Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

This Sacred Land – Eretz Yisrael/Israel

For the past few months I have been writing book review articles for Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Family Connection Newsletter. You can read them at JewishBoston.com.  In April, I was asked to write about Israel books for young children and their families. I received such positive response to the article, that I am expanding it for my blog this month. After all, it is June and no better time to think about taking a trip to Eretz (land) Yisrael (Israel)/The Land of Israel.

First Rain. By Charlotte Herman. Illustrated by Kathryn Mitter. Albert Whitman & Company, © 2010.   Abby and her parents are making Aliyah/moving to Israel. They are all so excited, but sad to be leaving Grandma behind in America. Abby and her Grandma send many letters and emails back and forth about all that Abby is learning. (Ages 4-8)

Chicken Man. Written and illustrated by Michelle Edwards. NewSouth Books, © 2009. Rody lives on a kibbutz in Israel. After trying many jobs, it is clear that the chicken house is the best place for him to work. (ages 5-9)

Snow in Jerusalem. By Deborah DaCosta. Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu. Albert Whitman & Company, © 2001.  Avi lives in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, Hamudi lives in the Muslim Quarter. Unknown to them, they are both taking care of the same white cat. When they find out, a big surprise is waiting for them. (Ages 5-9)

The Man Who Flies with Birds. By Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem. Kar-Ben Publishing, © 2009. An Israeli bird lover, scientist and aeronautics specialist, combines his passions to save lives, protect the environment and bring peace to Israel. (Ages 7-11)

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp. By Trish Marx. Illustrated by Cindy Karp. Lee & Low Books, © 2010. In an attempt to foster peace and understanding between Palestinian-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli children, Menashe Summer Peace Camp was created. This is how Alya, an Israeli Palestinian girl and Yuval, an Israeli Jewish boy, experienced their summer at Peace Camp. (Ages 8-12)

Samir & Yonatan. By Daniella Carmi. Translated by Yael Lotan. Scholastic, © 2000. Samir, a young Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip, finds himself in an Israeli hospital for knee surgery following a bicycle accident. He is in a ward filled with Jewish children. He is befriended by Yonatan, who is in the hospital for hand surgery. Together, they learn from and about each other what it might take to build a better world. (Ages 10-14)

Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak. By Deborah Ellis. Groundwood Books, © 2004. Interviews with children living in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank about their experiences, hopes and dreams as children living in a war-torn country. (Ages 11-14

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. By Ibtisam Barakat. Farrar, Straus Giroux, © 2007. A child’s viewpoint of growing up on the West Bank during the 1967 Six Day War. (Ages 11-15)

Freefall. By Anna Levine. Greenwillow, © 2008. Aggie is going into the Israeli army, as all Israeli citizens must do at the age of eighteen. However, instead of choosing a desk job, she decides to try out for an elite combat unit, even though she will have to gain weight and go through a series of harsh training camps to do it. (Ages 13-16)

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea. By Valerie Zenatti. Translated by Adriana Hunter. Bloomsbury, © 2005. Winner of the Syndey Taylor Award. Tal Levine wants to correspond with a Palestinian, so she asks her soldier brother to throw a bottle containing a letter with her email address into the Gaza Sea. Surprisingly, she gets a response from “Gazaman.” Their exchanges provide a remarkable insight into this difficult region. (Ages 14-18)

Reading these books should provide you and your family with a solid overview of the modern Jewish experience. However, as I did last month and will from now on, I have prepared a list of discussion questions and activities that parents and/or teachers can use when reading these books together with children to reinforce your understanding of Eretz Yisrael/The Land of Israel and learn together about the country that is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. If you would be interested in using this material, please see the Family Reading Program Section of my website for June/Sivan. Wishing you dreams of vacations far away, perhaps on the shores of the Mediterranean in Tel Aviv!

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection, my local public library or the publisher as review copies.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

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I appreciate your support.

Book Review | Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp
by Trish Marx

Score: 4

Photographs by Cindy Karp © 2010, Lee and LowBooks. I will admit, when I received this book from the publisher, I was skeptical. This was coming from a secular publishing house, known for its multicultural books. While they had published some excellent Jewish books, were they going to take a “side” with this one? Having [...]

Read the rest of this review »

What About the Rest? Part II: Jewish Books for Older Readers

Once again, after choosing my three best Jewish children’s books for 2010: The Rooster Prince of Breslov, Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword and Life, After, guilt over the excellent books I left behind set in. Is there something called “reviewer’s remorse”? Moving on…I decided to go back and look at the books I remember and will recommend and from those created a “pretty close to best” list.  I have written about my choices for Jewish Books for Younger Readers. Today:

Jewish Books for Older Readers (Middle Grades)

It appears, at the moment, that YA (Young Adult) books are taking over the publishing world. What is the difference between Middle Grade and YA books? In a word…sex. Once a book moves past an innocent peck on the cheek or lips and into some heavy petting and beyond, it has crossed into the world of YA. Of course, there is more to it than that, depth of subject matter, story lines, adult language, etc.  all make a difference, but really when push comes to shove the sexuality of the characters is what determines the reading level.

As a result, while there were a number of books to read in this category (Older Readers – Middle Grade), there were not as many as in years past.  Of the books I read, none spun me around like Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. Many were good, a few were great, but only one book even came close to Mirka in being excellent and timely.

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp by Trish Marx, photographs by Cindy Karp. ©2010, Lee and Low Books. Ages 10-15. It is wonderful to have a book that shows efforts being made toward peaceful reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians. Sharing Our Homeland is especially good, because it shows the work being done with children that hopefully will ensure a future of peace between Israel and Palestine.  While there are a few minor issues that may be argued when reading the book, overall the text handles “hot button” matters with a balance and directness rarely seen in books on this subject. Although published in a picture book format, the text is most appropriate for older readers, the photographs simply adding a “scrapbook quality” to what is described and discussed.

That is my pick for “pretty close to best” 2010 Jewish Book for Older Readers (Middle Grades). Tomorrow, the final chapter in this series What About the Rest? Part III: “pretty close to best” Books for Teen Readers (High School). Now, that was a tough group.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
The book used in this review was provided by the publisher.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

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