Jewish Journal


March 21, 2002

Tolerance for Tots


"What Would You Do?" is not only the title of a tolerance-thumping children's book distributed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), but it's the question central to each of the book's three short stories. It's a device that the book's creators say is purposeful.

"We wanted to make this book interactive so that kids would have to ask themselves what they would do if they were in these situations," said children's book author Karen Winnick ("Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers"), who guided the book's 14 teen authors, participants in the ADL's 1998-2000 Dream Dialogue program.

"What Would You Do?" celebrated its official release with a March 4 launch at a community magnet school in Carthay Circle, where Gov. Gray Davis read the book to elementary students. The 10,000-print run of "What Would You Do?" received a $25,000 grant from corporate sponsor Verizon Wireless.

The book's genesis began in 1999. At first, the Dream Dialogue teens wrote metaphorical tales involving animals.

"She encouraged them to write true stories," Bette Weinberg, ADL's director of youth programs, said of Winnick. "All these stories became based on somebody's personal experience."

The stories were assigned to artists Katherine Altieri, Joanna Marcuse and Amarpal Khanna. Khanna, 28, was approached by Altieri while both were working at the DreamWorks animation division. Khanna jumped at the chance to do the pencil layouts for Altieri, a well-regarded animation field pro.

"She's one of the best painters in the industry, and this was a chance for me to collaborate with someone of her stature," Khanna said.

Altieri got involved after she was approached by the ADL's Tzivia Schwartz Getzug, now working in the communications department at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

"It's such a great idea and a really extraordinary way to open up discussion," said Altieri, 43, who worked as an art director on "Prince of Egypt."

The pair illustrated the first and last story, employing different styles -- representational and cartoony. Beyond working with Altieri, Khanna believes that such positive projects are vital to a child's experience.

"The workshops bridge the gap between students from different parts of the city and spark the recognition that students can have a voice," said Khanna, formerly the initiator and director of a visual arts program at View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter School in South Los Angeles.

For information on "What Would You Do?" contact Bette Weinberg at (310) 446-8000, ext. 231.

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