[DWJ] book rec

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Sat Mar 25 14:16:09 EST 2006

For girls there are "Are you There God, It's Me, Margaret" which is about a
girl from an intermarriage family and "Starring Sally J. Freedman as
Herself" which is set in the States during W.W.II, both by Judy Blume. All
the other books I can think of seem to be holocaust books. There's "The
Island on Bird Street" by Uri Orlev, which is possibly the best book for
9-11 year olds ever written in Hebrew, I know it's available in English as
well. And there are others I haven't read but know about, such as "Number
the Stars", "When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit", "The Devil's Arithmetic" and "I
am David". But there's something rather extreme about holocaust books, might
be pushing a point not very subtly. At the other extreme there are books
like "The Indian in the Cupboard" in which the kids all have Jewish (in
fact, Israeli) names, but there's nothing particularly Jewish about the
book. Though if I'm not mistaken Lynn Reid Banks has a YA book that focuses
on the Arab-Israeli conflict - again, not very subtle. I don't tend to like
books with overt political agendas. "Running on Eggs" by Anna Levine is one,
a decent book (Anna Levine herself is charming in person) but I found the
treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict a bit oversimplified - then again, I
don't know how one would go about writing about this topic without
oversimplifying.  Or from a completely different perspective, the folktales
of Isaac Bashevis Singer, about the wise men of Chelm, really good reading
and absolutely Jewish, but nothing to do with daily modern life. Oh! I know,
I know! The "All of a Kind" family series by Sidney Taylor. About a large
lower-East-side Jewish family trying to make ends meet during the
depression, if I remember correctly. That's the only series I can think
about which is not necessarily *about* being Jewish or Jewish-related
issues, but in which the family's Jewishness is nonetheless significant to
the story.

-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net]On Behalf Of
deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2006 7:15 AM
To: dwj at suberic.net
Subject: [DWJ] book rec

Calling on the collective book awesomeness of the list!

A middle school teacher friend of mine (teaching mostly 12 year
olds, of mostly Dominican, Columbian, Salvadoran, and Boston
Italian extraction), has been getting her limited english
proficiency inner city kids to love reading.  One book several of
the boys have loved is _The Autobiography of Malcom X_.  I think
it's a really interesting, empowering, and powerful book -- but
it's also got some rather overarching anti-semitism that I find
very troubling.  Many of the kids live in neighborhoods without
any Jews, and there are some real (and very sad) tensions between
the Jewish and African American communities right now.  (Though
not many of these kids are African American; several are black

In any case, I'd love to suggest a book which could model some
positive images of Jews which would be accessible and interesting
to these kids.  The only one I can think of is Karen Hesse's

As an aside, I'm also helping her build a shopping list for
the 7th and 8th grade Drop Everything And Read shelves.  Any
general suggestions would be welcome!  The kids' favorite books
right now are

- House of the Scorpion
- Hoot
- Anything by Walter Dean Myers
- Anything by S. E. Hinton

And they also like

- John Bellairs
- Garth Nix
- The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
- A Great and Terrible Beauty
- Esperanza Rising & Becoming Naomi Leon
- Anything Civil Rights (Eg Watsons Go to Birmingham)
- Biographies
- Civil rights biography
- And they're finally getting into Uglies.


"The doctors guaranteed the treatment would fry the fairy clean
out of him. But all it did was make him bonkers every time he
heard electric guitar."         -- Velvet Goldmine

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