Page 140 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

Basic HTML Version

Posner
132
inative. The best 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 Frishcher, the West Coast specialist
on Jewish children’s literature, expressed the need for a new chil­
dren’s biography series for younger children, and so was conceived
the “Jewish Biography Series,” published by Lodestar/Dutton un­
der the stewardship of Virginia Buckley. One biography begat an­
other 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, not the many biographies of fa­
mous rabbis and sages published by the Jewish Orthodox publish­
ers such 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, commerce, 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
OPS, 1991) is the best.
Histories written during the decade featured solid research, flu­
id writing, and attractive formats, especially anything written by
Milton Meltzer. They range from one in picture-storybook for­
mat—Eva Deutch Costabel’s
TheJews ofNewAmsterdam
(Athene-
um, 1988) for ages six to ten—to Norman Finkelstein’s
The Other
1492
(Scribner’s, 1989) and his
Captain ofInnocence
(Putnam, 1991)
for ages nine up. UAHC published histories in an interactive for­
mat that allows the reader to make choices and proceed with the
story on that basis. The first one,
The Cardinal's Snuffbox
by Ken­
neth Roseman (1982), is set during the Spanish Inquisition. In
1987, Viking published
The Young Reader's Encyclopedia ofJewish
History
by liana Shamir and Shlomo Shavit. Notable histories of