December 7, 2006
Books: Wrap up new worlds for your young readers
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Another book featuring a doll, "The Doll With the Yellow Star" by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root (Henry Holt), is a beautifully told story of a 9-year-old girl who goes on her own from Paris to stay with some American relatives during World War II. She sets off with her much-loved doll in hand and always in her heart. She and her family suffer many losses, but those who survive struggle and learn to live on after the war. This is a story of war and loss, and also of love and family.
The book was inspired by a story told by a Holocaust survivor of having her doll snatched by an SS officer, and how she never stopped thinking about that doll. As an adult, she made a doll to resemble that one, but felt compelled to sew a yellow star on the doll's clothing, and then made others like that. The author of several children's books and also a doll collector, McDonough says that she wrote the kind of book she knew that she would have responded to as a child.
"A Pickpocket's Tale" by Karen Schwabach (Random House), set in the 1700s in London and then New York City, is an appealing first novel. Molly is a 10-year old Jewish orphan, a skilled pickpocket who gets caught in London and is sent to the United States where she becomes an indentured servant to a Jewish family. The family wants to teach Molly about Jewish culture, traditions and the rituals of home life -- she's not used to washing dishes at all, let alone separating meat and dairy -- but the young girl is mainly interested in getting back to the home she knows, the streets of London. Schwabach tells her tale with attentiveness to true details of colonial Jewish life.
"Lilith's Ark: Teenage Tales of Biblical Women" by Deborah Bodin Cohen (Jewish Publication Society) features stories about 10 women from Genesis, as the author imagines them as teens. Cohen's retellings are based on text, biblical commentaries and historical research. The book is great for girls to read on their own or in groups, and a study guide is included. The author is a rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Sandee Brawarsky is book critic for The Jewish Week
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