Page 158 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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AMER ICAN J EW I SH J UV E N I L E BOOKS
1960-1961
B
y
D
orothy
K . K
r ipk e
T
HIS year’s bumper crop of American juveniles of Jewish
interest provides a feast for the child with a taste for read­
ing. There is enough variety of subject to suit every palate, and
enough variety in level to provide something for every age.
The menu, too, shows some significant variations. The most
popular subjects are still the Bible, the holidays, Israel, and
biographies. The latter introduce us to new, fascinating figures,
but in the first three categories there are also a number of
volumes with a new approach.
Among the books on the Bible, there is one that succeeds in
the difficult feat of introducing the very young child to the
prophets and the prophetic tradition. Another book groups the
Psalms, introduces and relates them to the child’s world. A third
provides a simple retelling of the stories but adds a valuable
side-dish of art masterpieces. A fourth offers a careful abridgment
of the Bible text.
A few books on the holidays also show a new approach. There
are several books of imaginative stories which are not obviously
and completely didactic. Among the didactic holiday books,
there are a few with new forms and format. But one wishes that
fiction in this area would have more of the quality of fiction
and that fact would remain fact. When the “twain meet” in
Sarah’s and Sam’s celebration of the holidays, the story line
usually becomes so weak and contrived and stereotyped as to
have small appeal.
In the group on Israel there is a wide range, from a book that
conveys much information in concise and highly readable form
to a story which portrays the spirit, from a picture of Ben Gurion
to one of the bedouin. The very fact that the latter has been
placed between the covers of a book is evidence of something new
in the field.
In addition, the crop offers a few fine historical novels, two
books on the Hitler holocaust, hasidic and other tales, several
“Brotherhood” books, and two teen-age books on theology.
The flavor of the fare, too, inevitably shows a wide range from
the delicious to the barely palatable. But authors, artists, and
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