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The Miscellaneous Club > April 2019: Sydney Taylor Book Award

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message 1: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Mar 30, 2019 06:53PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries since 1968, the award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature. Gold medals are presented in three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Honor Books are awarded silver medals, and Notable Books are named in each category.
Read as few or as many as you would like and have time for.


message 2: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Mar 30, 2019 06:53PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
The committee chose 1 winner in each of three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Then they chose two honor books in each category. They also chose four notable books in the Younger Readers and Older Readers categories, and 1 in the Teen Readers category. I will list only the books in the Younger Readers and Older Readers categories.

Winner for Young Readers
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins

Honor Books for Young Readers
Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art by Barb Rosenstock
A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben

Notable Books for Younger Readers
Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing by Nancy Churnin
Write On, Irving Berlin! by Leslie Kimmelman
French Toast Sundays by Gloria Spielman
The Passover Parrot by Evelyn Zusman


message 4: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Apr 01, 2019 11:48AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Are these all new books? My little local library isn't likely to have many if any, but I'll check. I'll have to see if my sons' does, next time I visit them.


message 5: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Apr 02, 2019 09:34PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
All of these books were published in 2018. My library's system does not have all of them, but it does have some of them.


message 6: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "All of these books were published in 2018. My library's system does not have all of them, but it does have some of them."

My library also only has some of them.


message 7: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 06, 2019 11:41AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
I know that All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah won the 2019 Sydney Taylor Award, but personally, I have found the story itself a bit disappointing especially with regard to how author Emily Jenkins has portrayed the mother. For in the All-of-a-Kind Family novels, the mother was in my opinion for one generally pretty inclusive and always made sure that none of the daughters were simply left out of participating in household chores and duties with not much explanation and therefore, I do find it a bit unbelievable that Mama would simply not allow four year old Gertie to help at all during the preparations of the latkes (and would basically keep repeating and pontificating to Gertie that she is too young to help and also at the same time quite ignore her until Gertie has a justifiable temper tantrum).

And for two, I also kind of tend to wonder whether Mama's constant restrictions and her denying Gertie any chance to help with the Hanukkah latkes preparations because of supposed "danger" might give in particular younger children the idea that making latkes is an inherently dangerous and problematic undertaking and that Hanukkah as a celebration is therefore also potentially threatening.

Now I did not actively dislike the book, and I very much have enjoyed Paul Zelinsky's accompanying illustrations (especially the layout of the family apartment), but All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah certainly has not totally enchanted me and is definitely (in my opinion) in no way on par with Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family novels.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Good points; I've not read it yet but it certainly does sound unlike the books, the whole point of which (as I read them and recall) was to encourage the girls to be strong & brave & good workers/ helpers.


message 9: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 06, 2019 12:13PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Good points; I've not read it yet but it certainly does sound unlike the books, the whole point of which (as I read them and recall) was to encourage the girls to be strong & brave & good workers/ ..."

Exactly, and in the story Mama basically keeps telling Gertie that she is too young to help, and instead of her being encouraged to find something for her to do (like perhaps sorting through the potatoes before they are peeled or being asked to set the table), Gertie is just ignored and left feeling useless.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art is in many ways a lovely book, evocative of Chagall's work. I do recommend it.

But there's a caveat. When the artist moves (escapes, effectively) to Paris, and changes his name, it's written about as if it's a universally good thing. The author's note explains why Moishe became Marc, but the text itself only implies that every Jew, or every person with a name that doesn't look native, *should* change his or her name to fit in.

In fact, there are a lot of questions raised but unanswered here, for the careful reader. The themes of creativity are well-handled, but the history and biography are so incomplete as to be confusing. I do not recommend that you simply give this to children, or read it alone & cold. Do your research first, try to find other sources for context.

And especially be ready to discuss why Chagall behaved as if he was rejecting his Jewish heritage. It does seem to me to be an odd choice for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.


message 11: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art is in many ways a lovely book, evocative of Chagall's work. I do recommend it.

But there's a caveat. When the artist moves ..."


I have not read this, as I am going to be picking up my library copy today (hopefully). However, with regard to immigrants changing their names to assimilate, personally, I have always been of the attitude that (especially for adult immigrants), if this, if changing a name to make it sound more English, more French, German etc. is done as their own personal choice, if it has not been forced onto them and if they have not been coerced into changing their names, it is to be respected and accepted as much as those immigrants who choose not to change their names. And sometimes, changing one's name is a matter of necessary convenience and even survival (I know personally, that even after more than forty years in Canada, many people still cannot and sometimes will not pronounce my first name Gundula correctly and often do have major issues with how to spell my last name Baehre, as the nomination ae which in German would be ä really tends to throw some people for a loop). Now if the text really implies that EVERY immigrant should be changing his or her name, then that would indeed be an issue and a problem (and it would kind of hearken back to how in the late 19th and early 20th century, especially continental European immigrants often simply had their names changed by immigration officers in both the USA and Canada, something that I have always found problematic as it often was not something that in any way was voluntary, for as I have mentioned before, immigrants should be respected if they choose to change their names but they should also never be forced to do that).


message 12: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1801 comments It's just a myth that immigrants' names were changed at Ellis Island. Their names went on a manifest when they booked passage in their own country and at Ellis Island they had interpreters to translate. I was surprised to see my grandmother, her siblings and mother listed on the manifest under Italian forms of their names. They always used their English equivalents and gave their youngest American born children Anglicized names. Other relatives changed their names or had their names changed because they were illiterate and census takers/government officials took what they heard and tried to spell it in their own way. Other distant relatives changed their names to English names as anti-Italian sentiment became higher around the time of the world wars.


message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael Fitzgerald | 367 comments Thank you so much for this! I had accepted the myth.

https://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/07/02/name-changes-ellis-island

https://theconversation.com/jewish-americans-changed-their-names-but-not-at-ellis-island-96152 puts forth an idea about why and when the myth started and gained traction.

Again, thank you!


message 14: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Thank you so much for this! I had accepted the myth.

https://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/07/02/...

https://theconversation.com/jewish-am......"


I think many of us accepted this as true.


message 15: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
Thank you, QNPoohBear and Michael for the information!


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Good to know the facts, and thank you. But for whatever reason, nobody should feel that they have to change their name and/or deny their heritage.

And while Moishe apparently was glad to escape Russia and that part of his life, in my interpretation the book made me feel as if the author encourages the practice wholeheartedly and universally. (And other reviewers have noted the same,)


message 17: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 09, 2019 07:23AM) (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Good to know the facts, and thank you. But for whatever reason, nobody should feel that they have to change their name and/or deny their heritage.

And while Moishe apparently was glad to escape ..."


I absolutely do not think that Chagall denied his heritage as much of his work incorporates both Jewish and Russian themes. And if he felt like changing his name, that was his choice and should be respected (and the book at least in my opinion in no way insinuates that the name change was coerced or forced, which would be another story altogether).


message 18: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
I was not as critical of this story as Gundula, above, since frankly, it has been so long since I read the original Taylor stories (when I was a child), that what I mainly remember from them is the girls going out to buy pickles. It seems to me that Mama was particularly stressed during this story for some reason, but she could have found something simple for Gertie to do. But Papa saves the day by letting her help him. I loved Zelinsky's illustrations, with all the details of life in the early 1900s.


message 19: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
I was not as critical of this story as Gundula, above, since frankly, it has been so long since I read the original Taylor stories (when I was a child), that what I ma..."


Agreed, I would have enjoyed this a lot more if Mama had found a simple task for Gertie.


message 20: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1801 comments Anyone interested in immigration to the U.S. should pay a visit to Ellis Island. The National Park Service does an amazing job maintaining the site as a museum. That's how I learned about the name change myth. No one should feel compelled to change their names but some do for various reasons. Marc Chagall chose a name close enough to the original to honor his birth name.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Ty, that's what I was trying to say. Fine for Marc, not fine for anyone who would prefer not to but feels as if they should because otherwise they'll be discriminated against, or for whatever other reason they feel the need to.

I dunno, it reminds me too much of people who are gay feeling as if they need to live in the closet, or light-skinned African Americans moving away from their families to 'pass' as white. If for their own personal comfort they want to do so, fine, it's their choice and of course I respect it. But I don't love that people feel as if they need to deny something about themselves to assimilate.

But imo this particular book implied that not only was a terrific thing for Marc to 'French-ify' (what would the word be?) his name, but that it'd be a good thing for every immigrant anywhere to do so. The "magic" of Paris "transformed" his name to something more "elegant" and brought him "new friends" in the "good-life" city.

It also reminds me of Floating Island that is considered racist because the black 'maid' doll envied the blond hair of the 'mama' doll.

And again, I'm not the only who sees this book as problematic. I'm not saying ban it, nor am I saying it's a bad book. I'm simply saying that educators should use it with caution.


message 22: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Ty, that's what I was trying to say. Fine for Marc, not fine for anyone who would prefer not to but feels as if they should because otherwise they'll be discriminated against, or for whatever other..."

I agree with what you are saying and in an ideal world, yes, no immigrant should feel pressured to change either his/her name or to deny his/her background, language, culture. However, the reality is often rather different. For example, when we moved from Germany to Canada, while I am glad that my parents did NOT choose to make our first names and our surnames sound more English, it was often a pain in the behind with people not knowing how to pronounce Gundula correctly (and often deliberately not pronouncing it correctly) and having major issues (which persist even today) with my surname of Baehre. Not to mention that my mother and father's German friends (whom they met after we had immigrated to Canada) and who had ALL immigrated in the 50s and 60s, considering the animosity and downright hatred they experienced simply because they were German, can one really criticise them for deliberately not teaching their Canadian born children German and making sure they all had English sounding names? I am just saying that there are multiple reasons why immigrants change their names and unless these name changes have been mandated by the authorities, I for one (and as an immigrant myself) think that one should accept this and respect this (even if one might regret it and think that it should not have to be the case).


message 23: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
From the three picture books I have read so far, from All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah, Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art and A Moon for Moe and Mo, I have definitely enjoyed the latter two more than the winner than All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah, and would probably if I had my choice have picked A Moon for Moe and Mo as my hands down favourite.

Now the story of Moses (Moe) Feldman and Mohammed (Mo) Hassan's emerging friendship as they and their mothers are shopping, are preparing to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (for Moe) and Ramadan (for Mo) in Jane Breskin Zalben's A Moon for Moe and Mo is aside from the interesting and enlightening cultural information about both celebrations (including recipes for rugelach and date cookies) first and foremost a sweet celebration of similarities over and above any and all perceived differences. For while Moses Feldman might be Jewish and Mohammed Hassan Muslim, both boys actually have many things in common (and yes, they are also portrayed in A Moon for Moe and Mo as basically, as simply two young boys living on opposite ends of the same street in Brooklyn who happen to meet and become friends).

And indeed, both Jane Breskin Zalben's featured narrative and Mehrdokht Armini's accompanying artwork, they do render A Moon for Moe and Moe into a truly loving and all encompassing heartfelt and cheering homage to not only cross-cultural friendship and understanding but also and very much importantly presenting the essential truth and reality that cultural, ethnic, religious differences are generally only skin deep so to speak and are therefore often really and truly unimportant and rather insignificant (which in A Moon for Moe and Mo is not only verbally but also equally aesthetically and in my opinion gloriously demonstrated and presented, as Mehrdokht Armani's pictures do show how similar the Feldman and the Hassan families are on a physical and visual level as poignantly and as delightfully as Jane Breskin-Zalben presents this truth with her narrative, with her printed words).


message 24: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
The Passover Parrot
This was one of the "notable" picture books. First published in 1983, it was reissued in 2018 with new illustrations for its 35th anniversary. The story is lightly humorous, as a Brooklyn family receives a pet parrot from a woman who is moving away. Young Lily takes over care of the parrot. As Pesach approaches, she practices the 4 questions in front of the parrot who also learns all of the songs. The parrot does cause a bit of a kerfuffle during the Passover meal. The multi-media illustrations depict a warm and loving family preparing for and participating in an important feast.


message 25: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
A Moon for Moe and Mo
I loved how this story first paralleled the lives of Moe and Mo, and then brought them together; and at the end showed them parallel again. It was a lovely story of friendship. The collage and multi-media illustrations did an excellent job of showing both boys and their differing worlds/cultures, plus their similarities. I also appreciated the explanatory notes, recipes, and author's and illustrator's notes at the end.


message 26: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art
The author waxes quite lyrical in this short biography; she mentions that she bases her writing style for this book on the rhythms of Chagall's own poetic biography. So, instead of reading the name change as something that is encouraged for every immigrant, I read it as just part of the waxing lyrical in this biography; and in my opinion, the author is implying that Chagall thinks his French name is elegant and light; not that the author necessarily thinks that is so. I loved Mary Grandpre's illustrations, and how many of the illustrations were done in the style of Chagall. The short biography did not really make the time frame of his life very clear, although the extensive note at the back did clarify that. Overall, I thought it was a good introduction for young children to this man's life and art.


message 27: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art
The author waxes quite lyrical in this short biography; she mentions that she bases her writing style for this book on the rhythms of Chagal..."


Yes, I like you consider the name change both poetic as to the text and basically as something that just applies to Chagall himself and not automatically to all immigrants.


message 28: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook

While Jacqueline Jules' Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook certainly does present itself as lyrically spiritual, uplifting and although I certainly have very much appreciated the moral reflections for the eight nights of the Hanukkah celebrations as to what they are and what they are supposed to represent (and have even started to at least somewhat enjoy Kristina Swarner's colourfully muted accompanying illustrations once I got used to the fact that most of her human figures do seem to have washed-out and almost identical facial features), personally I have also found Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook considerably more suitable and appropriate for individuals, for readers already for the most part strongly familiar with Hanukkah. In other words and in my opinion, Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook is thus more a Hanukkah guidebook for the already initiated, for Jewish families who might want to expand their celebrations or who might want to imbue Hanukkah with more reflection and spirituality than it is a general introduction for those of us who are not Jewish but are interested in learning the general tenets of the Jewish holidays.

And I would therefore not really all that much suggest Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook as a general and basic introduction to Hanukkah for the general public but as stated above as a guidebook full of suggestions for expanding one's knowledge and celebration of Hanukkah spiritually (with the added caveat that while Jacqueline Jules does indeed present a treasure trove of interesting supplemental Hanukkah information and details at the back of Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook such as games, songs, recipes and crafts, she also and frustratingly, annoyingly has not provided a bibliography of works cited and used, of suggestions for further study and reading, which in my opinion would greatly expand the teaching and learning value of Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook).


message 29: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
All Three Stooges

While I have found many of the issues on which Erica S. Perl focusses in her All Three Stooges difficult, painful but nevertheless very much important and necessary to consider and bring out into the open, and yes indeed even in novels clearly meant for Middle Grade readers (such as mental health challenges ending in suicide and that sometimes when grieving, people do have the tendency to board themselves up and shut out even their best friends) I still have to admit that I really have not all that much enjoyed All Three Stooges as a novel, as a story in and of itself.

For one, while the difficulties that Noah and Dash experience both generally and with each other after the unexpected (suicide) death of Dash's father Gil (who obviously was also very much a father figure to and for Noah, whose family consists of two mothers) feel and read realistically and are as such also understandable and relatable, I also do on both an emotional and intellectual level not really comprehend and accept the way that Erica S. Perl has portrayed in All Three Stooges the reaction of Noah's mothers to Gil's death and how they basically do not tell Noah the truth right away that Gil committed suicide, that they are really not at all up-front towards their son regarding this, since honestly, considering how close Gil and Noah were and how Noah saw Gil not only as Dash's father but also considered him as very much a father figure to and for himself, frankly and in my humble opinion, Noah really and truly absolutely deserves to have been told the truth by his mothers regarding Gil's death (and yes, this even if Dash and Gil's mother might not have wanted Noah to be told this).

And while I do indeed very much blame Noah for not only not immediately returning Dash's cell phone after finding it but also and more importantly for invading his friend's privacy by scrolling through his texts and messages (and which is how Noah actually discovers that Gil's death was a suicide), in my opinion, Noah's act of silliness and thoughtlessness is also very much an act of personal desperation on his part (as Noah obviously is scrolling through Dash's phone messages and texts in order to get clues as to why Dash has been avoiding him, why he suddenly no longer seems to be interested in even being friends). And to and for me, this whole sad scenario (culminating in Noah and Dash hardly even talking and actively avoiding each other and Noah almost having his Bar Mitzvah cancelled due to what happened with Dash's phone) could in my opinion likely have been avoided, had Noah's mothers told their son right off the bat so to speak that Gil has committed suicide and that Dash will need some time (and some time alone) to grieve and to come to terms with this, that he is shutting Noah out not because of personal animosity but because he is grieving and just cannot handle anything more at the moment, including spending time with his best friend Noah (as that most likely and too painfully would also be reminding Dash of the many times he, Noah and Gil used to hang out together, watching comedies, having a good time).

Furthermore, for two, and I guess for me personally also much more problematically (although please do note that this is simply my own personal opinion and I in no way would ever and in any manner consider All Three Stooges as an inappropriate novel that would or should be even remotely censored and/or restricted), I do have some issues with how prominently American actor and director Woody Allen appears in All Three Stooges, and how he and his films are totally idolised and often quoted by especially Noah.

For considering that Woody Allen has been repeatedly accused of sexually assaulting his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, I for one simply cannot really stomach reading about him in a positive and laudatory manner anymore, and indeed, how inherently glowingly Woody Allen appears and seems to be depicted by author Erica S. Perl, that really has in many ways rather totally ruined All Three Stooges for me and has definitely made me consider instead of a three star ranking (which was my original plan) only two stars at best (because I do indeed and personally tend to actively view Woody Allen as a bona fide pedophile and even though many of his films have certainly been brilliant and albeit that I know many persons till consider him a supremely talented comedian, on an emotional level, the accusations of sexual interference against his adopted daughter just make it too uncomfortable for me to read about Woody Allen as a positive force and entity in a Middle Grade novel, and actually in any work of fiction, period).


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah would be a pretty good book if it weren't attached to the famous series. I agree w/ Gundula that it's out of character for Mama to be so impatient with her little one... and at age four there certainly is something that Gertie could have done. But as a stand-alone story, well, lots of mothers do get stressed, especially five children in seven years, immigrants in the city, etc... I think this story is actually more realistic than Taylor's originals.

I like the illustrator's note about the different kinds of styles he considered, too. *Very* much worth reading. All the aftermatter is good, and if I were using this with children I would go to the website linked, for more.


message 31: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Apr 21, 2019 07:03PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
Sweep: the Story of a Girl and her Monster
This was a powerful and wonderful story, mostly about children who are chimney sweepers in 19th century England. And, while I loved the story, and gave it 5 stars, by the end of the book I was puzzled that it won the Sydney Taylor Award. Not that it didn't deserve a reward, because I do believe it did. However, only one character was clearly identified as Jewish, and she was a secondary character; a teacher who had lost her faith and left her family. The main character, Nan, a 12-year-old sweep, had no religion at all, but she did have a golem. When Nan was 6-years-old, her father left her (she later learns he left her because he was dying of a lung disease), but he also left her a small chunk of coal. When Nan is almost burned in a chimney, the chunk of coal comes to life and develops into a golem, one with a personality, not just a mindless creature. She names it Charlie, and Charlie does come to her rescue on a couple of occasions. The story is filled with interesting and well-developed characters, an intriguing plot, and excellent descriptions of London in the 1870s. And, without preaching, the author gets across the horrors of the way child sweeps were treated, and the horrors of child labor in general. The author also includes some very interesting historical facts in an author's note, as well as suggestions for more reading.


message 32: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Sweep: the Story of a Girl and her Monster
This was a powerful and wonderful story, mostly about children who are chimney sweepers in 19th century England. And, while I loved the story, and gave it..."


I have this on deck to read, but from the book description, I was also wondering why this story was awarded The Sidney Taylor Award as it sounds more like a 19th century working class and child labour Great Britain than a specifically Jewish story.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook seems to me, too, to what it says it is, a handbook. A handbook for the "we" named in the text, that is to say, people who are Jewish. I skimmed it, but I have no idea whether it has value for the intended audience or not.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
I very much enjoyed A Moon for Moe and Mo. Imo it successfully explores the universality of human friends, mothers, celebrations... and more specifically the amazing similarities of these two particular cultures, and yes, genetic histories as the storekeeper guesses that the two boys are related. A joyful book; I recommend it.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a perfectly fine condensed & inspirational biography, but imo it didn't have the special spark that makes me want to recommend it.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Write On, Irving Berlin! engaged me more deeply; I really felt as if I knew the songwriter. It's missing some details that the other book had, but adds some more in. It's not as strong as it should be, and I don't particularly recommend it, but if I were buying for a small-town library and had to choose one of these, I'd choose this one I think.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of these I could get from the Oklahoma City Metro library system. I have Sweep and Stooges left to read here at my sons' home while I visit, in addition to the above batch of picturebooks.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Um. Well. I did not read the blurb for All Three Stooges before I started to read it. Good thing I had a quiet afternoon because I did not do anything else this afternoon before finishing it. I advise you to make sure you're in a good place before picking it up, and that's all I can say without spoilers.

(view spoiler)

Second spoiler, deeper /inside the main one above: (view spoiler)


message 39: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Um. Well. I did not read the blurb for All Three Stooges before I started to read it. Good thing I had a quiet afternoon because I did not do anything else this afternoon before fin..."

Yes, the lack of support Noah gets infuriates me and I also just hated reading positive things about Woody Allen.


message 40: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Light the Menorah!: A Hanukkah Handbook seems to me, too, to what it says it is, a handbook. A handbook for the "we" named in the text, that is to say, people who are Jewish. I skim..."

I think it does have value for the intended audience but is a bit too in the know for people who are not Jewish and would like a more general and historic introduction.


message 41: by Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish, Newbery Club host (last edited Apr 23, 2019 08:23AM) (new)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Sweep: the Story of a Girl and her Monster
This was a powerful and wonderful story, mostly about children who are chimney sweepers in 19th century England. And, while I loved the story, and gave it..."


Actually, Toby is Jewish too, though ignorant of details of his heritage & traditions. And the themes related to golems and Jews may not take up many pages, they are important to the story as a whole. Iow, even though I'm less than 1/2 done, I respectfully disagree and believe the book is a good fit for this award.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
And now I'm done, and I read the notes at the end, too, and I definitely believe that this books is a good choice for any award. Especially if the reader has not read too many other books about sweeps & mudlarks... I have, so it wasn't a fresh read for me in that way. Otoh, I think it's the first time I've seen carefully-researched historical fiction blended so well with fantasy. And the character of the Sweep himself is a delight, and the writing is lucid with bits of absolutely loveliness.

I'm giving the book four stars and will look for more by the author.


message 43: by Kathryn, The Princess of Picture-Books (new)

Kathryn | 5939 comments Mod
Manybooks wrote: "I know that All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah won the 2019 Sydney Taylor Award, but personally, I have found the story itself a bit disappointing especially with regard to how author Em..."

I love the original series and don't think I will venture to try this one for that very reason. It sounds like a disappointment and not up to par with the originals.

The Irving Belin books look very interesting to me and I'll try to find them at the library.


message 44: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Apr 23, 2019 04:56PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2472 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Beverly wrote: "Sweep: the Story of a Girl and her Monster
This was a powerful and wonderful story, mostly about children who are chimney sweepers in 19th century England. And, while I loved the st..."


I forgot about Toby being Jewish, but he also did not practice his religion. When I started reading the book, I did expect to read about one or more characters who practiced the Jewish religion; who at least attended Shabbat services. That did not happen in this book. However, I still loved the book and I am glad it won this award.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
Well there's certainly plenty of Judaism in 12 Before 13. In a couple of places the book seems downright evangelistic. All of these people are either perfect or nearly so: kind, optimistic, aware, etc. Which actually makes for a refreshing read compared to so much realistic fiction for MG now that's all about issues like cancer, poverty, war etc.

It's a good book, but very hyper & emotional. I don't know but that I'm thankful I didn't have daughter if they're all about mood swings and competitions for BFF status and exclamation marks.... But of course they're not. This is basically a more dramatic version of the Alice stories by Naylor and it does focus on Ari and her girlfriends just for a few months around the start of seventh grade.

Here's a sample of the kinds of things Ari thinks about & processes, and the voice in which she expresses them:

"Everyone is Humpty Dumpty after they stay up all night. It's a fact."

I'm glad that I read this. I do feel like I know more about young teen girls and about Judaism. I don't feel the need to read others in the series.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
I think Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation is amazing. Very moving, effective. I read the original decades ago and don't much remember it, but nonetheless I feel confident that this adaptation is true to Anne as a person and to her legacy. I don't have the right words to discuss it. All I can find to say is that I highly recommend it and will consider other works by the creators.


message 47: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 1801 comments Cheryl wrote: "I think Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation is amazing. Very moving, effective. I read the original decades ago and don't much remember it, but nonetheless I feel confident t..."

I flipped through it on Amazon and I believe the graphic style adaptation really works here. It seems to do justice to Anne's thoughts and conveys her teenage feelings well. There are extensive notes enough to please teachers and academics from what I could see on the Amazon preview. I think Anne would be pleased with this version of her diary and how her fame has lasted. It's a terrible shame that she became famous for dying. She wanted to be famous for living but I think she'd be proud that people are still reading her diary after all these years.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 6441 comments Mod
(I've always thought that, in a way, Anne was famous for living. For those few years, she *lived* more intensely than many people *exist* for decades....)


message 49: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "(I've always thought that, in a way, Anne was famous for living. For those few years, she *lived* more intensely than many people *exist* for decades....)"

I would actually tend to agree with that.


message 50: by Manybooks (last edited Sep 05, 2019 12:05PM) (new)

Manybooks | 7663 comments Mod
The Sound of Freedom

Although I was really looking forward to reading Kathy Kacer's The Sound of Freedom when I first shelved it on my to-read list this past April (as it had won a 2019 Sydney Taylor Honour mention and from the book description, it also looked like it might be another pre-Holocaust type novel akin to Judith Kerr's brilliant When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit), after reading my Goodreads friend Hilary's negatively critical words regarding the many and supposedly obvious music-based errors presented as fact by the author and another similar in tone review by Aviana Joy claiming that quite a bit of the putative details and facts shown as the historical reality and truth regarding the formation of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra in The Sound of Freedom are also very much wrong or at least lacking, I certainly and quickly lost much of my potential reading enthusiasm. However, I still decided to sign out The Sound of Freedom from my local public library (since the topic did interest me, and well, because The Sound of Freedom had won an award, I definitely remained curious).

But yes, I was certainly now reading Kathy Acer's narrative mostly with a major grain of salt and with my eyes always and continuously open to and for errors. And indeed, when during my perusal of The Sound of Freedom I did my own supplemental (and really very easy, very fast and very simple) online research regarding both the music irregularities described by Hilary and the historical faux pas about the conception and development of the PSO that I found in Aviana Joy's review (and yes, all of these errors were clearly visible for everyone to see, and with that I mean, that all of the mistakes reported to be present in The Sound of Freedom by Hilary and Aviana Joy, they are most definitely bona fide faux pas and also very easily avoidable ones at that with just some very basic good research techniques and checking online resources), I definitely have trouble understanding why and how Kathy Acer could not have investigated the music aspect of her novel as well as the historical background a bit more thoroughly. And considering that The Sound of Freedom is historical fiction, I for one cannot just forgive the sloppy research and the many avoidable mistakes in Kathy Acer's narrative (and while I did find Anna and her family's story engaging enough, often heartbreaking, and indeed also important, the many annoying and indeed very real and bona fide authorial errors do make me only consider two stars at best for The Sound of Freedom (as sorry, but these kinds of gaffes should absolutely not happen with historical fiction and especially not with historical fiction based on actual reality and marketed and geared towards children).


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