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Showing posts from 2022

My Completely Unofficial 2023 Sydney Taylor Book Award Shortlist

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Last year I did an unofficial shortlist and it seemed like people found it helpful, so I thought I'd do it again. As y'all know, I'm a former member and chair of the Association of Jewish Libraries' Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, and a cofounder of The Sydney Taylor Shmooze mock award blog, so I have a deep and abiding interest in seeking out the best Jewish kidlit of the year. I'm not actually making predictions about what will win; rather, I'm telling you that these are the books that I think deserve your attention (with the caveat that while I probably read the majority of Jewish children's or YA books published in 2022, I did not read ALL of them, so there may be other titles I'd consider worthy if I'd had the chance to read them). I've listed the titles within their age categories alphabetically by author's last name. We'll find out whether the Real Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee agrees with me when the winners are announ

Guest Post: The Peddler's Gift by Maxine Rose Schur

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The classic picture book, The Peddler's Gift , winner of the 1999 Sydney Taylor Book Award, is back in print. Author Maxine Rose Schur joined The Book of Life to answer a few questions, below.  First, what is the book about? From Lawley Publishing: When Shnook, the peddler, arrives in the sleepy town of Korovenko, young Leibush runs to meet him. Every peddler brings merriment to the village, but simple Shnook brings more laughs than any of them. On this visit, Shnook’s wares include beautiful, hand-carved dreidels. Leibush can’t take his eyes off them! When Leibush notices one mistakenly left behind, he makes excuses for keeping the dreidel. It isn’t until Leibush makes amends that he learns the peddler’s simple ways might just be a cover for a wealth of wisdom and forgiveness. And when Hanukkah comes, Shnook leaves Leibush a gift to last a lifetime. Acclaimed author Maxine Rose Schur’s dramatic story has a simple voice that speaks volumes about the depth of kindness and honor that

It's Always a Party with a Sephardi

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    BUY AROESTE / HODDER BOOKS     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    Sarah Aroeste is a singer/songwriter of Ladino music, a leader of Sephardic travel tours, and an author of board books featuring Sephardic culture and Ladino vocabulary. Bridget Hodder is a Sephardic author of middle grade and picture books, who frequently collaborates with Muslim author Fawzia Gilani-Williams ( past Book of Life guest, 2017 ) on stories about interfaith friendship. We recorded this episode live and in person at the Highlights Foundation's Symposium for Jewish Creatives .  LEARN MORE: Buy Buen Shabat, Shabbat Shalom Buy The Button Box Sarah Aroeste's website Bridget Hodder's website Podcast mentioned: The Forgotten Exodus TREATS FOR YOU: #JewishBookMonth Reading Challenge Hanukkah Guest Post on The Book of Life by Maxine Rose Schur about The Peddler's Gift , upcoming on December 18, 2022  GRATITUDE: Many thanks to Dianne Siekmann for bec

#JewishBookMonth Reading Challenge

  For Erika's original blog post in which she introduced this Reading Challenge, click here . 

PBCL Book Talks: History of Jewish Children's Literature

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Palm Beach County Libraries Wednesday, November 16, 2022 These are the titles and resources mentioned during Heidi Rabinowitz's Zoom presentation on the history of Jewish children's literature. Most of these titles are available at Palm Beach County Libraries .  To view the presentation slides, click here .

Orthodox Excellence: New YA Novels Centering Orthodox Characters

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST    |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT    |    BUY BLUM / SCHEIER BOOKS     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    Representation of Orthodox Judaism has been virtually non-existent in traditionally published contemporary young adult fiction, but that is starting to change. In this episode, I spoke with Leah Scheier, author of The Last Words We Said published by Simon & Schuster, and Isaac Blum, author of The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen, published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. These two young adult novels offer layered and insightful portraits of well-rounded Orthodox characters in books aimed well beyond an Orthodox readership.  LEARN MORE: Buy The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen Buy The Last Words We Said   Isaac Blum's website Leah Scheier's website Leah's Tikkun Olam suggestion: support Save a Child's Heart BONUS: JEWISH BOOK MONTH RECOMMENDATIONS LEAH: I'm happy to recommend THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak for its beautiful prose, YOU&

The Very Best Sukkah

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST     |    READ THE TRANSCRIPT     |    BUY THE BOOK     ๐Ÿ•ฎ    The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda is Shoshana Nambi's debut picture book. She is a member of the Abayudaya, the Jewish community of Uganda, and is in the U.S. studying at Hebrew Union College to become the country's first female rabbi. This delightful story, rich with authentic detail, was named to the Association of Jewish Libraries' Fall 2022 Holiday Highlights list . We bring you this interview just in time for Sukkot, which takes place October 9-16, 2022.  LEARN MORE: Buy The Very Best Sukkah Kalaniot publisher website  Shoshana Nambi's online lecture for Congregation Am Haskalah Illustrator Moran Yogev's Instagram Smithsonian album Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda February 2009 Book of Life interview with Rabbi Gershom Sizomu Tikkun Olam suggestion: support Kulanu.org   CREDITS: Produced by Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Isr

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