Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

Basic HTML Version

POSNER / JEWISH JUVENILE BOOK AWARDS
85
begins with the subject’s early manhood. Because of Alexander’s
sensitive interpolation of Jewish history into the events of
Bondi’s struggles against the tyranny of the Austrian Emperor,
the reader can easily appreciate his future concern with the
institution of slavery in the country which becomes his home,
the United States. T he characterizations are excellent. We see
Bondi’s m ind at work. From his student idealism he reverts to
an easy life in America of adventure on the river, un til he
himself notices the decline in his morality. This book is useful
on many levels: for adventure, for history, and for Jewish values.
There were no titles published in 1958 tha t compared to the
Bondi book, bu t present on the 1957-58 list was Sally Watson’s
T o B u i ld a L and .
Did it appear too late to be considered for
the 1957 Isaac Siegel Award? I t deserved such consideration,
as it portrayed all the color, adventure and desperate excitement
present in the heroic days of Israel’s liberation. Youngsters identi­
fy strongly with the book’s heroes, and the characters were
well-rounded, many faceted and entirely believable.
A D D IT IO N A L B IO G R A PH IE S
In terrup ting the chronological order in which we have been
evaluating the winners, it might be well to compare the three
other award-winning biographies to Alexander’s
A ugu s t B ond i .
In contrast to Alexander’s compelling treatment of August Bondi
is the 1969 winner,
M a r tin B uber: W isdom in Ou r T im e
by
Charlie May Simon. Granted that Simon did not have the same
adventurous material to work with, still the Buber biography
never came alive for this reader. Carefully and soberly written,
it was an academic telling of Buber’s development as a philoso­
pher.
K eys to a M ag ic D oo r : Isaac’L e ib P ere tz
by Sylvia Rothchild
(1959) demonstrates that a biography about a person whose life
is not filled with the adventure of an August Bondi, can still be
exciting reading. Her biography of the writer Peretz sings. On
the basis of his experience she painted a portra it rich in Jewish
concepts and moral development. T he last biography to be
awarded the prize (in 1976) was undoubtedly chosen because
of its suitability for the Bicentennial. I t is Shirley Milgrim’s
H a ym Sa lom on: L ib e r ty ’s Son.
Although it is a physically hand­
some book, excellently designed and well-illustrated, it remains