Signs you might want to buy one of my new books


(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

How to optimize your Goodreads “To-Read” list

A few weeks back, I posted about how we select the books we want to read now, next and never.

On a related theme, I just spent an hour culling unwanted books from my Goodreads “To-Read” list. 

Because what good is a “To-Read” list if you don’t really want to read the books on it?

After my very well-intentioned husband took the aforementioned list to the library and returned with many of the books it contained, I discovered few were readable in the land of Mrs. Rebecca Klempner. Three offended my (admittedly rather sensitive) sensibilities so much that I immediately took them out to our van and left them there to be returned to the library. Ugh.

How do such books get on my “To-Read” list in the first place? 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

Struggling to pick out books for your Jewish children or students?

So many Orthodox parents and teachers have asked me for help finding books for their kids and students that I’ve decided to help them out. Please see the newest page on my author site for a book list and more information about picking out the perfect book for your kosher kid. And don’t forget to list your favorite “kosher” books in the comments to the page.

Great link to a book review site for those of us who want a good clean book to read

I’ve just discovered this fabulous resource, the Library of Clean Reads, a blog by Laura Fabiani.

There are a few other similar sites out there, most of them by LDS women. However, this one has no references to Mormon or Christian beliefs and doesn’t review religious books. Definitely worth checking out.


About six months ago, my sister sent me the link to an interview with Eric Kimmel, the acclaimed children’s author. The popular blogger at Homeshuling chatted with Mr. Kimmel about his retelling of the Purim story, which came out early this past spring.

(Before I go any further, I want to make clear that I’m actually a big fan of Mr. Kimmel despite what follows. I assure you that many of his books are perfectly appropriate for Jewish families, and urge you to purchase them or borrow them from the library.)

One of the central themes of the interview is whether it’s okay to alter the details of a story from the Tanach (Hebrew Bible) or a folktale. Mr. Kimmel feels that “You cannot be absolutely tied to the text or you are going to tie yourself into knots.” 

Read more:

He continues later,

I’m writing modern midrash. Because midrash continues to the present day. We are constantly reinterpreting and reinventing these stories. They are not locked in stone. I want children to learn that the stories of the Torah are great stories – they stand with the best of them – Anderson and Grimm – and it all comes down to the story.


Recently, my family purchased the animated movie, Young Abraham. This film incorporates many elements of midrash, dropping certain details and streamlining or fictionalizing others. I was a little uncomfortable with the tampering with tradition, but the overall message is the same as in the original midrashim and completely coincides with frumkeit so I don’t mind my children viewing it.

This is not the case with Mr. Kimmel’s The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale. The author plays fast and loose with the details of the original text, which is–after all–a sacred work from the Tanach. For example, he “glosses over” the deaths of Haman and his family. However, one of the central points of Book of Esther is that Esther and Mordechai are making a tikkun (correction) for the lack of follow-through King Saul demonstrated when he didn’t kill King Agag of the Amalekites despite HaShem’s instructions to do so. Additionally, it’s very important to a true understanding of the Book of Esther that Achashveirosh is a drunken slob and that Esther doesn’t really want to be married to him. Mr. Kimmel changes that detail, too.

These are changes to essential details, and I wouldn’t want to read this book to my children.

Similarly, in Even Higher, a retelling of the famous I.L. Peretz story about the Rabbi of Nemerov, Mr. Kimmel wanted to give a little context to the story. However, the information he interjects to explain the battles between the misnagdim and the chassidim is incorrect. His mishandling of the chassidus vs. misnaged battles of the 18th and 19th centuries actually makes the subject more murky, not less (and is probably not age-appropriate anyway).

In the same story, Mr. Kimmel shows the Rebbe livening up an old lady by dancing with her. It is highly unlikely a Chassidishe rebbe would dance with a woman, and it sends a message that you can just ditch halachah (in this case, the rules against negiah) if your intentions are okay.

I think that perhaps there is a little “wiggleroom” when you teach children (and writing a picture book is essentially teaching)–but you have to respect the original message and not misrepresent authentic Judaism in the retelling. For this reason, my husband and I generally screen even Jewish books before they enter our home.

What’s your opinion?