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Showing posts from 2022

Zay Getray Zikh Aleyn, or You Be You: The Kid's Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    BUY THE BOOK IN ENGLISH or YIDDISH     🕮    You Be You, The Kid's Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family by Jonathan Branfman may not seem like an obvious choice for coverage on The Book of Life, but I was fascinated by the fact that it had been translated into Yiddish to make it accessible not only to scholars of modern Yiddish but to Hasidic families. Branfman brings both Jewish and gender expertise as a scholar in both fields. Translator Lili Rosen is not only a translator but also a cultural consultant and actor on the Netflix hit Unorthodox and other Yiddish-related media. They combined their talents to create a book for 7-12 year old readers that is affirming and inspiring. See also The Book of Life's list of Queer Jewish Kidlit ! LEARN MORE:  Buy the book in English or Yiddish Jonathan Branfman's website Lili Rosen's website Lili Rosen film credits on IMDB Moonbeam Awards (You Be You won in 2019)

Queer Jewish Books

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    June is Pride Month ! In celebration, I am happy to provide this list of queer Jewish kidlit. This list includes a broad range of representation, from queer Jewish protagonists to minor characters.   Please note that I have not read all of these books myself, so cannot vouch for their quality. On the other hand, some of these are books or authors I've podcasted about, and if so I'll provide a link. If you have any feedback about these titles, or any others to suggest, please leave a comment!   PICTURE BOOKS Havdalah Sky by Chris Barash Adopting Ahava by Jennifer Byrne  The Rosh Hashanah Recipe by Laura Gehl The Hanukkah Hunt by Laura Gehl The Flower Girl Wore Celery by Meryl G. Gordon The Purim Superhero by Elisabeth Kushner MIDDLE GRADE Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow  You Be You: The Kids Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family (Yiddish edition) by Jonathan Branfman, translated by Lili Rosen Repairing the World by Linda Epstein Lily & Dunkin by Donna Gephart The

Unite Against Book Bans

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    JOIN UNITE AGAINST BOOK BANS     🕮    Recently, libraries and schools have been facing an outrageous number of book challenges. Jewish tradition encourages debate and the exchange of ideas, and to me, the attempted repression we are seeing right now is diametrically opposed to Jewish values and American values. Books about marginalized communities, including the Jewish community, have been targeted. Librarians and educators are being vilified. It's time to speak out to protect the rights of all readers to have access to books that reflect their own experiences. That's why I asked Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the Director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, to come on the podcast and talk about censorship and ALA's Unite Against Book Bans campaign. LEARN MORE: Unite Against Book Bans campaign TOOLKIT for Unite Against Book Bans Confidential Censorship Reporting Tool ALA Off

Jewish American Heritage Month Reading Recommendations

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To celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month this May, I posted a Jewish kidlit recommendation set in an American location each day on Facebook . Here are all of the recommendations with links to podcasts or reviews, for your #JewishAmericanHeritageMonth reading pleasure. FYI, May is also Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Month - see my intersectional reading list of Jewish/Asian kidlit ! May 1, 2022 VERMONT Wayward Creatures by Dayna Lorentz is a middle grade contemporary novel told in two voices: a troubled Jewish boy and a wayward coyote. May 2, 2022 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros is a queer Jewish historical fantasy young adult thriller.  May 3, 2022 ARIZONA The Sundown Kid: A Southwestern Shabbat by Barbara Bietz is a historical picture book about a Jewish family creating community in their new home out west.  May 4, 2022 BALTIMORE, MARYLAND The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman is a contemporary middle grade novel about Black

May Twofer: A Jewish + Asian Intersectional Booklist

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The month of May is "heritage month" for a number of cultures in the United States. Uppermost in my mind, of course, is Jewish American Heritage Month , established in 2006. Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Month is also celebrated in May, as is Haitian Heritage Month .   While I can't think of any children's books that include both Jewish and Haitian content, I am aware of a number of titles that include Jewish and Asian characters, and in some cases, characters who have a combined Jewish/Asian identity. Here, then, is my two-for-one booklist, celebrating both Jewish American Heritage Month and Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Month, at the same time.  Please note that I have not read all of these books myself, so cannot vouch for their quality. On the other hand, some of these are books or authors I've podcasted about, and if so I'll provide a link. If you have any feedback about these titles, or any others to suggest,

Wayward Creatures

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    BUY THE BOOK     🕮     Wayward Creatures by Dayna Lorentz is a heartfelt animal friendship story for middle grade readers, told from the points of view of both a troubled young Jewish boy and the wayward coyote he befriends after a forest fire changes both of their lives. A local restorative justice program helps Gabe learn the value of community and tikkun olam. This book takes place in the United States of America in the state of Vermont. During Jewish American Heritage Month in May, I'll be posting a Jewish American kidlit title every day on Facebook . Follow along to see my recommendations, and share your own favorites! LEARN MORE:  Buy Wayward Creatures Author Dayna Lorentz's website Burlington VT Community Justice Center (they provided guidance about restorative justice)  The Killington VT forest fire that burned underground How to handle living near coyotes and opossums Video of a coyote and badger hunti

Holiday Highlights: The Best New Passover Books

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     🕮    Regular listeners will remember my friend Susan Kusel, a librarian/bookseller/author who partners with me frequently to promote Jewish children's literature. In this episode, we discuss Holiday Highlights, a project we set up through the Association of Jewish Libraries. Our expert committee, Amy Lilien-Harper, Robbin Friedman, and Sylvie Shaffer, compile seasonal Holiday Highlights lists representing the best Jewish children's holiday books each Spring and Fall. We tell you all about the project, and about the amazing Passover picture books on the Spring 2022 Holiday Highlights list. Why were we both wearing tiaras during our Zoom call? You'll have to listen to the episode to find out. LEARN MORE: Holiday Highlights Susan Kusel's website Guest Post: How to Support Jewish Children's Literature  SPRING 2022 Holiday Highlights Shabbat Shalom & A New Week by Vicki Weber Raquela's Seder by Joel E

Guest Spot: Jewish Joy on Everyone Loved It But Me

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     🕮    When I was interviewed by Lisa Hedger on the Everyone Loved It But Me podcast, I told her about the many issues I have with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, but I also suggested some alternate titles and urged listeners to seek out books of Jewish joy. Lisa used that part of our conversation in a separate "Book Bits" episode, which you can listen to here. Below are links to some of the titles and resources we discussed. LEARN MORE: Heidi's interview about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas My Completely Unofficial 2022 Sydney Taylor Shortlist (for joyful Jewish book suggestions) Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero by E. Lockhart (on The Book of Life, November 2021 ) The Unfinished Corner by Dani Colman (on The Book of Life, March 2022 ) All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (on The Book of Life, October 2007 ) Aviva vs. the Dybbuk by Mari Lowe  The Sydney Taylor Book Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries

Guest Spot: Everyone Loved It But Me

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     🕮    I was pleased to be a guest on the podcast Everyone Loved It But Me , hosted by Lisa Hedger. I spoke about the many issues I have with the middle grade Holocaust novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. This fall, a sequel will be released, entitled All the Broken Places . I urge you to approach this sequel with great caution. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is rife with historical inaccuracies, impossible scenarios, emotional manipulation, and tone-deaf messaging, and the author has shown only defensiveness in the face of the many criticisms he has received. I don't hold high hopes for the sequel to be any better, and I don't want this author to continue to profit from literary exploitation of the tragedy that was the Holocaust. In my personal opinion, Boyne's books should be put aside and attention should instead be paid to more authentic works of fiction and nonfiction about the Holocaust (see re

The Unfinished Corner

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    BUY THE BOOK     🕮    The Unfinished Corner, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist, is a graphic novel that challenges a bat mitzvah girl and her group of diverse Jewish friends to finish a corner of the universe left unfinished by God, in order to rid the world of evil. It's a bold premise, brilliantly carried out with a mix of ancient folklore and modern thinking. I was excited to speak with author Dani Colman to learn more. LEARN MORE: Buy The Unfinished Corner Author  Dani Colman's website Colorist Whitney Cogar's website Editor Rebecca "Tay" Taylor's website Illustrator Rachel "Tuna" Petrovicz's website Letterer Jim Campbell's website Vault Comics website  / Wonderbound imprint website CREDITS: Produced by Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel Co-sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries Sister podcast: Nice Jewish Books Theme Music: The Fr

Good Grief

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     🕮    Today I've got a group interview for you, with three authors whose books each take a different and fascinating angle on dealing with grief. It's a difficult topic to talk about with young people but these books handle it with grace and sensitivity. Tyler Feder, author of the Sydney Taylor Book Award winning graphic memoir for young adults, Dancing at the Pity Party , middle grade novelist Emily Barth Isler, whose debut book is called Aftermath , and returning guest Joanne Levy, who was on the show in October 2020 to talk about Fish Out of Water , is back with her new middle grade novel Sorry for Your Loss , a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. LEARN MORE: Buy Dancing at the Pity Party Author Tyler Feder Tyler's Dad's review of her book on GoodReads Buy Aftermath Author Emily Barth Isler Buy Sorry for Your Loss Author Joanne Levy Joanne's guest post "How to Support Jewish Children's Literature" Em

Guest Post: How to Support Jewish Children's Literature

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  by Joanne Levy I originally wrote a post in the Jewish Kidlit Mavens Facebook group summing up my thoughts and feelings about getting the word out about Jewish kidlit. A staunch supporter of Jewish kidlit herself, Heidi invited me to expand what she called a "manifesto" for posting here. I truly believe that to end hate, including antisemitism, which is on the rise (again/still) in the world, we need to build empathy in our kids. It’s a long game but I think the best way to be proactive is to get our kids reading widely. To normalize the varied and diverse experiences of contemporary Judaism. Being a Jew who writes books about Jewish kids, I’m always thinking about how to get more books with Jewish characters in the hands of kids. All kids—Jewish and non-Jewish alike. Since I'm an author, by definition, this post is self-serving BUT I've been thinking a lot lately about all Jewish books and getting more of them out into the world. In particular, into mainstream pl

WORKSHOP: How to be an Ally to Jewish Patrons and Students

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The Association of Jewish Libraries & StoryTime Solidarity Present:  How to be an Ally to Jewish Patrons and Students (Even in a Non-Jewish Neighborhood) ~~~~~ Sunday, March 20, 2022 1:00PM PT / 4:00PM ET The FBI reports that 60% of all religious hate crimes target Jewish people despite the fact that only 2% of America’s population identifies as Jewish. As librarians and educators, how can we push back against this injustice? Join Storytime Solidarity and the Association of Jewish Libraries for a free workshop on standing in solidarity with the Jewish community. Get answers to the questions you didn’t know you wanted to ask, learn about Jewish diversity, and find out what actions you can take and what books you can buy to help the Jewish community—even if you have no Jewish patrons or students! Presented by librarians Heidi Rabinowitz, Susan Kusel, Rebecca Levitan, and Sylvie Shaffer. Free and open to the public. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIuf-u

The 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour: The Gold Medalists

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     🕮    Welcome to this special edition of The Book of Life, recorded as a part of the 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! Visit https://jewishlibraries.org/2022-blog-tour/ to find the full schedule of interviews with the gold and silver medalists, published February 7th to 11th, 2022 and available thereafter to read at your convenience. I had the pleasure of speaking with the gold medalists: Susan Kusel and Sean Rubin, author and illustrator of the picture book The Passover Guest , Veera Hiranandani, author of the middle grade novel How to Find What You're Not Looking For , and Aden Polydoros, author of the young adult novel The City Beautiful . I hope you'll enjoy the conversation as much as we did.  LEARN MORE: Buy The Passover Guest Author Susan Kusel's website Susan's Tikkun Olam suggestion: read Jews Don't Count by David Baddiel Illustrator Sean Rubin's website Sean's Tikkun Olam suggestion:

The 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Awards, Revealed

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     🕮    Martha Seif Simpson is the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries. She joined us to discuss the 2022 winners of the award, which annually recognizes the best Jewish literature for children and teens. AJL is an affiliate of the American Library Association , so the Sydney Taylor Book Awards are announced at ALA's Youth Media Awards press conference, being held virtually this year on January 24, 2022. You can watch a recording of the announcement on ALA's YouTube channel . Here's my unofficial shortlist of deserving books, and here's the official 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award press release and the printable list of winners, honors, and notable books. You can also scroll down to see all the winning titles listed, with links to any past podcast appearances by the authors on The Book of Life. A week after the official announcement at ALA, AJL will hold an &qu

Jewish Book Carnival: January 2022

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  The Jewish Book Carnival is a monthly roundup of Jewish literary links from across the blogosphere. Sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries, it is hosted by a different blog each month and shares book reviews, author interviews, essays, and other blog posts about Jewish books. Visit the Jewish Book Carnival HQ for the upcoming schedule, past Carnivals, and to learn how to participate! Hanukkah and Christmas may be over but this Holiday Heroes interview will still warm your heart. Here on The Book of Life I brought together Lee Wind, author of Red and Green and Blue and White , and Jeff Gottesfeld, author of The Christmas Mitzvah , for a joint interview . Both books are based on inspiring true stories, and I included them both on my Completely Unofficial 2022 Sydney Taylor Shortlist . A Jewish Grandmother reviews The Last Words We Said by Leah Sheier, which is about three close teenage friends, all Jewish from Modern Orthodox homes, trying to deal with the disappearance a