the book's magic -- and its personal appeal to me -- was in its main character Peter, the first African-American child featured in a mainstream book. In Peter, I found my very own brown-skinned self reflected through Keats's vision. It was a beautiful example of bookmaking that had pushed past so many boundaries. As I grew, I continued to keep all of Keats's books close by. This definitely informed my desire to write and edit books of my own someday.

In A Poem for Peter, you address Peter directly but talk about Ezra Jack Keats in the third person. Can you explain why you made that choice?

When the invitation came to craft a biography about Ezra Jack Keats, I knew right away that I wanted to create a love letter, a lyric that pays tribute to Keats's groundbreaking character, Peter. In doing so, I wove the poetic form, which I call "a tribute poem" around the structure of Keats's incredible life-story. This third-person narrative is juxtaposed with the first-person lyric that speaks directly to Peter. The interplay of the two perspectives work as two voices would when performing a duet. They are meant to harmonize, to blend a sound that would not exist when delivered separately. When sung together, they create something wholly unique.

Now that you’ve learned so much about Ezra Jack Keats, has that changed your relationship with The Snowy Day in any way?

Absolutely! As a child who grew up on The Snowy Day, and now as an adult who has shared the book with many children over the years, I now see Keats's intention through a completely different lens. For example, before writing A Poem for Peter, I didn't know that Ezra was the son of struggling immigrants who fled Poland seeking refuge from anti-Semitism. And I wasn't aware that when Ezra sought work after he returned from serving in World War II, he was forced to change his name from Jacob Jack Ezra Katz to Ezra Jacks Keats, so that he could get a job in an era where signs hung in windows saying: "Jews Need Not Apply." These facts shed new light on my understanding of how Peter came to be. Ezra had experienced discrimination himself, so was very keen on creating a book that fostered inclusion.

Andrea Davis Pinkney plays in the snow.

Keats was white, and was criticized by some for appropriating a black character. This aligns with the current concept of #OwnVoices. Most of your own books have been #OwnVoices stories, but this one is only partly so. What are your thoughts on writing outside one’s own cultural experiences? 

In the case of Ezra Jack Keats, I believe he was writing from his own experience. Keats grew up in Brooklyn, where his neighbors were black children, and kids and families of all races. He celebrated what was true to his personal experience of the world he lived in.

The terms “collage poem” and “bio poem” have been used to describe this book. Can you explain those terms and how you chose this format to tell the story?

Like the use of Keats's multi-layered visual tapestry in The Snowy Day, A Poem for Peter is written in a multi-dimensional form. Peter appears throughout the narrative in a "peekaboo" fashion, waving at the reader, as the story of Ezra's life unfolds. While writing, I wanted to create a biography that has musicality and read-aloud value, while at the same time delivers important information about such an incredible man. I sought to craft a story that feels as fun as a snowy day, filled with wonder, adventure, and discovery.

“Tikkun olam” is the Hebrew term for “repairing the world.” How does A Poem for Peter contribute to that healing?

Books can be very powerful tools. When children see themselves and others like them in the books they read -- or when they witness the experiences of cultures very different from their own on the pages of their books -- worlds open. I believe this is how repairing and healing happen. The fact that Ezra Jack Keats was the son of immigrants coming to America is relevant today. And Peter's presence as a child of color in such a pivotal book, is especially powerful-- more than fifty years after The Snowy Day was published.

What does it mean to you to win the Sydney Taylor Honor Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries?

The Sydney Taylor Award is a very bright light on the children's literature landscape. The true "prize" for A Poem for Peter is the honor of rejoicing in the legacy of Ezra Jack Keats!

Visit AndreaDavisPinkney.com to learn more about the author. 

LOU FANCHER AND STEVE JOHNSON


Lou and Steve, how do you co-create your art? What is the division of labor when you create an illustration together?


The process of creating artwork for each book varies. The division of labor as a result, is not possible to parse into Lou’s duties, Steve’s duties. We always try to have the person who is most skilled in a certain area take the lead, but just as often, the “less skilled” person elbows his or her way in and comes up with a surprising, fresh approach. We try to avoid providing a bifurcated answer because really, who can say if the person holding the paint brush or the person asking provocative questions while the other person paints is actually “doing the painting?”


Please describe your usual style and technique. What was it like trying pay homage to the style of Ezra Jack Keats? Did you have to do things differently than you usually do?


This is actually many questions, but we’ll try to answer all of them! As with the first answer, we don’t apply “usual” to our style and technique. We do what’s right for the book, whether it’s painting in oil and acrylics, carving on butternut wood, collaging upholstery fabric and slapping paint on it, or dragging string, palette knives or cardboard boxes through paint on canvas to create art. It was amazing and an honor to make work for a book about Ezra Keats. We weren’t trying to pay homage to his art as much as do our own, which already featured collage in many of our prior books. We didn’t do anything differently, other than overcome our fears and intimidation at putting our artwork out in a book that would also include his fabulous, iconic images.

Spread from A Poem for Peter

Did the illustrations evolve in any way during the process of creating this book?

Yup. They went from being ugly (the early stages) to being done (and hopefully no longer ugly). They also benefited enormously from input from our fantastic art director and editors.

What kind of research did you need to do in order to illustrate this book? Please share something interesting or surprising that you learned.

Lots. Tons and tons. Reading, searching through image files at libraries and online, learning about Keats, the era in which he worked—and then digging through children’s literature to learn—and at times despair—about how few people of color are represented, written about and included in the genre’s history. Unfortunately, it didn’t surprise us. What interests us is more about changing this dynamic so that children of all race and ethnic backgrounds can more often “see themselves in books.”

What has The Snowy Day meant to you in your own lives?

How about a past, present, future type answer? It has meant growing up with the belief that people of all colors have strong family networks and parents who are loving. It means that we’ve been given a real gift in that we’ve been allowed to work on this project. It obligates us to continue to create art that is inclusive and represents the diversity of human beings and experience.

What does it mean to you to win the Sydney Taylor Honor Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries?

If it results in more kids seeing this book, if it brings more children to write and tell their stories or to make art, if it spreads the word on a broader scale that literature matters now and forevermore, well, winning this award means that we’re part of a very, very cool, celebratory happening.

Visit JohnsonandFancher.com to learn more about the illustrators.



www.jewishlibraries.org






Thursday, February 02, 2017

Another Me


The Book of Life's Canadian Correspondent Anne Dublin interviews author Eva Wiseman about her historical/paranormal romance for teens, Another Me. The book was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist in the Young Adult category for the Posner Award.


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: Mp3





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. 




Friday, January 27, 2017

Everybody Says Shalom #ReadYourWorld


Today, January 27, 2017, is Multicultural Children's Book Day, a celebration of diversity in kidlit. Check out multiculturalchildrensbookday.com to find diversity booklists for kids, a kindness kit for teachers, and giveaways of diverse books. And be sure to search for the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to find links to multicultural children's book reviews and reading suggestions.

In the spirit of the Day's hashtag, #ReadYourWorld, I'm posting a recording of Leslie Kimmelman's talk at the 2016 Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Charleston, SC. Leslie spoke about her picture book, Everybody Says Shalom, which was a 2016 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category. This charming book showcases friendly diversity in an Israeli setting. Enjoy, and shalom!


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: Mp3




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.


Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour


The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be showcasing its 2017 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour, February 6-10, 2017! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a variety of Jewish and kidlit blogs. Interviews will appear on the dates below, and will remain available to read at your own convenience.

Below is the schedule for the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave them plenty of comments!

2017 SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD BLOG TOUR

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2017

Gavriel Savit, author of Anna and the Swallow Man
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers category
At Book Q&A's with Deborah Kalb 

Andrea Davis Pinkney (author), Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (illustrators) of A Poem for Peter
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category
At The Book of Life 

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017

Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley, author and illustrator of I Dissent
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers category
At Ima On and Off the Bima
 
Joel Ben Izzy, author of Dreidels on the Brain
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers category
At Bildungsroman

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2017

Adam Gidwitz and Hatem Aly, author and illustrator of The Inquisitor's Tale
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers category
At The Prosen People

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2017

Michelle Edwards and G. Brian Karas, author and illustrator of A Hat for Mrs. Goldman
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category
At Jewish Books for Kids with Barbara Bietz

Richard Michelson and Edel Rodriguez, author and illustrator of Fascinating
Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category
At The Horn Book Blog

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017

Blog tour wrap-up at The Whole Megillah



Storytime for Social Jutice


Storytime Underground, a blog and Facebook group for children's librarians, challenged participants to use their storytimes to make the world a fairer place. As the organizers said, "Take a moment to think about what you can do to help teach empathy and inclusiveness in your programming." These goals are represented by the Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (justice). The hashtag #storytimejusticewarrior helps us find examples from storytime providers everywhere.



During the week following Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my storytime theme was skin, its functions and colors. I particularly enjoy using puppets to teach this concept. This pair of puppets from Sunny & Co. offer a great Venn diagram of intersecting comparisons and contrasts. Their hair is the same color but different styles. Their clothing both includes denim but for different items. I love it that the boy puppet is the one who has jewelry on, flipping expectations. Having these puppets lead a discussion about "same and different" puts skin in perspective as one of many things that makes us each unique yet unifies us too. After puppet time, we read Shades of People by Shelley Rotner, so we could see real skin tones of real people. We followed up with My Nose, Your Nose by Melanie Walsh and The Belly Book by Fran Manushkin, which both combine a celebration of diversity and universality.

I work with mostly white, affluent preschool children in a synagogue setting, and I struggle with how to introduce social justice concepts to them in a relatable way. I hope that by making them aware of skin's function, and by celebrating its many forms, I can lay the groundwork for them to become fair-minded and unbiased people as they grow up. It's an uphill battle, because the backdrop of this well-intended lesson is systemic racism, and I fear that my efforts may do little in that context. This article, "For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids" urges us to confront the issue of race more directly. I have not yet found the courage to do so with other people's 2-5 year olds. I'd love to hear from other storytime providers who have found a way to have a truly substantive conversation with children about race and racism.




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Inquisitor's Tale




The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz with illustrations by Hatem Aly is the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers category, and it was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist in the Children's Literature category. Both these awards were announced in January 2017; I interviewed Adam long before that, soon after meeting him at a kidlit author speed dating event at the American Library Association convention in Orlando in June 2016.


The Inquisitor's Tale has been receiving accolades from simply everyone. A particularly insightful review was the one by Betsy Bird at A Fuse #8 Production blog on the School Library Journal website.


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: Mp3




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.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Bonus Episode: The 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Awards!


Ellen Tilman is the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries. She joined us by phone from her home in Philadelphia to talk about the newest crop of winners that were announced just this week.

Here's the official announcement with the full list of winners, honors, and notable books: click here.

Here's my roundup of winning books that have appeared on The Book of Life: click here.

And here's Ellen:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: Mp3


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.