Page 99 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

Basic HTML Version

PO SNER /F IFTY YEARS OF JEWISH CHILDREN’S BOOKS
91
1982 — 1992: GOLDEN AGE OF JEWISH CHILDREN’S
LITERATURE?
There have been so many books published in this decade that
they can be handled most efficiently by discussing each genre.
What is new at the turn of this decade is what was once con­
sidered dull by our early bibliographers — collections of tra­
ditional Jewish tales. There were many collections published
within a span of a year or two by several publishers. This most
recent trend was initiated by Howard Schwartz’s well-received
Elijah’s Violin and Other Jewish Fairy Tales
(Harper and Row,
1985). It was followed soon after by other adult collections of
Jewish folktales published mainly by Jason Aronson. In 1990,
many story collections for children were published. Jason
Aronson issued a
Child’s Book of Midrash
by Barbara Goldin Di­
amond, and
Eight Tales fo r Eight Nights: Stories for Chanukah
by
Peninnah Schram and Steven M. Rosman. JPS came out with
The Answered Prayer and Other Yemenite Folktales
by Sharlya Gold
and Mishael Maswari Caspi the same year. Bedrick Blackie pub­
lished Jose Patterson’s
Angels, Prophets, Rabbis and Kings from the
Stories of the Jewish People
(1991), and Knopf issued the only
original presentation of tales: Adele Geras’s
My Grandmother’s
Stories: A Collection ofJewish Folk Tales (1990),
marvelously illus­
trated by Jael Jordan.
The eighties have been a peak year for picture books, even
better than the previous decade. In addition to the better quality
of these books, there are other factors that explain the increase
in sales. In the sixties and seventies, it was the librarians at syn­
agogue and school libraries who guided the children into read­
ing both good general and Jewish books, but by the eighties,
those children, who remember their childhood favorites have
become parents. As parents, they are highly educated and want
to get their children “hooked on reading” from a young age.
The founders of Kar-Ben were on-target when they pioneered
the publishing of Jewish board baby/toddler books about Jewish
holidays.
Beginning with Marilyn Hirsh’s
Benny Goes into Business,
more
and more authors and illustrators have experimented with cre­
ating a new genre that falls somewhere in between the picture-
storybook and the child’s illustrated book. It has been used for
the handling of such serious themes as peace between Arabs