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The Book of Life: Jewish Kidlit (Mostly)

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The Book of Life is an interview-format podcast about Jewish kidlit, mostly, with occasional coverage of Jewish YA/adult books, music, film and web, established in December 2005.
Host: Heidi Rabinowitz
Sponsors: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida & the Association of Jewish Libraries Continue Reading >>
The Book of Life is an interview-format podcast about Jewish kidlit, mostly, with occasional coverage of Jewish YA/adult books, music, film and web, established in December 2005.
Host: Heidi Rabinowitz
Sponsors: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida & the Association of Jewish Libraries << Show Less
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Detour Ahead SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/08/detour-ahead.html 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 López's website Detour Ahead playlist
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Detour Ahead SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/08/detour-ahead.html 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 López's website Detour Ahead playlist
Catnip for Librarians: Smart Kids Talk About Books SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/07/catnip-for-librarians-smart-kids-talk.html Ten year old Hudson and thirteen year old Ellery are graduates of PJ Our Way's National Design Team. These two young 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.
Zay Getray Zikh Aleyn, or You Be You: The Kid's Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family SHOW NOTES:  https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/06/zikh-aleyn-zayn-getray-or-you-be-you.html 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 at https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/06/queer-jewish-books.html.
Unite Against Book Bans SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/06/unite-against-book-bans.html 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.
Wayward Creatures SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/05/wayward-creatures.html 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 at https://www.facebook.com/Bookoflifepodcast. Follow along to see my recommendations, and share your own favorites!
Passover! "Holiday Highlights" SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/03/holiday-highlights-best-new-passover.html 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.
The Unfinished Corner SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/03/the-unfinished-corner.html   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.
Good Grief SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/02/good-grief.html 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.
Blog Tour 2022: The Sydney Taylor Book Award SHOW NOTES: https://jewishbooks.blogspot.com/2022/02/the-2022-sydney-taylor-book-award-blog.html 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/ 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.
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