THE BOOK OF LIFE - Holiday Highlights, Best Passover Books
1:41PM Mar 30, 2022
[COLD OPEN] Anyway, so back to the Holiday Highlights because I can clearly get off that track very easily... What we wanted was this committee of these amazing librarians evaluating and telling us what the really outstanding holiday books were.
[MUSIC, INTRO] This is The Book of Life, a show about Jewish kidlit, mostly. I'm Heidi Rabinowitz. Regular listeners will remember my friend Susan Kusel, a librarian, bookseller and author with whom I do a lot of projects to promote Jewish children's literature. Today, she joins me to talk about Holiday Highlights. This is a committee we set up through the Association of Jewish Libraries to identify the best new Jewish holiday books for kids. We'll tell you all about Holiday Highlights and about the brand new Passover picture books on the latest list, and many thanks to Amy Lillien-Harper, Robbin Friedman and Sylvie Shaffer, for lending their expertise to the Holiday Highlights committee.
Susan, welcome back for the gajillionth time.
I thought we were at like a gajillion and three..
We might be, I'm losing track, but you are certainly my most frequent podcast guest.
Hurray! What do I win?
You win this sparkly tiara that I sent you when you won the Sydney Taylor Book Award.
You know, Heidi,I love that so much that I sent you a sparkly tiara.
And if anyone is wondering what these beautiful tiaras look like, Heidi is going to include it in the show notes.
So that everyone can see just how beautiful these tiaras are.
And we dressed for the occasion. So today, we are here to talk about one of our many, many, many, many projects. And this time, we're going to talk about Holiday Highlights. So first, I want you to explain because it was really your idea and then I jumped on the bandwagon.
All of our projects, Heidi.
Most of our projects, you have an idea and then I say "okay, how can we make that happen?" So tell us about Holiday Highlights? What is the idea? And why did we decide to do this?
So I always see Jewish books get displayed in bookstores and libraries, particularly around Hanukkah around Passover, because there are also Christmas books out and Easter books out. So the Hanukkah and Passover books are the counterpoint books. But what I have found is that the books that are displayed, they're not the current books, they are not the contemporary books. They're not necessarily the best Jewish books available. This kind of coalesced, I was on a trip right around Passover. And I went into a store in a train station, which I understand does not have the best and latest and greatest titles. But I looked at the Easter books, and they were all contemporary, they were all published this year. They were all good titles, and the Passover books... the most current one was 20 years old. And I was just fed up. Like, we've got to do better than this. So I talked to Heidi about this, because this is how everything starts. I say "Heidi, you know, I'm really annoyed about this." And Heidi says "let's fix it - today. Why don't we do this and that and this". And by the time I'm done complaining, Heidi's already formed a committee.
So it's interesting that you said that ... it makes sense that libraries have older books, because libraries hold on to their books over the years unless it starts to fall apart or becomes dated in some way, a book will stay on the shelves. In a bookstore, it would make sense that they would be getting the newer books because the older books are going out of print. My issue with bookstores would be that they might be promoting the more commercial titles, the ones that have a tie in to a TV show, something with a sparkly cover, or there's a Hanukkah coloring book. And so I think that that's another reason that we wanted to find another way to draw attention to the high quality literature about the holidays.
It can be challenging if you're not an expert on Hanukkah, if you're not an expert on Passover, or what about Tu B'Shevat? What about Shavuot? What about Purim? Just because it's a book on Purim, how do we know if it's a good book on Purim? Purim is actually a very tricky holiday and the books are very challenging. So our goal here, Heidi, as you know, what we talked about was to find a group of experts through the Association of Jewish Libraries. And we found this really terrific committee that I am so proud of, that are experts in Jewish books, all of them have been on committees like the Newbery that the Caldecott the Geisel are just true, true experts, excellent librarians. Agreed to be on this committee, I was so thankful, to look at and analyze, specifically the holiday books. On the one hand, we say, oh, there's so many holiday books and can't we go beyond the holidays? On the other hand, a lot of people get exposure through the holidays to Jewish books. And we want to make sure that if you do read a Hanukkah book, you're reading a good one. If you do read a Passover book, you're reading one that really does explain the story of Passover. For example, I wrote a Passover book. And the number of kids who have told me they've never ever heard anything about Passover, and are finding it out through my book is amazing. So a holiday book can be a real bridge.
You wrote a Passover book??? How come you never mentioned it?!?
You should have paid attention, Heidi!
Didn't it win some award or something?
That was why I got the tiara in the first place.
That was the main joy of winning the Sydney Taylor Book Award. I got a tiara.
Well, I just have to say -- about the tiara. So actually, we need to, we need to give credit where it's due.
Yes, we do.
So, back in I think like 2006. The Sydney Taylor Book Award for the middle grade went to Confessions of a Closet Catholic by Sarah Darer Littman. And when she came to our conference to receive her award, her friends had bought her a sparkly tiara to wear because she won this award. And we thought that was just the most fabulous thing ever, that she had this tiara. So when you won the award many years later, you know, we're all Facebook friends, and she said something on Facebook about oh, now you need a tiara. And so that's why our other friend Rebecca, another librarian friend and I put our heads together and figured out how to order you a tiara on Etsy. And then you went crazy and started ordering tiaras for everyone you know.
Well, no, just for the three of us. Heidi, Rebecca Levitan, and I are all former Sydney Taylor Book Award chairs, and so having gone through that experience, I think we all deserved tiaras. But anyway, so back to the Holiday Highlights, because I can clearly get off that track very easily... what we wanted was this committee of these amazing librarians evaluating and telling us what the really outstanding holiday books were. And then we would take that list, give it to newspapers and magazines, because that's another place where we see how the articles of like, here's a Hanukkah Roundup, but the books are really old, or the books are really meh. So give it to people who write articles, give it to bookstores, we want to give it to libraries, we wanted to give it to parents, we wanted to give it to religious schools, public schools, we wanted to give it to anyone who asked "Where do I find a quality Jewish book for the holidays?" that has been vetted by a reputable source.
Right. And I want to point out the difference between this and the Sydney Taylor Book Award, right, because, of course, the Association of Jewish Libraries already has a book award. And some of these holiday books do get recognized by that book award because they're the quality books. But one of the differences is that the Sydney Taylor Book Award is announced every January, so you have to wait for the whole year and find out in January, what books have won. The Holiday Highlights lists come out during the publishing season, when those books are becoming available. So we have it twice a year, a spring list and a fall list. And so those are brand new books on that list that we are telling you go and get them while they're hot.
So we put fall books, which is kind of the High Holidays and Sukkot and Simchat Torah and...
And Hanukkah, of course.
And Hanukkah of course, and all of that on fall. Then in the spring, we put Passover and Purim and Tu B'Shevat and Shavuot. What we also did that was interesting is we put Shabbat onto both lists depending on when it comes out. So you'll see Shabbat on both lists because Shabbat is the holiday we celebrate every week.
Right. Then there's another difference in that when you're only looking at the holiday books, you can really focus in on what's doing its job as a holiday book, even if it wouldn't necessarily win against the several hundred Jewish books that are coming out that same year. Like board books are more likely to end up on the Holiday Highlights list. Because these are books that are going to really work for their audience. And they might not be high art, but they are extremely good at what they are doing and what purpose they're fulfilling.
There might be 70 or 80 books in the picture book category of Sydney Taylor. And usually, you know, there's one winner, two honors, and five or six notables. Well, what if it's the greatest Tu B'Shevat book you've ever seen? But it can't break into that group.
It just has so much more competition, but with this, it's only competing with like a dozen books maybe. Oh, another thing I wanted to mention, another difference between Holiday Highlights and the Sydney Taylor Book Award is that a book may be eligible for Holiday Highlights if it has come back into print, even if it has no changes. So for Sydney Taylor Book Award, it has to be reillustrated or you know seriously re-edited, has to be different, has to be new in some way. For the Holiday Highlights it could be the same exact book. It's just that now it's available again, because the point of Holiday Highlights is what's out now, what are we recommending that is in print and available to buy at this time? So for instance--
We're gonna say the same thing.
So I was gonna say that Hanukkah at Valley Forge had actually won the Sydney Taylor Book Award many years ago, and came back into print in 2021. And so we put it onto the Holiday Highlights list, even though it wasn't significantly different.
And I was going to mention The Four Questions came back into print with a new publisher. And that then made our first list.
That's right. So just a couple of examples of how the lists are very different actually, from Sydney Taylor. So we're only on our third list at this point. This is a very new project. So let's just talk about the lists that have come out so far. The first one was spring of 2021. That was our inaugural list, only had four books on it. We had one Shabbat book, and we had three Passover books. The Shabbat book was Soosie: The Horse that Saved Shabbat by Tami Lehman-Wilzig from Kalaniot.
I loved this book. It's really heartwarming.
Yeah. And I like that it was an Israeli setting; not a story about Israel, it just happened to be set there. So that was very nice and kind of unusual. We mentioned The Four Questions by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, which has these really fascinating anthropomorphic animals celebrating at a Seder.
Oh, really intricate illustrations, very beautiful. And I was really happy to see that Levine Querido put this back in print, because the copy of my library was really ragged. And I was really happy to get a new one.
We had Meet the Matzah by Alan Silberberg, which is rollicking and funny and silly.
So silly. And it's part of a series, super kid friendly.
Right. They're all talking food.
But Jewish talking food!
Jewish talking food. Yeah. And then, of course, what could be better? The other book on this list was The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel! Yay! And of course, you were sitting out this session, because...
Yeah, I had to totally walk away from this one.
Yeah. And I do want to point out that you and I are the coordinators. We are not judges, we do not vote. We just organize, collect all the titles, set the deadlines, nudge the judges to make sure that they're, you know, reviewing the books. So we're not actually making any decisions here.
But even so I didn't...
But even so you stepped away so that, you know, it would all be kosher. When the committee met, they really talked about, you know, we want to make sure that we're not playing favorites or anything. And they couldn't ignore that this was a really high quality book, which has been independently confirmed by all the starred reviews you've got from all of the different review journals, and so on.
Well, Heidi, this is the most you've ever told me about it deliberations.
So of course, if anybody wants to know more details about The Passover Guest, I will put a link in the show notes to our full interview with you and Sean Rubin, the illustrator, and we talked about it at length.
And then we have the winner interview...
The interview that we did about all of the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners for the 2022 Award. And so of course, you guys took part in that as well. So if anybody wants to hear more about The Passover Guest, we got you covered. So that was our very first list for Holiday Highlights. And then that fall in 2021, we actually had a bit of a longer list. As we mentioned, we had the past Sydney Taylor winner Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, and that was reissued by Apples and Honey.
It's a really stunning book. I think it's really important for kids to see that there were Jews during colonial America and so many other time periods. Somehow we're like, Oh, they're only about the Holocaust and Inquisition and...
And the Lower East Side.
... and the Lower East Side, but you know, this is a lovely book to start exploring that with.
Yes. We did actually have a Rosh Hashanah book on the list as well. Rosh Hashanah with Uncle Max by Varda Livney from Kar-Ben. This is a sweet, sweet story of a goofy family interacting. The uncle is just funny and silly and the best kind of uncle and it's great because it's an interracial Jewish family celebrating the holiday. We also had a board book called Hello Hanukkah by Susan Novich, also from Kar-Ben.
Board books are deceptively simple. They're something that I've studied and take very seriously. This board book is done very well. It has very intriguing illustrations.
Yes, it has these nice cut paper illustrations and it reinforces colors and counting, which you know, a menorah makes that easy to do. And that's another thing that on the Sydney Taylor Book Award list, board books would not rise to the top in this way but here we're able to give them some attention. That's really nice. We also had for Hanukkah an easy reader which is another kind of book that is not as likely to stand out on a Sydney Taylor list, but here it does. And this is also a reprint, reillustrations actually and revamped text. They really did a good job updating this. It's called Is It Hanukkah Yet? by Nancy Krulik. It's Step Into Reading Level 2 from Penguin Random House.
I just want to say, you know, Heidi and I talk a lot about what's missing in the world of Jewish children's books. This is what's missing, among other things: early readers, there are maybe five total. I was very pleased that the Holiday Highlights committee recognized this book. Because you know, the hope too is that the publisher see what's being recognized and say, oh, let's make more of that.
Exactly. So this book originally came out in the year 2000. And society has changed. So in the original book, the little girl is at home getting ready for Hanukkah with mommy, and waiting for daddy to come home from work. But now she's at home with grandma and grandpa, and grandpa's cooking the latkes. And then mommy and daddy come home from work. So it reflects societal changes, has been updated. And also just the new illustrations have maybe kind of almost a sort of a Disney-esque look to them. It's gonna catch the attention of modern children more than the the original illustrations.
Another Hanukkah book that was on this list was one that I was very excited about. It also was a notable for the Sydney Taylor Book Awards. And that is Red and Green and Blue and White by Lee Wind, and the pictures by Paul Zelinsky. You know, Paul Zelinksy was a Sydney Taylor winner for All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah.
And you know, a Caldecott medalist!
And oh, yeah, a Caldecott medalist, whatever! And they've both been guests here on The Book of Life. So this is a book I totally loved. And it's also a retelling of a real incident that had been covered in children's literature in the past: The Christmas Menorahs, How a Town Fought Hate was the title. And so that was a longer, more text heavy...
Older version of the story. And then this is a more poetic, lighter touch, and gorgeous art. And this is a true story about an antisemitic incident in Montana, somebody threw a rock through the window where there was a menorah displayed and the whole town rallied behind this family and put menorah displays in thousands of windows to show their support. So it was a beautiful example of allyship.
This book was one of my absolute favorites of the year. I was really taken with both Lee's incredible writing, and Paul's absolutely extraordinary illustrations. I thought it was a book that we need right now in today's climate. It was just absolutely a cut above. I mentioned earlier, the publisher, Levine Querido. It's a small publisher. It's only been around for a few years, they have been doing an extraordinary job with Jewish books, with all their books in general. They were handsomely rewarded at this year's Youth Media Awards for many things, including winning the Newbery Medal. Having watched the company form, it has been really rewarding to see that and has been really particularly rewarding in their small lists to see them do a large portion of that small list on Jewish literature and exciting Jewish literature and literature that doesn't conform to stereotypes and so I have been thrilled to see what they have been doing.
Absolutely. So the last two books on the fall 2021 Holiday Highlights lists are both Shabbat books, and they're both kind of funny goofy Shabbat books. One of them is Bubbe and Bart's Matzah Ball Mayhem by Bonnie Grubman and that was from Intergalactic Afikomen and the other was Sharkbot Shalom by Jenna Waldman and that was from Apples and Honey. Both of these are kid pleasers. They're goofy, they are silly. Bart is Bubbe's dog, who is helping her make the matzah balls for Shabbat dinner and the matzah balls go crazy, and they're bouncing around the room and they're chasing them around. So it's just a lot of crazy fun. And then Sharkbot Shalom, you know, a shark and a robot. Two of the top things that preschoolers love, you really can't go wrong.
Yeah, and I do want to comment on a couple of the publishers. I just talked about Levine Querido but we've also been seeing a number of small Jewish publishers form in the last few years, just mentioned Intergalactic Afikomen, Kalaniot Books and also Green Bean. It's exciting to see the field grow and to see all these new contributions to it.
Let's go ahead and talk about the newest list.
The 2022 Spring Holiday Highlights list. We again are recognizing some board books. We've got a pair of board books, both by Vicki Webber from Apples and Honey Press, Shabbat Shalom, and the other companion one is called A New Week. And this is actually part of a series of board books. There are some other titles that weren't specifically holiday related but that were aimed at very, very young children.
Helen Oxenbury, who is a pioneer of board books, very much in the early days of the board book world, she did a series All Fall Down, Clap Hands, Say Good Night and Tickle Tickle, those four books. And not only were they pioneering books, but they were also kind of multicultural before that was quite a thing. To me, these books that Vicki has done and there's there's a few more coming out, to me these books are in the vein of those legendary books from Helen, and I am so delighted to see books in the Jewish market for Jewish children on Jewish topics that are similar. What I find really terrific is in addition to the Shabbat Shalom book, she has this book called A New Week, which is on Havdalah. And it is almost impossible to find a book on Havdalah particularly for a younger kid. So to see this book, completely dedicated Havdalah is terrific. Like Helen's books, these are also multicultural books. I was just delighted with them.
I think that that is a very astute observation to compare them to the Helen Oxenbury board books, they have the same vibe. They're very, very simple. They feature a diverse cast of Jewish toddlers.
Yeah, with that same white background and the same look.
Yes. So then let's talk about the Passover books. We had three rather remarkable Passover books. None of them takes place anywhere near where we are in North America. And two of them, maybe all three of them, but at least two of them are clearly Sephardic. And the other one could be, you know, there's nothing to rule it out. So let's go chronologically by when they take place. The one with the earliest setting is Raquela's Seder by Joel Edward Stein, and that's from Kar-Ben.
So this is a book about Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. If you were going to remain in Spain and remain Jewish, you had to hide the fact that you were Jewish. They were talking about how to have the Seder in secret. And there actually are a few other books about having secret seders. There's actually one called The Secret Seder. But I thought that this one did a really great job of a creative way of handling the seder.
The Secret Seder, doesn't that take place during the Holocaust, though?
It does take place during the Holocaust, but it's still about hiding the seder.
Yes, there have been various times in history when Jewish people had to hide their Jewish practice in order to survive.
Yes. So I thought this was first of all, just visually gorgeous. It's got these flowing, richly colored pictures that take place largely on the sea. So they're just beautiful. And I thought that it was a very clever device to have them go out into a boat far away from where any prying eyes could see in order to be able to celebrate, that was clever, and probably something that actually happened. I think it did a very good job of explaining the Inquisition and the need for secrecy in a non-traumatizing, simplified manner that was age appropriate.
When you have something very traumatic, but it's necessary for the story, it's hard to explain it to children. And I think in Raquela's Seder, I think they did a nice job of explaining that. It can be very tricky.
So it's inspiring also, because they found a way to surmount that challenge and be their true selves. It's not only historically interesting and beautiful to look at, but it's inspiring too. So the next book I want to talk about takes place in the 1950s in Iran. And it's A Persian Passover by Etan Basseri, and this is from Kalaniot. The illustrations' colors are extremely rich. There's a lot of really intense red and intense turquoise blue, that gives a sense of place, maybe kind of a sense of foreign-ness to me as a North American reader. It's a little bit of a longer story. I would say that this is more for elementary readers rather than preschoolers. And it's a slice of life, where the family is getting ready to celebrate Passover, there's a communal matzah oven where the children take the flour to be turned into matzah and they have an accident; they trip and mess up the matzah and have to rely on a neighbor to supply them with matzah and of course invite her to be part of their seder. So it's a story about "all who are hungry, come and eat."
I find that to be beautiful, that she helps them and then they help her. I also love there's a part where the kids go to the market and they ask for matzah, But we don't have matzah, but we can give you this and we can give you that. And so everybody is contributing, the community is contributing. And then the community is all making the matzah together. So it's a very beautiful story and think it's the kind of story that we need. And we're always talking about stories in different locations, Sephardic stories we don't see as much of. Here were two back to back Sephardic stories. It's like, exactly what we've been asking for for so many years. And there they are.
Right, and two different kinds of Sephardic stories, one from Spain, one from Iran. So I was thinking that A Persian Passover is completely unique in having a Middle Eastern non-Israeli Jewish story. But then you had reminded me that actually, it's not entirely alone in this because there is a recent book called A Persian Princess by Barbara Diamond Goldin.
And then there's Osnat and Her Dove
Right, which is a historical tale that takes place in Iraq, about the first, essentially the first female rabbi, she wasn't known as Rabbi as a title, but she was serving that function in her community. And that was another gorgeous, gorgeous book.
Oh, it was stunning. I loved Osnat so much. Oh, that's another book from Levine Querido that I was just in awe of.
I loved it. So it's interesting that, you know, those are all very recent books, and we're starting to see some books representing that community. So that's very exciting. So the final book for this season's holiday highlights list takes place very recently. It's called Alone Together on Dan Street by Erica Cohen Lyons from Apples and Honey Press. And it takes place during the COVID-19 quarantine, when the world shut down. And that's a setting that I'm really interested to see how that's going to start coming up in children's books. It's just kind of beginning to be reflected in the literature. You know, immediately there were books that we needed that were practical books, teaching specific things about COVID just to educate people. But for COVID to be seen as a setting for a story is something that is now beginning to be reflected.
I know Erica, and I find her to be one of the most phenomenal, powerhouse kind of people that I have ever met. I found this book to be just breathtaking and wonderful and powerful. We keep coming back to this, but it was about community.
Yeah. And this one actually got me choked up. The first line of the book is, "It was the year the singing stopped."
I thought that was an amazing first line.
Yeah. And you know, it shows just sort of an empty landscape with a cat sitting on a wall. It's showing Jerusalem so we immediately know where we are. But, you know, everybody was indoors at the beginning of the lockdown. People were just inside, afraid to get near anybody else. So it's really reflecting the way that that felt. And then it goes through the way the family keeps themselves occupied and how Passover snuck up on us that year, you know, everybody was kind of struggling to figure out how could we celebrate a communal holiday where you're supposed to-- "all who are hungry, come and eat," when you can't let people through your door. I mean, Elijah was the only one who was safe to let into the house. So the final line is where I get choked up, because spoiler alert, the solution that she finds is that this is a neighborhood full of balconies, the neighbors can come together on their balconies to sing the four questions and to celebrate, apart and together at the same time, and they pass some food along from one balcony to another so that they can share that as well. But the final line of the story is, "It was the year of singing with one another. No one was together. But no one was alone." And I'm getting ferklempt again, as I read that. It's so beautiful.
It's so beautiful.
Because this is history that we lived through. I mean, it really gets me right there. Because it evokes that feeling that I had, you know, a year or two ago when we were trying to figure out, can we do this on Zoom? Can we do this outside? What can we do to still maintain that feeling and not have to just like have a year with no Passover? It sounds like a Hallmark movie, you know, the year with no Christmas, the year with no Passover. So this is just gorgeous.
To me, I got choked up when this young girl is talking to her neighbor, and she's practicing the four questions and her neighbor who's an older man, and she said, Well, you're not the youngest. He said, Well, this year, I am the youngest because I'm the only one in my house. I found that to be beautiful. And the other thing that I was struck by: we're having a very tough time right now getting books about Israel published at all. Nobody wants to touch them. Nobody wants to talk about them. Nobody wants to be near them. And if we do get books about Israel published, they're travelogues: well, we went to the Kotel and we went to the shuk and we went to Masada, and now we're in the Dead Sea, the end, Shalom, flying home. And I have 20 of those books. This book is not that at all. And it's brave to publish it. It was brave to write it. And I'm so grateful it got published.
Yeah, that's a good point. It's a really important book in that sense, because it shows people just living their normal life doing what they do, and -- actually not living their normal life, because this is during quarantine. But it's showing the universality of that quarantine experience, there was this Passover where nobody could have an actual live get together for a seder. And that happened here. And it happened in Israel. And it happened everywhere. And so I think that that is a universal thing that all Jews around the world can relate to, but as you say, it's a wonderful thing to be able to see something universal happening in an Israeli setting, because I think we need more of that, we need more stories that show that Israel is a place and just normal people live there and doing the things normal people do. So I think this book achieved that, not probably as its main goal, but along with the other amazing things that was doing, that was achieved as well.
Yeah, it's one of the many things I love about it. And right now I feel it's the, for lack of a better word here, the camel in the room that we can't talk about, we can't talk about having books about Israel. And it's frustrating right now in the publishing industry, coming up against it again, and again and again and again. So every time I see a book about Israel, at all, is amazing. And every time I see a book about Israel, that isn't a travelogue. It's even more amazing.
So now we've talked about all of the books on all of the lists. So now that we have this wonderful list, what do we want folks to do with the list?
We would like you to read them, from your local library, from a Jewish library, your independent bookstore, you can get it from Bookshop.
And I will mention that if you buy through the Association of Jewish Libraries Bookshop storefront online, then of course, that will assist not only independent bookstores, but also AJL. So, in terms of action items, I would invite everybody to take a look at a post on the Book of Life podcast website, written by our friend Joanne Levy, who has also been a guest on The Book of Life several times. And the post is called "How to Support Jewish Children's Literature." And so it completely applies to what we're talking about here with Holiday Highlights. She wrote a solid list of suggestions about buying books, giving books as gifts, writing reviews of books online at places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, social media, any place that you can share your opinion, go ahead and tell people about books that you think deserve attention; asking your local library to purchase books, discussing them in a book club, and just telling people in general about books that you're excited about. So any of these are actions that we can all do, that will cause publishers to make even more great Jewish books. And if you happen to be a journalist who is listening to our conversation right now, we hope that you will cover these in the media, because we would love to see these end up on the seasonal lists that are always being published in newspapers, on blogs. If you're looking to do like a roundup of holiday books, we hope you'll rely on these lists.
And also if you're a teacher, if you're a librarian, if you're a bookseller, we really truly hope you look at these lists. They're designed for you. We vet these books for you find the authenticity and all of that on your behalf, so that you can trust the work that we have done, and put these books out on display, read them to your classes with confidence that these holidays are being well represented, that they're representing the Jewish people well. You don't have to be an expert in all this but that you are sharing good literature with the kids in your life.
Exactly. So that could be a tikun olam suggestion. But do you have any other tikun olam suggestion that you would like to make today?
I do, actually. Passover is coming up. And we talked about the idea "All who are hungry, come and eat," come and share our table, come into our life. So what I would ask is that if you happen to be the kind of person who has a Passover seder, and maybe you invite someone in this year that maybe you've never invited before, invite someone who's never been to Passover seder, perhaps; I always try to do that. And if you are the kind of person who does not have a Passover seder, try to attend one.
I love that. That's a great idea. And I know that Passover is your favorite holiday,
It is my favorite holiday. And that's one of my favorite things about it. As Heidi already knows, once I had a friend. Literally the last minute, Passover was starting in like an hour or two, and she called me up and said, Ah, I know I was coming over. But I can't come, I'm so sorry. I'm moving. I have a friend over here, he's helping me move. And I just have to cancel. And I said, Well, you know, what the heck, bring your friend. And she did. And that friend is now my husband.
So a very good reason to open your doors to everyone who may want to come to your seder is you, you might just meet the love of your life.
And I did, so I recommend it highly.
I love that story. So is there anything else that you would like to talk about that I haven't thought to ask you?
I would like to thank you, Heidi, for being the kind of person who when I say, "hey, what if we did this?" you say "yes, let's." You always come up with a plan. And then we do it. And here we are sitting talking about this idea I had several years ago. But now it's a thing. And now we have three whole lists. And we have a committee and we got it approved by the AJL Board and all that happened, thanks to you. And it's not just this committee. It's the other 8, 10, 20 things we do together. And I am deeply grateful to what you bring to the Jewish community, which is lucky to have you and is a richer place because of you.
Wow, thank you. That is so sweet. I mean, I wouldn't be doing all of these projects if you weren't my partner in crime. It wouldn't be the same without you. So thank you for always coming up with great ideas and for saying yes, once in a while when I'm the instigator. And you say yes to me too. So it's great. And I think we should wear our tiaras together in good health. I see you're getting out your sparkly tiara again. Where's mine? Hold on. I'll put it on.
Unfortunately, the viewers at home cannot see that we are now both wearing tiaras. Oh, and Heidi, if one was looking for these lists, where would one find them?
If you're looking for the Holiday Highlights lists, of course, you can go to my show notes. But you can also go to Jewishlibraries.org/holiday-highlights. It's also under the Publications menu on the Association of Jewish Libraries website.
The three lists are up, we're just gonna keep adding every season so you can go back to previous seasons or you can stay tuned as we add new seasons every fall and spring.
Well, happy Passover everybody and Shabbat Shalom as always.
Thank you, Susan, for joining me.
Thank you, Heidi. It's a real pleasure. I hope to maintain my status as your most frequent guest.
Yes, you are an official Friend of the Show.
We do look lovely in our tiaras right now. I'm really sad that nobody can see it.
Well, we will put a picture.
[MUSIC, DEDICATION] This is Dayna Lorentz, author of Wayward Creatures. I'll be joining you soon on The Book of Life podcast, and I dedicate this episode to Rabbi David Edleson. Rabbi Edleson is my rabbi here in Vermont. And I want to thank him for inspiring me to reengage with my Jewish heritage and for bringing so much joy and music into my in my family's religious life.
[MUSIC, OUTRO] Say hi to Heidi at 561-206-2473 or firstname.lastname@example.org Check out our Book of Life podcast Facebook page, or our Facebook discussion group Jewish Kidlit Mavens. We are occasionally on Twitter too @bookoflifepod. Want to read the books featured on the show? Buy them through Bookshop.org/shop/bookoflife to support the podcast and independent bookstores at the same time. You can also help us out by becoming a monthly supporter through Patreon. Additional support comes from the Association of Jewish Libraries, which also sponsors our sister podcast, Nice Jewish Books, a show about Jewish fiction for adults. You'll find links for all of that and more at BookofLifepodcast.com Our background music is provided by the Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band. Thanks for listening and happy reading!
[MUSIC, PROMO] Thanks, Heidi. This month, I was very pleased to speak with author Bruce Berger about his latest book, The Music Stalker. Kayla is a piano prodigy. From a very young age, she has struggled to balance her musical life with family tensions and mental illness, not to mention the mysterious stalker. Join me for a wide ranging talk with Bruce about music, mental illness and family dynamics at www.Jewishlibraries.org/niceJewishbooks.