Page 135 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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that of the Orthodox presses. Toward the end of the seventies,
publishers of materials for the Orthodox Jewish market such as
Hebrew Publishing Company, Feldheim, Merkos L ’Inyonei Chi-
nuch, Judaica Press, and Art Scroll—who previously had main­
tained a very low children’s book publishing profile or none at
all—began to get into the children’s book field. Hebrew Publish­
ing and Feldheim Publishing hired their first children’s book edi­
tors—Deborah Brodie and Yaffa Ganz, respectively. In 1979,
Judaica Press published the first of its
Devorah Doresh
mystery
books (by Carol Hubner) which was to start a whole new genre of
children’s mystery fiction that used Talmudic reasoning to solve
crimes. By 1979, 51 books were listed in “Jewish Juveniles.”
As the line between the product produced by trade and Jewish
publishers became less distinct, Jewish authors of general chil­
dren’s literature began to devote themselves to the writing of
books with Jewish themes. Even non-Jewish authors began to write
books with Jewish characters, mostly on themes of anti-Semitism,
brotherhood, the Holocaust or Israel. When Jewish authors wrote
Jewish children’s book for trade and Jewish publishers, they fre-
quendy drew upon the immigration experiences of grandparents
and great-grandparents, as did Kathryn Lasky in
TheNightJourney
(Warne, 1981); or they wrote about a central character, usually a
girl, becoming more involved in her Jewish identity as in Johanna
Hurwitz’s
Once I Was a Plum Tree
(Morrow, 1980).
Jewish authors were also beginning to write good fiction with
universal themes and plots that were not specifically Jewish, yet the
families, their attitudes, customs, and concerns were Jewish—as in
Miriam Chaikin’s
I Should Worry
,
I Should Care
(Harper, 1979),
and Barbara Girion’s
A Tangle ofRoots
(Scribner’s 1979).
P ICTURE - STORYBOOKS
The publishing of beautiful full-color picture-storybooks that
had begun in the sixties, continued into the seventies. Not only did
Marilyn Hirsh produce another picture-storybook each year, but
her
Ben GoesInto Business
(Holiday, 1973) pioneered the use of pic­
127
Fifty Years ofJewish Children's Books