Page 101 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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POSNER / FIFTY YEARS OF JEWISH CHILDREN’S BOOKS
93
recent toddler Bible story is another one about Noah — Harry
Aratan’s
Two by Two
(Kar-Ben, 1991).
Biography made big strides in the fifties with the JPS/Farrar
Covenant series, which inspired other publishers to do biogra­
phies. At the Jewish Book Council’s Conference on Jewish Chil­
dren ’s Literature in 1982, Rita Frischer, the West Coast specialist
on Jewish children’s literature, expressed the need for a new
children’s biography series for younger children, and so was
conceived the “Jewish Biography Series,” published by
Lodestar/Dutton under the stewardship of Virginia Buckley.
One biography begat another and more publishers followed,
but only David Adler’s
Our Golda
(Viking, 1984) was suitable
for children from ages seven to eleven. The total number of
biographies published in the past 21 years, including volumes
of collected biography, but not counting personal narratives and
diaries, nor the many biographies of famous rabbis and sages
published by Jewish Orthodox publishers as Feldheim and
Mesorah, equals 85 (32 were published after the conference).
Most of the subjects were people associated with politics and
wars in Israel, or the fields of art, music, drama, literature, com­
merce, politics, science, and American history. There were many
books about Golda Meir, at least two each about Hannah
Senesch and Sarah Aaronsohn, and several about Levi Strauss
and Marc Chagall, of which Natalie Bober’s
Marc Chagall
(JPS,
1991) is the best.
Histories written during the decade featured solid research,
fluid writing, and attractive formats, especially anything written
by Milton Meltzer. They range from one in picture-storybook
format — Eva Deutch Costabel’s
TheJews of New Amsterdam
(Ath-
eneum, 1988) for ages six to ten — to Norman Finkelstein’s
The Other 1492
(Scribner’s, 1989) and his
Captain of Innocence
(Putnam, 1991) for ages nine up. UAHC published histories
in an interactive format that allows the reader to make choices
and proceed with the story on that basis. The first one,
The
Cardinal’s Snuffbox
by Kenneth Roseman (1982), is set during
the Spanish Inquisition. In 1987, Viking published
The Young
Readers’ Encyclopedia of Jewish History
by liana Shamir and
Shlomo Shavit. Notable histories of the Holocaust published in
the eighties are:
Nightmare in History
by Miriam Chaikin (Clarion,
1987) for ages 10 up;
Smoke and Ashes
by Barbara Rogasky (Hol­
iday, 1988) for ages 9 up;
We Remember the Holocaust
by David