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Viewing Blog: The Book of Life, Most Recent at Top
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A monthly podcast about Jewish books, music, film and web.
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1. The Legacy of Jewish Swimmers

Karen Propp with Manuscript Award Chair Aileen Grossberg

Karen Propp discusses her work in progress, Freestyle, a story of Jewish female swimming champs in Europe during WWII. The unpublished work won the 2013 Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries. 

Freestyle is based on the true story of champion swimmer Judith Deutsch and the Viennese Hakoah swim team of the 1930s, familiar to some from the documentary film Watermarks. Despite being selected by Austria to swim in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Deutsch and her teammates boycotted the Olympics to protest the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.

The novel covers two years in the life of Elly Hirsch,  Propp’s fictional incarnation of Deutsch. The Award committee felt that Freestyle with its strong sense of history, sympathetic characters, and little known story, would appeal to a wide audience and epitomize the ideals of Sydney Taylor’s All of a Kind Family series. Freestyle looks at the years of the Holocaust with a unique light.

AUDIO: 

Press 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.




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2. The Seminar on Jewish Story

Temple Emanu-El

On May 18, 2014, The Seminar on Jewish Story will take place at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, New York. This day-long event will be a celebration of Jewish literature in its many forms, from fiction to memoir, poetry to children's books. I spoke to organizer Barbara Krasner, who told me some of the exciting highlights of the Seminar, which is a co-production of the Whole Megillah and the Association of Jewish Libraries.

Click here to learn more about the Seminar on Jewish Story, or email Barbara directly at barbarakrasner [at] att [dot] net. Act soon, because she's running a $99 special on registration! I'll be at the event, and I hope to see you there....

AUDIO:

Press the Play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click on 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. 


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3. The Jewish Book Carnival


I am pleased to bring you the March 2014 edition of the Jewish Book Carnival, a monthly roundup of Jewish literary links from across the blogosphere! If you blog about Jewish books, you can play too! Visit the Jewish Book Carnival HQ for info about submitting your links to upcoming carnivals.
~~~~~ * ~~~~~

I'd like to draw your attention to an earlier post here on The Book of Life, when I interviewed editor Steven Bergson about The Jewish Comix Anthology. The Kickstarter campaign to fund this project was successful, with 289 backers raising CAD$52,777, so we can look forward to reading this amazing collection soon.

In March, Jill at Rhapsody in Books reviewed One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper, about a rabbi's son who is not convinced his life has any meaning. At once both tragic and funny, this story captures the essence of family and the various bonds among family members.

The Whole Megillah welcomed a guest post by Seminar on Jewish Story fiction panelist Erika Dreifus and featured an interview with memoir panelist Tahneer Oksman. The Seminar on Jewish Story will be held May 18 at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, hosted by The Whole Megillah LLC in partnership with the Association of Jewish Libraries. Click here for info about attending the event!

On My Machberet, Erika Dreifus shares a brief and meaningful excerpt on Jewish identity from The Amos Oz Reader.

As part of the 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour, Ann Koffsky interviewed author/illustrator Patricia Polacco about her award-winning picture sequel to The Keeping Quilt, called  The Blessing Cup.

At The Jewish Book Council's Prosen People blog, Emily Stone, author of Did Jew Know? looks at who's Jewish in Hollywood in "Six Degrees of Kevin's Bacon" and includes a little quiz to test your knowledge. Plus, check out this interview with Leah Vincent, author of Cut Me Loose: Sin & Salvation After My Ultra Orthodox Girlhood. 

In Israel, Kathe Pinchuck at Life is Like a Library had the opportunity to visit the Bible Lands Museum and see the exhibit "Book of Books."

Anne Perry at Reading Rabbi reviews My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead, and the timely Passover Parodies: Short Plays for the Seder Table by Shoshana Hantman.

At the Me-Ander blog, Batya Medad reviews The Hope Merchant by Adam Berkowitz.

Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod at Write Kids' Books! offers an interview with Israeli author/illustrator Miri Leshem-Pelly, and and interview with British author/illustrator Jo Litchfield, whose books have been translated into Hebrew.

Thanks to all the bloggers who submitted links, and to YOU for reading them! Join us in April when the Jewish Book Carnival will be hosted by Barbara Krasner at The Whole Megillah!


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4. The Jewish Comix Anthology



The Jewish Comix Anthology is a project that brings together the work of 47 artists, featuring both previously published and brand-new bespoke comic creations. It's the brainchild of Steven M. Bergson, an expert on the representation of Jews in comics, and an old friend of mine from the Association of Jewish Libraries.

A Kickstarter campaign is running now through March 5, 2014 to fund the publication of The Jewish Comix Anthology. Contribute now to pre-order a copy of the book, and to get other exciting rewards like original art!

I spoke to Steven about the project and the Kickstarter by Skype, at his home in Toronto, Canada.

AUDIO:

Press the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click on 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. 




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5. Final Day of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2014

The 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour draws to a close with one last gold-medal winner, and a virtual roundtable with the whole group. It's been great! Thanks to all who participated!

Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of The Blessing Cup
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Ann Koffsky's Blog

Blog Tour Wrap-Up with All Authors and Illustrators
At The Whole Megillah

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6. The Penultimate Day of the 2014 Sydney Taylor Blog Tour

Cosei Kawa, illustrator of Rifka Takes a Bow
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Jewish Books for Children

Elisabeth Leyson and Dr. Marilyn J. Harran, contributors to The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler’s List
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At The Interlace Place

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7. Day 3: Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2014

Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Randomly Reading

Carol Matas, author of Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Pen and Prose

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8. Day 2 of the 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour

Exciting interviews today with the author and illustrator of the gold medalist Passover picture book The Longest Night, and the silver medal novel for teens, Dancing in the Dark!

Laurel Snyder, author of The Longest Night
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Geo Librarian

Catia Chen, illustrator of The Longest Night
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Holy Sparks

Robyn Bavati, author of Dancing in the Dark
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Bildungsroman

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9. Sydney Taylor Book Award 2014 Blog Tour: Day 1

The first round of interviews for this year's Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour have been posted! Follow the links to read all about it!

Renee Londner, author of Stones for Grandpa
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At The Write Stuff

Martha Aviles, illustrator of Stones for Grandpa
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Practically Paradise

Aline Sax, author, Caryl Strzelecki, illustrator, and Laura Watkinson, translator of The War Within These Walls
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, Research

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10. Inspiration Then and Now: Raoul Wallenberg


Wallenberg was a Swedish humanitarian who worked in Budapest during World War II to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. Author Louise Borden, inspired by Raoul as a person and as a historical figure, created a stunning biography, His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, which won the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Older Readers Category. This interview with Louise took place at the 2013 Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Houston, Texas, where she received her award.


Louise Borden at AJL Conference
AUDIO:

Press the play button to listen to the podcast now:

Or click on 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. 




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11. 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour



The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be celebrating and showcasing its 2014 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour, February 16-20, 2014! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a wide variety of Jewish and kidlit blogs. For those of you who have not yet experienced a Blog Tour, it’s basically a virtual book tour. Instead of going to a library or bookstore to see an author or illustrator speak, you go to a website on or after the advertised date to read an author’s or illustrator’s interview. 

Below is the schedule for the 2014 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!

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2014

Renee Londner, author of Stones for Grandpa
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At The Write Stuff


Martha Aviles, illustrator of Stones for Grandpa
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Practically Paradise


Aline Sax, author, Caryl Strzelecki, illustrator, and Laura Watkinson, translator of The War Within These Walls
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, Research

 
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2014

Laurel Snyder, author of The Longest Night
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Geo Librarian


Catia Chen, illustrator of The Longest Night
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Holy Sparks


Robyn Bavati, author of Dancing in the Dark
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Bildungsroman


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2014

Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Randomly Reading


Carol Matas, author of Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Pen and Prose


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2014

Cosei Kawa, illustrator of Rifka Takes a Bow
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Jewish Books for Children

 
Elisabeth Leyson, contributor to The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler’s List
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At The Interlace Place


THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of The Blessing Cup
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Ann Koffsky's Blog


Blog Tour Wrap-Up with All Authors and Illustrators
At The Whole Megillah

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12. Announcing the 2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards!

 


Laurel Snyder and Catia Chien, author and illustrator of The Longest Night: A Passover Story, Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of The Blessing Cup, and Neal Bascomb, author of The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, are the 2014 winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. 

 
The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada this June. 

Snyder and Chien will receive the 2014 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Readers category for The Longest Night: A Passover Story, published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Written in gentle verse, the tumultuous days leading up to the Jews’ flight from Egypt are described from the perspective of an unnamed slave girl in this beautifully illustrated story. It provides a unique introduction to the Passover holiday for young readers in an honest, but age-appropriate way. 

 
The gold medal in the Older Readers category will be presented to Patricia Polacco for The Blessing Cup, a Paula Wiseman Book, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In this prequel to The Keeping Quilt, Polacco shares the story of a treasured family heirloom. The miraculous journey from the shtetl to America of the remaining teacup from a china tea set, deliberately left behind when her Jewish ancestors were forced to leave Czarist Russia, will strike an emotional chord with readers. In 1988, The Keeping Quilt was the Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers. 

Neal Bascomb will receive the 2014 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen Readers category for The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. A stunning account of the mission to capture Adolf Eichmann by an elite team of Israeli spies is dramatically brought to life by Neal Bascomb.


  

Sydney Taylor Honor Books Selected for 2014:

Younger Readers:
  • Stones for Grandpa by Renee Londoner with illustrations by Martha Avilés 
  • Rifka Takes a Bow by Betty Rosenberg Perlov with illustrations by Cosei Kawa. (both by Kar-Ben, a division of Lerner Publishing Group)
Older Readers:
  • The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible...on Schindler’s List by Leon Leyson with Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division) 
  • Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1948 by Carol Matas (Scholastic Canada)
Teen Readers:
  • Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati (Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide) 
  • The War Within These Walls by Aline Sax with illustrations by Caryl Strzelecki and translated by Laura Watkinson (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)
Gold and silver medalists will be participating in a blog tour beginning February 16, 2014. 

In addition to the medal winners, the Award Committee designated thirteen Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2014




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13. Hannah's Way




An interview with author Linda Glaser and illustrator Adam Gustavson, creators of the picture book Hannah's Way which won the 2013 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers Category.

After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah’s family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot ride on the Sabbath. What will she do? A lovely story of friendship and community.




AUDIO:

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

UPCOMING PROJECTS FOR LINDA AND ADAM: 

Bim! Sings the Baby by Linda Glaser




Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year, illustrated by Adam Gustavson



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. 




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14. The Whole Megillah Blog Becomes a Company!



NEW SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE TO WRITERS OF JEWISH LITERARY FICTION AND NONFICTION
Popular blog is now a new company aimed at nurturing Jewish writers

SOMERSET, NJ, January 9, 2014—Jewish writers now have a prepublication, publication, and post-publication advocate for their work. The Whole Megillah LLC has been formed specifically to help shape, nurture, and promote Jewish story.
“This is a natural expansion of The Whole Megillah blog that debuted in 2010. Followers and workshop participants asked for more services. The Whole Megillah LLC can now provide them,” says president and publisher Barbara Krasner.
The Whole Megillah LLC offers Jewish writers:
Barbara Krasner holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an MBA from Rutgers University. She has been leading and coordinating workshops and conferences for Jewish writers since 2004. An adjunct professor teaching creative writing at William Paterson University, she is the author of five books, hundreds of articles, and short fiction and poetry. She has more than thirty years of marketing experience in the communications, high-technology, and Internet services industries.

“Barbara has shown her amazing dedication to supporting Jewish literature through her blog, her workshops, and her participation on AJL’s Sydney Taylor Book Award committee. The Whole Megillah blog stands out from the crowd because of its constructive critical eye, the clarity of its presentation, and its professional reach. I’m excited to see Barbara bring her talents to the world of publishing!” says Heidi Estrin, President of the Association of Jewish Libraries.

The company already has a 2014 program in play:
For more information, see the company’s website. All requests for services and the publishing program should go through Contact Us on the website.

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15. 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. 

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16. 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.

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17. 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. 




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18. 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. 




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19. 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. 


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20. 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. 




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21. 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.

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22. 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!


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23. 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. 

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24. 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.

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25. 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

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