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Showing posts from 2022

Some Kind of Hate

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    BUY THE BOOK     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    Sarah Darer Littman does not shy away from tough topics. Her middle grade and young adult novels address religious identity, internet predation, eating disorders, and online bullying. Her new YA novel, Some Kind of Hate , addresses radicalization and antisemitism. It's an important and all too timely book that helps readers understand how ordinary people can become radicalized extremists.  LEARN MORE: Buy Some Kind of Hate Sarah Darer Littman's website Educational resources for Some Kind of Hate Deeyah Kahn's film White Right: Meeting the Enemy Washingtonian article "What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right" The Book of Life's Justice section (resources for fighting antisemitism) StoryCorps One Small Step Sarah's earlier appearances on The Book of Life in 2006 for Confessions of a Closet Catholic and 2011 for Life, After    BOOKS SUGGESTED BY SARAH:

Detour Ahead

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    BUY THE BOOK     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    Detour Ahead is a contemporary middle grade novel about Gila and Guillermo and the way the H4 bus in Washington DC brings them together. Pamela Ehrenberg wrote the part of Gila, a neurodivergent white Jewish girl who loves breakdancing, and Tracy Lopez wrote Guillermo, a boy from a Salvadoran immigrant family who writes poetry. I was impressed by how well the two distinct voices wove together and how real the characters felt to me. It's a quiet story but cuts right to the heart. I especially enjoyed the nuanced depiction of b'nai mitzvah: Gila doesn't just want to get through the big day, she really wants to understand what it means to be an adult.  LEARN MORE: Buy Detour Ahead Pamela Ehrenberg's website Tracy Lรณpez's website Detour Ahead playlist  VIDEO (Tracy's choice for the song that best fits this book): CREDITS: Produced by Feldman Children's Library at Congreg

Publishers of Jewish Kidlit

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Periodically, the question comes up within the Jewish Kidlit Mavens group on Facebook about Jewish publishers of children's literature. For the convenience of the Jewish kidlit community, here is a list of such publishers. The list is in alphabetical order and includes descriptions taken from the publisher websites. Apples & Honey Press children's books Imprint of Behrman House Publishers "We publish high-quality books for children that depict contemporary, diverse Jewish life and strong Jewish values." http://www.behrmanhouse.com/apples-honey-press Artscroll/Mesorah Publications adult and children's books "The best in Torah literature"  https://www.artscroll.com/submission.html Ben Yehuda Press adult and children's books "We’re traditional… and innovative." https://www.benyehudapress.com/ EKS Publishing adult and children's books "Books and auxiliary learning aids for mastering Classical Hebrew" https://www.ekspublishing

Catnip for Librarians: Smart Kids Talk About Books

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    Ten year old Hudson and thirteen year old Ellery are graduates of PJ Our Way's National Design Team. These two avid readers joined me to discuss their love of reading in general and Jewish books in particular, as well as the societal significance of Jewish literature, libraries, and censorship. To extend your virtual visit with these delightful young people, check out the links below. LEARN MORE: PJ Our Way Knitting Lessons with Ellery at PJ Our Way Ellery’s Review of Gottika at PJ Our Way Hudson’s Review of Anya and the Dragon at PJ Our Way Hudson’s Review of Shield of the Maccabees at PJ Our Way Hudson's YouTube interview show, The Hudson Hangout   Watch for an upcoming article about Ellery in the PJ magazine Proof BOOKS & AUTHORS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE: Sweep by Jonthan Auxier Becoming Brianna , and Emmie & Friends series by Terri Libenson Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya Pasternack Max Einstein

Jewish Kidlit Action Checklist

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In 2020, I received the Groner-Wikler Award , sponsored by Kar-Ben Publishing and conferred by the Association of Jewish Libraries , for my advocacy for Jewish children's literature. The award includes a scholarship for conference attendance, and because of the pandemic, I was unable to use it until 2022. At #AJLcon22 , I gave a brief speech during the membership meeting, the text of which can be seen below, and will eventually appear in the AJL Conference Proceedings . I hope my speech and the accompanying handout above will inspire you to help me take action to change the world. Heidi Rabinowitz & Sean Boyle Acceptance Speech, Kar-Ben Publishing Groner-Wikler Scholarship Association of Jewish Libraries Conference, Philadelphia, PA June 28, 2022 When I got the email from Emily Bergman telling me I’d been awarded the Kar-Ben Publishing Groner-Wikler Scholarship, she explained that the committee was pleased to see all my work “not only on behalf of children's literature in

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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ     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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    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     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    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