Monday, November 16, 2009

Jewish Book Month's Hot Authors


SHOW NOTES:

A chat with Lisa Silverman of the Jewish Book Council about the authors going on tour this fall for Jewish Book Month, and the process by which they are selected.

AUDIO:

Click the play button on this flash player to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to start your computer's media player.

EMBED:

If you'd like to place this audio on your own web site, please use this stand-alone player from Entertonement. Click the embed button and copy the code!



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 fan page: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast
Twitter: @bookoflifepod

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pick Up the Phone!


SHOW NOTES:

The Book of Life now has voicemail, courtesy of Google Voice. We're waiting to hear from you, at 561-206-2473!


AUDIO:

Click the play button on this flash player to listen to the podcast now:

Or click MP3 File to start 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 fan page: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast
Twitter: @bookoflifepod

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our new voicemail number at 561-206-2473!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Kvetchfessional!


SHOW NOTES:

Author Simone Elkeles (author of the "How to Ruin" series) and kidlit expert and professor June Cummins discuss trends in Jewish YA chick lit at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Chicago, Illinois. You can hear June's lecture at this conference, "Bat Mitzvah and Beyond" on the AJL Podcast.

AUDIO:

Click the play button on this flash player to listen to the podcast now:



Or click
MP3 File to start your computer's media player.

EMBED:

If you'd like to place this audio on your own web site, please use this stand-alone player from Entertonement. Click the embed button and copy the code!



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 fan page: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast
Twitter: @bookoflifepod

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Author Esther Hautzig Dies at Age 79



[I wrote this post for The Sydney Taylor Book Award blog, but I thought it might be of interest to Book of Life followers as well so I am reproducing it in full for you.]

School Library Journal
broke the news today (see obit) that author Esther Hautzig died on Sunday, November 1 at the age of 79. Esther Rudomin Hautzig was the author of the memoir The Endless Steppe, about her experiences in Siberia, where her family was exiled during WWII, ultimately saving their lives. The book was the winner of AJL's first book award in 1968 (before the award was even called the "Sydney Taylor").

Esther attended the 2004 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Brooklyn, NY, where she received a standing ovation during the Awards Banquet in honor of her status as inaugural award winner. Besides winning the gold medal for The Endless Steppe in 1968, Esther also received a silver Sydney Taylor Honor Award in 1992 for Riches and silver again in 2002 for A Picture of Grandmother.

In 2002, School Library Journal included a rather tepid review of A Picture of Grandmother, calling it "a slight story." Feeling that the reviewer had missed the point, I wrote a letter to the editor explaining that anyone who knew the "backstory" of Hautzig's childhood, a warm family life disrupted by the war, would understand that A Picture of Grandmother was a poignant tribute to the lives of those who were lost. It celebrated the beautiful normalcy of their lives instead of bemoaning their deaths.

After the letter was printed in SLJ, I received an envelope with the name "Esther Hautzig" in the upper left hand corner. I almost hyperventilated. I had just finished listening to the audiobook of The Endless Steppe the week before, and still felt very close to the "character" of Esther's younger self. To my shock and delight, Esther had read my defense of her book in SLJ and had sent me a heartfelt letter and a packet of articles about Holocaust writing for children. She thanked me for the positive review I'd written for the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter (see below for review text) and she said "Your letter to SLJ made me cry. The original review (and the reviewer's response) made me cry for quite another reason. Your support of the premise, and my reason for writing it, was balm for my soul."

This was perhaps the most important thing an author has ever said to me, because it made me realize that the audience for reviews is not just fellow librarians or parents shopping for their children, it's the authors themselves. Esther taught me how very important it is to review books respectfully, and to respond to a book not only with emotion but with substantive critiques.

Just that exchange of letters would have been enough (dayenu!) but I was fortunate to have my cake and eat it too. Not only did Esther join us at our AJL convention in Brooklyn in 2004, she also met me when I traveled to New York on other occasions, getting together for a cozy dinner at a German restaurant, for a back-room tour of the Donnell Library where she worked, or for an afternoon tea break. Although I only knew her briefly, and probably spent less than 24 hours with her when you add it all together, she made me feel as if we were intimate friends. She gave me a copy of her book Remember Who You Are: Stories About Being Jewish and a classical piano CD by her husband Walter, a concert pianist. (Listen to Walter play in the video below, and watch for Esther in the audience at the 50 second mark.) I gave her a set of stationary cards printed with nature photographs taken by my husband, Jonathan, and a CD recording of my own Book of Life podcast. We took the bus together across Manhattan, and she made sure I had a transfer ticket before she got off at her stop.

Esther was the most gracious lady, one of those shining souls who makes the people around them feel good. I'll follow her lead from A Picture of Grandmother (and really from all of her writing) and say, not how much I'll miss her, but how glad I am to have known her.

A Picture of Grandmother by Esther Hautzig, illustrated by Beth Peck, Farrar Straus & Giroux 2002 (review by Heidi Estrin from Amazon.com, originally appeared in AJL Newsletter)

The Association of Jewish Libraries awarded this book a Sydney Taylor Book Award silver medal, and it truly deserves recognition. It's a quiet gem. At face value, it's about the value of truth, the importance of forgiveness, and the joy of family bonding. The language is simple yet elegant, formal in a European way that adds flavor to the Vilna setting. Young readers will be drawn in by the mystery that baffles Sara and the honesty of the emotions portrayed will resonate with them. On another level, the story is a remarkable tribute to the author's pre-war childhood. As anyone who has read Hautzig's The Endless Steppe knows, most of her family perished in the Holocaust; she survived with her parents and grandmother only because they were exiled to Siberia as capitalists. In this book she brings her belvoed Vilna back to life, peoples it with her extended family, and breathes significance back into matters that the Nazis were soon to treat as inconsequential. Rathe rthan describe the disruption of family connections by war, she examines the history of the family and the mending of broken connections. Although it takes place in 1939 the story has nothing to do with war, highlighting the normalcy that was soon to be destroyed and intensifying the poignancy for those who know Hautzig's history. The story is fiction, but it is based on real events in Hautzig's childhood, and many of the characters bear he names of her actual relatives. The facts may be fictional but the feelings are real.