Page 92 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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82
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
into the home of a lower-middle-class Jewish family caught up
in the process of acculturation. T he family celebrates each
festival and holiday with joy. The Sabbath is scrupulously ob­
served and family relationships are warm and loving. Yet this
is not a ghetto family. Non-Jews are par t of its intimate circle
and American patriotic holidays are celebrated with enthusiasm.
The characterizations are excellent. A strong sense of place
exists because of the m inute descriptions of furniture, food,
clothing and the community.
A l l of a K in d F am ily
teaches
Jewish values and concepts in an integrated, natura l manner
and has many uses in the curriculum. I t can be read as well
for pure pleasure.
Freehof’s
Stories of K in g D a v id
was an attempt to simplify
and humanize legends of the Bible and to bring them down to
a more intimate level, one with which children could identify.
The tales contain much dialogue and can easily be converted
into dramatic form. Legends, however, must retain the dignity,
flavor and rhythm of the original. They may be simplified, bu t
not distorted and should never talk down to the young reader.
Freehofs conversation attempts to keep the biblical flavor, bu t
is unnaturally stilted. The central characters of legends and
hero tales are not average people. To try and humanize them too
much is to detract from the flavor. The stories are very useful
in familiarizing young children with the Bible, as an aid in
teaching the history of the period and as a source for oral story­
telling. Children do read them, bu t remain unexcited.
Freehof’s
Star L ig h t S tories
endeavored to convey Jewish
concepts and values through individual tales. They are a teach­
ing vehicle only and the children thumb through them bu t
seldom ask to borrow them. The ir use is negligible because
they are not read. Present on the list the year tha t Freehof was
given the award was also a novel: Kubie’s
Joe l: A N o v e l of
Y oung Am er ica .
From a purely literary po in t of view, it seems
to me to be the better choice. W ith regard to Jewish content,
it offers far less than Freehof’s titles. Yet it serves a useful purpose
in the school or at home, for it encourages Jewish Americans
to feel that they too had a stake in their country. I t deftly in ­
corporates subtle Jewish concepts and is read without any
cajoling on the part of the librarian.
Although textbooks are supposed to be ineligible by the Jewish