Signs you might want to buy one of my new books

BOTH MY NEW BOOKS ARE UP AND RUNNING ON AMAZON! WAHOO!

(Do I sound excited?)

Mazal’s Luck Runs Out is for ages 8-11.

My life is being taken over by marketing (What? Did you say there’s a Jewish holiday coming? More than one? You mean I have to cook, too? ARGH!). Also, I’m working on no budget here, but at least people can actually buy both Mazal’s Luck Runs Out and Sliding Doors and other stories online now.

With no further ado… Continue reading

Writing for Children: not for those who want glory, fame, or big bucks

Last week’s Hamodia/Inyan Magazine had an article by one of my favorite columnists, Rabbi Fishel Schachter entitled “Guided by Tale Winds.” While today Rabbi Schachter is well-known in the Torah world for essays and presentations for adults about the weekly Torah portion, parenting, and other subjects, he first gained popularity as a rebbi and storyteller to students in Jewish day schools.

Rabbi Schachter explains in the article that one of the adults in his audience told him many years ago that he had to choose between teaching grown-ups or kids — and he indicated that the natural choice for a man of Rabbi Schachter’s talent and intelligence was to teach adults.

Turning to his own rebbi for guidance, Rabbi Schachter asked if teaching kids was really beneath him? Were all the silly voices and so on undermining his stature?

Continue reading

4 Questions for author Tamar Ansh about her new Passover cookbook

I recently conversed via email with the enormously popular author, Tamar Ansh, about her new cookbook. Let My Children Cook! is her first cookbook for kids, and it tackles a particularly pertinent area of Kosher cuisine for this time of year: Passover.

ansh book cover

Tamar Ansh’s latest cookbook, out in time for Passover!

4 Questions:

Rebecca:

What made you want to write a cookbook for children this time? And why specifically one for Passover?

Tamar:

For this book, Let My Children Cook!, Hashem sent me the inspiration from a totally unexpected angle. Continue reading

My thoughts on Tablet’s article “Do Jewish Children’s Books Have a Problem with Gender?”

Emily Sigalow, in Tablet this week, published an article entitled “Do Jewish Children’s Books Have a Problem with Gender?”

While she does make one point I agree with, that awards committee’s tend to favor Jewish picture books with male lead characters and that the females tend to be engaged in traditional roles, she seems to learn from that that Jewish children’s books as a whole have a problem.

I have to disagree with the overall picture Sigalow paints, though.

You can see my comments on the article if you visit Tablet (scroll to the bottom of the page), but I’d like to make a few more thoughts.

Jewish children’s books do have problems. Actually, many secular books have the same problems. Continue reading

Can teenagers really save the world? Musings on middle grade and YA lit

I’m completely behind both writing and housework this week due to a bout of strep throat (thankfully, on the mend now due to penicillin).  This was the second time I’ve been laid up for several days since Sukkos, so it was pretty much a drag, and I really need to try to wrap up at least one story this week. However, I just feel the need to share this with my readers.

airborn by oppel

Can three teens really save their airship from pirates? Not sure I buy it.

While lying in bed trying very hard not to swallow (it just hurt too much), I read a slew of middle grade and YA novels. Now, I know that tween and teen novels tend to share certain characteristics, and that many of these meet the psychological needs of tweens and teens. But as a once-but-no-longer teen, a particular trait rubbed me the wrong way. Continue reading

The Post in Which I Confess Again My Love of Sharpies & Probably Ruffle Some Feathers

Today is Hoshana Rabba, the last day of Sukkot, the Jewish Festival of Booths. In keeping with the more lenient final days of the holiday, my family has been trekking all over Southern California on outings. Today, I’m cooking, so between the challah baking and the vegetable roasting, I’d like to share a few thoughts with my readers.

A Writer’s Quandry

el pueblo de los angeles

The Avila Adobe, the oldest building at the Pueblo.

Yesterday, we visited El Pueblo de los Angeles, the original non-Indian settlement here in L.A. Last year, the Pueblo welcomed a new addition to its site on Olvera Street — an interpretive center for the América Tropical mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros that appears near the roof of what’s known as “the Italian Building.”

When the mural was unveiled in 1932, it immediately fell victim to controversy because of its anti-imperialist sensibilities. The most “offensive” images on the right half of the mural were quite literally whitewashed not long after it’s first exhibition, with the remainder of the mural being painted over four years later.

I was aghast as I listened to and read the details of the story. A white socialite pushed to remove an artist’s genuine expression of the Latino experience because it offended her political and social sensibilities.

Now, here’s the seemingly ironic part of the situation. I have a web page devoted to a “kosher reading list” and elsewhere have confessed to censoring my kids’ reading materials. My husband and I have effectively banned TV, Disney movies & Romeo and Juliet from our home because we don’t like their effects on children (see my comment in this link to the excellent post by Pop Chassid).

Yes, I am a self-described censor. Continue reading