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Welcome back to the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour! We've got three more exciting interviews for you today.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="138" caption="Emma's Poem"][/caption]

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Linda Glaser at ASHarmony with blogger Elizabeth Lipp.

Here's a teaser:
Elizabeth: Linda, I was surprised to read that you struggled as a young reader. How does your struggles as a young reader inform your writing for young readers?

Linda: Yes. I did struggle with reading when I was a kid. In fact, I thought I'd never learn how. That may be why I use a clear simple style when I write for children. I was the type of reader who needed that. And now, I want my books to be accessible to all children--including those who find reading difficult. When I do school visits I always let kids know that I struggled to read. I figure there are probably some kids listening who are heartened to hear that I know what they are going through and that there is hope.


Statue of Liberty under constructionClaire Nivola is the illustrator of Emma's Poem.

Read an interview with Claire at Lori Calabrese with blogger (wait for it) Lori Calabrese.

Here's a teaser:
Lori: Emma Lazarus's famous lines inspired the way we envision America's exceptional freedom and the way we hold it dear today. How were you inspired to create the amazing illustrations in Emma's Poem?

Claire: Most inspiring for me was the photographic record of the time - pictures of newly arrived immigrants, photographs of the statue itself partially uncrated, of the statue once erected seen from the decks of ships arriving in the N.Y. harbor. Photography was still in its infancy then, but often those early black and white pictures documenting the arrival of a refugee or a family carrying all its modest belongings provided a powerful, deeply telling, and poignant record.


One is Not a Lonely NumberOne Is Not a Lonely Number is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Evelyn Krieger at Ima On and Off the Bima with blogger Phyllis Sommer.

Here's a teaser:

Phyllis: What inspired you to write this story? I see from your biography that you are one of six kids, what brought you to a story about an only child?

Evelyn: When you are the oldest of six kids, its only natural to occasionally wonder what it's like to be an only child.As part of my preparation for the book, I interviewed only children--both kids and adults.  I remember a first grader who wanted a sibling so badly that he invented his mother's pregnancy for show and tell. And I fell for it!


Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Barbara Diamond Goldin (Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale) at Great Kid Books, Jaime Zollars (illustrator, Cakes and Miracles) at The Book of Life, and Susan Lynn Meyer (Black Radishes) at The Three R's - Reading, 'Riting, & Research.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award 2011 Blog Tour begins today with three stops!

ResistanceResistance is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Older Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Carla Jablonski at Jewish Comics with blogger Steven Bergson.

Here's a teaser:
Steven: When did the idea for writing the Resistance books come to you? Was there a particular event that occurred which inspired you to write it?

Carla: The war in Iraq, actually, got me wondering about what it would be like to live in an occupied country. I was also interested in the tensions between an experience as it is happening vs. history or hindsight.


image from Resistance

Leland Purvis is the illustrator of the graphic novel, Resistance.

Read an interview with Leland at Shelf-Employed with blogger Lisa Taylor.

Here's a teaser:

Lisa: In Resistance, you often use Paul’s sketchbook to portray people or events  in the story. I found it interesting that, in most cases, Paul’s sketchbook depicts events not through the filtered eye of the young boy, but as they are. In my mind, that tells a story in itself - that the behavior of Nazi  Germany was so horrific that exaggeration, even for an imaginative young boy, is impossible. Was that the point that you were trying to make, or does the sketchbook have another purpose in the story?

Leland: The sketchbook serves a couple of purposes, which is why you were sensing a dual-role, essentially. On the one hand it was a narrative device by which Paul could be valuable to the Maquis resistance in a credible way. Also it does provide a look into Paul's head about his reaction to the town and people around him. We very much included panels that were strictly Paul's P.O.V. This has continued into the sequels.


Modeh Ani

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book is a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers Category. Its predecessor, The Bedtime Sh'ma, was the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category.

Read an interview with author Sarah Gershman at Biblio File with blogger Jennie Rothschild.

Here's a teaser:
Jennie: Many Jews do not write out God and instead use a substitute, such as G-d. However, throughout your book, you use God. Why did you make this decision and do you have a response to those who are critical of it (I noticed it came up in the Amazon reviews of the Bedtime Sh'ma.)

Sarah: My main motivation was to make the book accessible to people of all backgrounds. That being said, there are also Rabbinic opinions that say that writing God in English is not the same thing as writing God's full name in Hebrew. We were careful not to do that in the Hebrew portions of the book, as well as on the Bedtime Sh'ma CD.


Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Linda Glaser (author, Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty) at ASHarmony, Claire Nivola (illustrator, Emma's Poem) at Lori Calabrese, and Evelyn Krieger (One is Not a Lonely Number) at Ima On and Off the Bima.

Here’s this week’s collection of links about libraries, Jewish libraries, librarianship and more. Many thanks to Marie Cloutier for establishing this feature on AJL's Blog, and welcome to Bob Schrier, who now takes up the reins!

In the recent reference workshop held by the local NYC chapter of AJL, Columbia University’s Michelle Chesner discussed the social bookmarking tool Delicious. If you haven't signed up for an account yet, now is the time. Use Delicious to save your bookmarks into a searchable index that can be shared with others and is web-accessible (rather than accessible only locally on your computer).   Search and see what a couple of AJL members have done with Delicious here and here.

Are upper-classmen popping into your library yet to begin looking for jobs? JewishJobs provides a searchable database and weekly email digest for Jewish-related jobs nationwide.

Cooking based on the weekly parsha brought to you by Elisha's Double Portion. Each week, Elisha takes some element of the weekly Torah portion and transforms it into an idea for a recipe. Look at her recipe for gold dusted chocolate covered sesame cookies for Parshas Terumah.

Keep your eyes on the National Digital Public Library program sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, which is attempting to make millions of books and resources accessible to library and school systems nationwide for free (as opposed to GoogleBooks). Follow their blog here at Library City.

The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure recently began its large-scale four year project. Financially sponsored by the EU, 20 organizations worldwide are joining together on a collaborative digitization program that will promote greater access to geographically dispersed Holocaust documents and artifacts.

Check out Anya's War, a new young adult Jewish novel by Andrea Alban about a girl and her family who escape Hitler's forces by running away to China. The book is due to be released sometime in the beginning of this month.

Enjoy! Email Bob at schriro at with feedback and suggestions of links for future roundups!

Posted in: Link Round-Up
AJL Council Meeting 2011

By Barbara Bietz, Chair, Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee

I recently returned from an inspiring weekend in New York attending the AJL Mid-Winter Board and Council Meeting. Earlier in  January I experienced a flurry of activity for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and I was excited about the announcement of the 2011 Awards. It was so heartwarming to arrive in New York to discover that everyone from AJL was equally enthusiastic and appreciate of the committee’s efforts. On Sunday night after the Board meeting, the SSC gang had a dinner meeting at Mr. Broadway (SSC is the Synagogue, School & Center division of AJL, which oversees the Sydney Taylor Book Award). Over pickles and stuffed cabbage, SSC President Joyce Levine led the group. We discussed important issues and brainstormed solutions, including outreach to library volunteers, updating our blog, and finding more way to reach out to the AJL community. As I looked at all the faces at the table I felt a sense of awe. Here we sat, a group of passionate, committed peoples from various parts of the country and Canada, with a shared mission – to promote Jewish libraries. Whether it’s placing the perfect book in the right hands, educating others, or fundraising – it’s all about doing the best for our communities.

The Monday morning Council meeting started early – with plenty of coffee and pastries for all! Development Chair and SSC Secretary Kathe Pinchuck shared an inspiring D’var Torah that underscored our commitment as a group. I didn’t know what to expect from the meeting. AJL President Jim Rosenbloom encouraged everyone to share their thoughts and concerns. We tackled some serious challenges – from budget cuts to convention planning and more. There were respectful disagreements, but overall I was encouraged by the level of respect that everyone showed one another. There was a consensus about the importance of welcoming to new members, supporting local chapters, and helping library school students follow a path towards Judaica librarianship. Although much was accomplished, the meeting was also an opportunity for everyone to share good news, visit with old friends, and connect with new ones. I have a wonderful time in New York and feel honored to be part of the AJL family. There are lots of committees that need hands and hearts – so if you have a bit of time and you would like to participate, please consider AJL!
On Friday, January 28, AJL librarian and former AJL President Susan Dubin joined AJL Facebook fans for an hour of questions and answers on using general-interest books to teach Judaism and Jewish values.

Visit the Facebook Friday homepage here and email Heidi Estrin at if you're interested in participating as a moderator or guest.

Association of Jewish Libraries: Welcome to Facebook Friday! With us today is Susan Dubin, librarian extraordinaire, to discuss using general-interest books to teach Judaism and Jewish values. Welcome, Susan!

Association of Jewish Libraries: This is Heidi Estrin - nice to "see" you, Suzi! Off the top of your head, do you want to name a few favorite secular books with Jewish values?

Susan Dubin: Hi everyone! I am here in sunny California. If anyone would like a bibliography I prepared for teaching about service learning, it has a lot of books covering various Jewish values.

Steven Bergson: I'm a bit uncomfortable with the concept of "Jewish values". As a Jew, I can identify certain values as being "Jewish", but several of them seem more like universal values which are shared by other faiths and cultures.

Susan Dubin: By Jewish values in our school environment we mean the mitzvot. Every year we highlight one of the m as a theme.

Sheryl Stahl I think it depends on the context - In a religious school, it make sense to teach Jewish values - even if other people/religions share them once the kid hits the street

Sheryl Stahl on the other hand - or same hand? I get really offended if when I help someone they thank me by saying that was very "Christian" of me.

Association of Jewish Libraries: True! It is also important to allow these students to be proud that such universal concepts are Jewish!

Steven Bergson: That's one perspective. Then there's the other one that questions why we Jews are "claiming" values that came from another culture.

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: sounds like another topic for another- and very lively- Q&A!

Susan Dubin: A favorite activity in our library is our cave for Shakespeare Week which morphs into a cave for Lag B'Omer. Students help decorate the cave and then come into the library pretending to watch for Roman soldiers. Of course, we tell Jewish stories secretly in the cave. Rabbi Ben Zakai watches over us.

Susan Dubin: Posted on our catalog website is a bibliography for B'tzelem Elohem. There are Judaic and secular books listed. The website is Do you have any favorites?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: Did we lose a comment under Heidi's first question?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Yes. I posted a response and now it is gone. Suzi Dubin

Susan Dubin: I answered Heidi's question by saying that just last week I used "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss to teach about Tu B'Shevat. The children made a puppet play conversation between the Lorax and the Onceler about the importance of trees.
Another book I use every year is "The Relatatives Came" to introduce the idea of Welcoming Guests.
Our theme this year is "Btzelem Elohem". To introduce it I used the book ""I Like Me."

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: I have a question. what do secular books offer that's different from Jewish books when it comes to teaching mitzvot?

Susan Dubin: Secular books are often more readily available.

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: Another question: Do you ever use books that come from a different religious tradition or do you just use books with no overt religious content?

Susan Dubin: Yes. I use books from everywhere. If a book is from another religious point of view I point it out to the students.

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: For the purposes of this conversation, does a book count as Jewish if it has Jewish characters, or do you encounter books with Jewish characters that you would nonetheless count as secular if there was no other Jewish/religious content?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Yes. I consider books of general interest books with no specific Judaic content.

Sheryl Stahl: Do you have any favorite young adult novels?

Steven Bergson: Favorite YA novel that I haven't read yet : The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

Sheryl Stahl: Love the movie! haven't read the book - but what values do you think it illustrates?

Steven Bergson: Can't say until I finish reading it. I've got to go back to it one of these days. It's on my "to read when I have free time" shelf.

Steven Bergson: However, from what I've read about it & from leafing through parts of it, I can tell that the movie condensed it.

Susan Dubin: I love YA books. A recent favorite is Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Sheryl Stahl: Hunger Games was a favorite at my house too - but again - what values do you see?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: The hour is officially up, but folks can feel free to continue to chat. I'll keep recording the convo as long as I can. Thank you so much to Suzi for being our guest this week & for everyone who participated!

Susan Dubin:Thank you for joining me. I will be checking back throughout the day.

Posted by Marie.
Posted in: Facebook Friday
Here's this week's collection of links on Jewish books, libraries and librarianship.

Do you know a librarian superhero? Enter him or her in a contest starting from this post on Stephen's Lighthouse.

Graphic Storytelling by Jewish Women from the Sisterhood.

From Tablet, Daybreak: Holocaust Remembrance Day.

OA: Just Another Business Model, from ACRLog.

Ebooks and Libraries: A Stream of Concerns, from Information Wants to be Free.

The Jewish Book Council's J Lit Links.

That's it for me. The weekly roundup may be on a brief hiatus in the coming weeks.

Posted by Marie.
Posted in: Link Round-Up
January is National Mentoring Month

By Stephanie (Sara Leah) Gross (revised)

I just returned from an innervating session with 40 council members at the annual mid-winter conference.  Of course, there were the usual deliberations about  budget, convention expenditures and ratifications of past minutes. However, there were some much-awaited proposals for innovations to increase our membership as well as make AJL a more-valuable resource to its members.

  • Michelle Chesner, RAS Secretary, pushed for more inclusion of library science students, including possible free membership for them.  She related how her internship at NYU’s dual-master’s program with a qualified mentor shaped her future in the profession.  I have long been involved with library students, from my early days in the New York Library Club, and most recently with my own networking group (NY Librarians Meetup Group).  Now, I was finally hearing multiple voices who wished to propel this idea into action.  Although still in its infancy, I was given to understand that there will be collaboration among at least a few committees:  the Task Force, RAS, SSC and Mentoring.

  • Professional development and continuing education: To be honest, such collaboration  will be a challenge for our organization, where many members have been out of library school for considerable time.  Not to worry, there are great plans for professional development and continuing education, including podcasts, webinars and wikis. I requested that any members who had a desire to include mentorship in their work contact me so that we may get down to business as soon as possible.

  • Internships and grants: Michelle also described possible initiatives concerning student internships as well as IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grants.  The former will certainly help draw new members as well as the much needed “fresh blood”  to maintain our momentum.

  • We were given a preview of the new web site which is scheduled for its roll-out in February. In addition to being able to edit our committee pages more easily than in the past, committee chairs may be able to set up their profiles, included headshots and social media links.  For those interested in networking and establishing appropriate visibility, these improvements will be a boon, especially to our new members.

  • I hope to sponsor a Mentor Mingle at the Montreal convention, but must remind all chapters and divisions that mentoring is a processes that is mutually beneficial to those involved, from the individuals to the association itself.  It is a perk of membership that is at times under-used, and we must be vigilant that we do not lose sight of our mission as educators to share, support and encourage newcomers to our group and to our organization.

  • As Chair of the Mentoring Committee, I’m hoping that my committee will be more effective to members in “far-flung” corners of the world where access to Judaica librarians is challenging.  I hope to use my space on the web for telecommunication, such as Skype, Instant Messaging, and perhaps even group events on social media such as Facebook or Second Life.  If there are individuals out there who would like to be included in this initiative, please contact me at  Until that time, do make a point of visiting my page on the AJL wiki dedicated to social media for librarians.  Look it over and please send me feed-back. We will all benefit from that.

New Book on Mentoring: Now, onto a special “shout-out” for a new book on mentoring by  ALA.  The title is aptly, Mentoring in the Library:   Building for the Future by Marta K. Lee. I must say that it certainly met my expectations from the first peek at the Introduction.  I  learned of this book through an ALA newsletter alert on new publications and immediately purchased it online (ISBN 9780838935934 ; $50.)  It arrived in the mail just today, and I thought “How marvelous! Just in time for my blog post!  The book itself is a mere 122 pages, replete with chapters devoted to enumerating the kind of skills a mentor should have, with techniques for successful development, education and training.  Also included are guidelines for establishing formal and informal mentoring arrangements, with a chapter devoted to mentoring librarians electronically.  The book flap boasts “In this useful book, Lee shows librarians how mentoring can be both personally satisfying and a path to career development.”  Besides the requisite bibliography and index, this handbook includes appendices with forms for requests, proposals, and promotion review timetable .  Of interest, too, are the case studies from two academic institutions.  However, both volunteers and school librarians are given space, so those who are not planning mentorship in RAS will still wish to give this volume and careful read.  Finally, the book jacket suggests other related titles, such as Coaching in the Library:  A management Strategy for achieving excellence 2nd ed. By Ruth F. Metz and Succession planning in the library:  Developing leaders, managing change by Paul M Singer with Gail Griffith.  These books may be order at or 866.746.7252!

Happy Mentoring! Remember to send your stories, lessons learned, and feedback to be shared with others.  Look for me, too, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  I often post to AJL, but have my own Twitter account (NYLibrarians).  Other contact information:  ajlmentoring AT gmail.comSkype: Stephanie.L.Gross.  Best of luck to you all in 2011!  I plan to be at the convention in June, so do send me ideas for sessions or general ideas for PR and outreach.  You need not be a library student, and librarians in transition as well as newly-minted librarians are warmly encouraged to become involved.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award will be celebrating and showcasing its 2011 gold and silver medalists with a Blog Tour, February 6-11, 2011! Interviews with winning authors and illustrators will appear on a wide variety of Jewish, kidlit, and family-interest blogs. For those of you who have not yet experienced a Blog Tour, it's basically a virtual book tour. Instead of going to a library or bookstore to see an author or illustrator speak, you go to a website on or after the advertised date to read an author’s or illustrator's interview.

Below is the schedule for the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour. Please follow the links to visit the hosting blogs on or after their tour dates, and be sure to leave plenty of comments!

For the full list of this year's winners, honors, and notable books, please visit the Association of Jewish Libraries website.



Carla Jablonski, author of Resistance
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Jewish Comics

Leland Purvis, illustrator of Resistance
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Shelf-Employed

Sarah Gershman, author of Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Biblio File


Linda Glaser, author of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at ASHarmony

Claire Nivola, illustrator of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Lori Calabrese

Evelyn Krieger, author of One Is Not a Lonely Number
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Ima On and Off the Bima


Barbara Diamond Goldin, author of Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Great Kid Books

Jaime Zollars, illustrator of Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at The Book of Life

Susan Lynn Meyer, author of Black Radishes
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at The 3 Rs – Reading, ‘Riting & Research


Howard Schwartz, author of Gathering Sparks
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Boston Bibliophile

Barry Deutsch, author and illustrator of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at BewilderBlog

Dana Reinhardt, author of The Things a Brother Knows
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy


Kristina Swarner, illustrator of Gathering Sparks
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
And illustrator of Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog

Sarah Darer Littman, author of Life, After
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at Into the Wardrobe

Eishes Chayil, author of Hush
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at Frume Sarah’s World


Morris Gleitzman, author of Once
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at The Fourth Musketeer

Sydney Taylor Award Winners – Wrap-Up
All winners, all categories
at The Whole Megillah
Author Sharon Bially recently made the decision to publish her most recent novel, Veronica's Nap, online, as a blog; the story of a mother struggling with marriage, children and life choices has a distinctly Jewish setting in the milieu of Sephardic France and in the questions below, she addresses why she chose these topics to write about, the challenges she faced and her views on the future of publishing and of the book.

1. Why did you choose to set your novel in the Sephardic culture of
France? What do you find interesting or special about this corner of
the Jewish world? How does the setting impact your characters and by extension, the story?

France’s diverse and vibrant Jewish community is a fascinating microcosm of world Judaism, embodying nearly all of its aspects and living them out with an intensity rarely seen outside of Israel.  Its half-million-plus members – the third largest Jewish population worldwide after Israel and the U.S. – include both Ashkinazi survivors of Nazi occupation (as well as their descendants), and large numbers of Maghreban Sephardim – emigrants from France’s former colonies, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.  Discovering these two groups’ differences and similarities, their traditions, customs and direct, palpable links to the past, was far more intriguing to me than getting to the bottom of that French je-ne-sais-quoi during the twelve years I spent in Paris and Aix-en-Provence.   And learning about the Maghreban Sephardim has opened my eyes to a whole other dimension of Judaism that deserves a lot more attention than it gets!  It’s so important to be able step outside of ourselves and look back in from another angle.  As a Jewish American married to a French-Italian Cohen, I continue this discovery process every day and want to share it.

On top of its cultural and historical richness, the French Jewish community lives alongside France’s 5 – 6 million Muslims.  Tensions often flare, particularly in conjunction with developments in the Middle East.  Synagogue bombings and other such incidents spark high-voltage emotions that can make Jewish life in France feel like it’s taking place at the very core of the Middle East conflict.

I find Provence intriguingly symbolic of all this.  There’s a large population of both Maghreban Jews and Muslims, and the landscape even reminds me of parts of Israel, with its Mediterranean blue skies and cypress trees.  Its vivid contrasts – striking shades of blue and green and orange, harsh wind that rips through the peaceful scenery, architecture that simultaneously encapsulates both the past and the present – resonate with all sorts of conflicts, from world politics to one woman’s identity struggle.  And its beauty can fool you into forgetting what’s really going on beneath the sunny surface.  This is the linchpin of the emotional bond between the setting, the characters and the story of Veronica’s Nap.
2. Your protagonist, Veronica, is a privileged married woman who has the luxury of time to herself and the resources to follow her dreams of painting, yet she struggles. What kinds of value-oriented questions is Veronica challenged by? What are her moral guideposts?

Veronica Berg Benhamou, the story’s protagonist, has the good fortune of having most of her material needs provided for by her husband and parents.  Like many others with a similar background, she’s awash in choices and has never had to fight for her well-being or ideals.  When her hard-working, Moroccan-Sephardic husband loses patience with her aimlessness, triggering her quest for change, she’s forced to question the assumptions underlying her rose-tinted values about personal merit, hardship, the sources of inner strength and her role as an adult.

As guideposts, Veronica initially looks to the values touting individual fulfillment she was raised with in suburban New Jersey and the sanguine belief these fostered that if you just give it a good old college try, things will always turn out for the best.  Deeply attached to her own family, she values Jewish family life – enough to agree to the more observant lifestyle her husband leads, including keeping kosher, and to join his family in celebrating holidays Moroccan-style.  As the story unfolds, she’s forced to question what these values mean to her, too.

3. You’re publishing this novel on a blog, at How did you become interested in using social media as a vehicle for telling your story? Has it changed the way you told the story?

As a professional publicist, I’m fascinated by the power of social media, which has blurred the lines around many stalwart institutions including the press and is a fantastic community-building tool.  And as a writer who’s had two unsuccessful agency contracts over a period of ten years, I was yearning to share my work by the time I finished Veronica’s Nap.  I was also eager to connect with people about its many issues – motherhood, identity, the French and Jewish angles – and to share the “backstory” about my path as a writer and what I’ve learned from it, which I hope can be of value to others.  Blog technology just seemed like the right tool for accomplishing all these goals together.

Because I completed the book before launching the blog, blogging hasn't changed the way I've told the story -- which in fa ct may not be particularly well suited to blogging!  It'll be interesting to see this relationship evolves for others, though, as more writers begin posting work-in-progress online.
4. What are some of the challenges you faced writing this story? What did you learn?

To adequately describe the challenges of writing this book, I’d need to write another!  I began writing fiction before the internet age really took off, and even when I started scribbling the first drafts of Veronica’s Nap, online resources for writers were rare.  So I relied mainly on a couple of local writing groups for support.  Unfortunately, the quality of the input I received was often dubious at best and it was difficult to figure out where to get better advice.  At one point, I threw up my hands and stopped looking, since this search seemed to take up more time and energy than writing.

As a result, I had no guidance shaping the narrative or plot of Veronica’s Nap in a way that fits in with current publishing trends.  Veronica’s inner conflict, her denial, her relationship with her husband, how it feels to be her – these quiet, contemplative events inspired me, so that’s what I wrote about.  I’ve only recently learned that they’re too “quiet” from publishers’ perspective.  Still, it was as exhilarating as it was challenging to explore them in depth, and in addition to growing as a writer, I learned a lot from putting myself in Veronica’s shoes about the power and limitations of denial.

Now that I’m more familiar with the publishing world and its trends, I’ve also learned to question my own values as a writer.  While I used to be determined at all costs to to write a book that would attract a publisher, I now feel differently.  Simply continuing to write what’s meaningful, to improve as a writer and share my stories when I’m ready has become much more important.  And the lives of French Jews are extremely close to my heart: Veronica’s Nap is just the tip of the iceberg.  My next book will tell the story of a woman who’s the victim of a bizarre and fiery form of terrorism targeting a synagogue in Paris and the unfair fate of the Muslim man who tries to help.  Maybe a bit risqué, but I intend to write it.
5. What do you see as the future of e-publishing? It differs even from “traditional” paper-based self-publishing as being a more ephemeral medium. Do you plan to publish your book in paper form, ever? Why or why not? What do you see as the advantages of e-publishing?

Confession: I don’t have an e-reader, and always buy paper copies of books!  And since I love that there are so many different reading options out there today, I do want to produce both a paper copy and an e-book of Veronica’s Nap to supplement the blog.   I’ve been looking into it, but haven’t made as much progress by now as I would have liked.  There are only so many hours in a day!

While I hope paper books will never go extinct and don’t think they will, I do see e-publishing as the mainstream of the future.  Just look at how quickly the world switched to reading and watching the news online.  And this is not a clock we can turn back: publishers will only be able to resist the tidal wave for so long.  E-books are cheaper to produce and are better for the planet.  They make great economic sense for books whose profit margins don’t absorb the costs of printing – and even for those that do.  They’re easier to publicize and distribute.  And with four times as many self-published books as traditionally published books in 2009 alone and those numbers growing, e-books are helping make writing into what it should be: something to share.

Sharon, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about your book and the future of the book business. As librarians this is a topic that has a big impact on us and the services we offer and will be offering into the future. Thank you for your insights, and best of luck with the book! Sharon is Vice President, Farrell Kramer Communications and Principal, Connaissance Media.

Posted in: Uncategorized
On Friday, January 28, please join us for our third and final installment of Facebook Friday in its trial run, with librarian extraordinaire and past AJL President Susan Dubin, who will answer questions on using general-interest books to teach Judaism and Jewish values.

The details:

Who: Susan Dubin, librarian and past AJL President

Where: AJL’s Facebook page here.

When: Friday, January 28 9am PST/12pm EST

What: A live Q&A chat on teaching Jewish values with general interest books.

You must “like” AJL on Facebook in order to participate. To ask questions, just use the “Status Update” tool.

Want more Facebook Friday? Want to be a guest host? Email Marie Cloutier at mcloutier at by the end of January.

Posted by Marie.
Here's this week's collection of links about libraries, Jewish libraries, librarianship and more, as well as some holiday links for Tu B'Shevat.

What Doesn't Kill You on Tu  B'Shevat, from TCJewfolk.

Eating Jewish: Recipes for a Tasty Tu B'Shevat table, from Jewesses with Attitude.

The Triangle Fire, in Couplets: Enter the Poetry Contest! from Tablet. This might be fun to share with your patrons as well!

Another 12 Technologies on the Verge of Extinction, from Stephen's Lighthouse. I'm not sure I agree with all of his choices, but it's thought-provoking. What do you think?

The Jewish Museum tells us about Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish and the Opening Night: 2011 New York Jewish Film Festival.

New Book on American Hebrew Literature, discussed at the Jewish Literary Review.

Searching 60 Million Pages of Canadian History, an article highlighting the Canadiana Discovery Portal, a new database of Canadian history sources. A search for the keyword "Jewish" brought up 10 pages of results!

That's it for this week. Email me at mcloutier at with feedback and suggestions. Have a great week.

Posted by Marie.
Posted in: Link Round-Up
When I sent out an email to AJL members asking for Tu B'Shevat resources for a blog post, I was overwhelmed by the responses.

AJL's Bibliography Bank has lots of resources, including two dedicated bibliographies just on Tu B'Shevat and lots of other suggestions mixed in with bibliographies on holidays and children's literature.

You can also search in AJL's fabulous Jewish ValuesFinder resource.

AJL Librarian Melinda Herman of the Beth-El Synagogue Center recommends A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry and Marc Simont, Zolkower's It's Tu B'Shevat, Gold-Vukson's Grandpa and Me on  Tu B'Shevat, The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco, Behold the Trees by Sue Alexander and Leonid Gore, and Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand by Arthur A. Levine and Robert Roth.

The Jewish Community Library of Greater New Haven responded with a link to their catalog, where you can find lots of great Tu B'Shevat materials. Click on "holidays" under EXPLORE.  Then click on Tu B'Shevat.

Publisher Kar-Ben sent me a link to their selection of Tu B'Shevat books.

AJL Librarian Basya Karp of the Shulamith High School and the Shulamith School for Girls says "Dear Tree by Doba Rivka Weber (Hachai Publishing) is a gem of a book in which a young boy expresses his wish that his favorite tree should always have what it needs to flourish."

AJL Librarian Natasha Krause of the Vancouver  Talmud Torah School likes The Giving Tree, Sammy Spider’s Tu B’Shevat and Grandpa and me on Tu B’Shevat by Marji Gold-Vukson.

AJL librarian Barbara Mende suggested Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree and Sylvia Rouss's Sammy Spider's Tu B'Shevat and It's Tu B'Shevat by Edie Stoltz Zolkower.

Jennifer Russell, an MLIS student in Ohio, says "I really enjoyed Behold the Trees by Sue Alexander (a history of the land of Israel focusing on the fate of the trees) for upper elementary readers (although it's in picture book format, it's a sophisticated narrative).  The illustrations, by Leonid Gore, are excellent. And there's always the picture book Solomon and the Trees, by Matt Biers-Ariel."

AJL librarian and kidlit guru Linda Silver created a bibliography, For the Trees, for the Greater Cleveland AJL's blog.

AJL Librarian Ellen Tilman of Meyers Library, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, says "We define Tu B'Shevat very broadly and include books about trees and the environment.  I am particularly fond of the two books about Wangari and her planting trees in Kenya. (Planting the Trees of Kenya and Wangari's Trees of Peace.)"

I also received a number of full-length bibliographies and shelflists that I wasn't able to include on a brief blog post but I encourage you all to visit your local synagogue or community-center library to check out their holdings- there's a lot of great stuff out there!

Feel free to leave a comment on this post with your favorite Tu B'Shevat books for children- or adults!

Posted by Marie.
jbcWelcome to the January edition of the Jewish Book Carnival, a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books can meet, read and comment on each others' posts.

The carnival was started by Heidi Estrin and Marie Cloutier to build community among bloggers and blogs who feature Jewish books. It will run every month on the 15th.

We're hosting this month, and we got a fantastic collection of links from our participants.

From Barbara Bietz comes Welcome Howard Schwartz- Gathering Sparks.

Boston Bibliophile has a review of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch.

Waste Not, Want Not comes from

The Fourth Musketeer brings Book Review: Threads and Flames, by Esther Friesener.

Leora of Here in HP gave us Scapegoat by Eli Amir: A Book Review.

Ilana-Davita sends Hush: A Short Book Review.

The Jewish Book Council blog sends two great links: 2010 National Jewish Book Award Announcement and JBC Bookshelf: First Edition.

Turning Numbers into People comes from the Jewish Journal.

The Jewish Publication Society offers Tu B'Shevat is Almost Here, So Get Ready to Plant Some Trees!

Review: An Italian Renaissance, Choosing Life in Canada: a review from JewWishes.

Ann Koffsky sent us two links this month: Reports of the Death of the Book Have Been Greatly Exaggerated for your consideration, and Snowman Coloring Pages, just for fun.

My Machberet has Richard Holbrooke's German War Photo-and Mine.

Needle in the Bookstacks sends us Treasures in the Library.

Rhapsody in Books offers a Review of Stronger than Iron: The Destruction of Vilna Jewry 1941-1945: An Eyewitness Account, by Mendel Balberyszski.

Sylvia Rouss has Everyone Loves Sammy!

Thanks to all our participants for these links. Please take some time to visit and comment on those that interest you- which I hope is all of them! Stay tuned to the Jewish Book Carnival home page for a schedule of upcoming Carnivals and email Heidi Estrin at if you'd like to participate!

The Jewish Book Carnival has a GoodReads page, where we host discussions and more. Whether or not you’re participating in the Carnival, we hope you’ll stop by, join and take part!

Posted by Marie.

Feel free to download and save the logo, and use it on your blogposts or sidebar. Please do not link directly to the picture.

The Jewish Book Carnival has a GoodReads page, where we host discussions and more. Whether or not you're participating, we hope you'll stop by, join and take part!
So many great links this week. So difficult to choose!

Stephen's Lighthouse offers his Predictions on the Future of Book Publishing.  What do you think?

The Greater Cleveland Chapter of AJL has an article by our very own Linda Silver called For the Trees, a list of recommended books for Tu B'Shevat. I'll have more Tu B'Shevat book lists next week. I was overwhelmed with the responses I got when I put out my call for ideas!

OnLion, the blog from Behrman House, offers Transformative Learning in the Religious School Classroom.

Yehuda Halevi, National Jewish Book Award Winner!, from Schocken Books.

A List to End All Lists! from the Jewish Publication Society.

The Jewish Literary Review has The Comic Torah: Reimagining a Very Good Book.

What's Your Favorite Yiddish Word? from the Yiddish Book Center.

Have a great week. Email me at mcloutier at with questions, feedback or suggestions.

Posted by Marie.
Posted in: Link Round-Up
Tomorrow, Wednesday January 12 will find AJL- and hopefully you- participating in its second Facebook Friday live chat on Facebook.

The details:

Who: Daniel Stuhlman, blogger and AJL librarian

Where: AJL's Facebook page here.

When: Wednesday, January 12 at 11amCST/12pmEST

What: A live Q&A chat on library marketing.

You must "like" AJL on Facebook in order to participate. To ask questions, just use the "Status Update" tool.

You can find a full transcript of last week's Facebook Friday chat with Ann Abrams of Temple Israel, Boston, here. Ann answered questions on running a synagogue library.

Want more Facebook Friday? Want to be a guest host? Email Marie Cloutier at mcloutier at by the end of January.

Music: "Conflict in the Middle Table" by Michael Stampler

Howard Schwartz and Kristina Swarner, author and illustrator of Gathering Sparks, Barry Deutsch, author and illustrator of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, and Dana Reinhardt, author of The Things a Brother Knows are the 2011 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Montreal this June.

Schwartz and Swarner will receive the 2011 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Younger Readers Category for Gathering Sparks, published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing. Both are second time winners. In 1992, Schwartz received the Sydney Taylor Book Award for The Diamond Tree: Jewish Tales from Around the World. Swarner earned the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award for her illustrations in The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Goodnight Book by Sarah Gershman.

Gathering Sparks is based on a sixteenth century teaching of “tikkun olam,” or “repairing the world.” Committee member Debbie Colodny commented, “Schwartz spins a calming tale that suggests that the way to bring peace and well-being to our world is by doing good deeds and loving

one another... Swarner’s art and Schwartz’s poetic words interpret the concept of the vessel as a fleet of ships outlined in the night sky by millions of starry points of light.”

Deutsch will receive the 2011 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers Category for Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams Books. This is the first graphic novel to win the Award. Committee member Aimee Lurie noted, “Mirka is a clever, headstrong and imaginative heroine who will appeal to a wide audience. Teens who feel like they don’t fit in will have no trouble relating to her balancing what is best for her family versus her desire to fight dragons. Grounded in her religious beliefs, she is willing to put her fantasies aside to celebrate Shabbat. The illustrations strike the perfect balance of showing a realistic Orthodox community, while creating the perfect backdrop for a fairytale.”

Reinhardt will receive the 2011 gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Teen Readers Category for The Things a Brother Knows, published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Levi’s older brother Boaz is a military hero, and Levi has always lived in his shadow. Now Boaz is returning from war and it seems everyone thinks Levi is the luckiest boy in town. When Boaz refuses to engage with his family and barely leaves his room, Levi wonders if his brother will ever be normal. Committee member Rita Soltan said, “Reinhardt creates a moving portrayal of teen characters … She provides balance through Levi and Boaz’s Israeli grandfather, who served in Israel and has experienced war and suicide bombings.  Realistic and subtle, her story unfolds with enough suspense, sardonic humor and pathos to keep readers focused until a conclusion that leaves room for pondering interpretation.”  In 2007, Reinhardt earned a Sydney Taylor Honor Award for A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life.

Nine Sydney Taylor Honor Books were named for 2011.  For Younger Readers, the Honor Award Winners are: Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner (EKS Publishing), Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser with illustrations by Claire A. Nivola (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children), and Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin with illustrations by Jaime Zollars (Marshall Cavendish Children). Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Older Readers include: Resistance by Carla Jablonski with art by Leland Purvis (First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group), One Is Not a Lonely Number by Evelyn Krieger (YM Books, an imprint of YALDAH Media, Inc.), and Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books). For Teen readers, the Honor Award Winners are: Hush by Eishes Chayil (Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing), Once by Morris Gleitzman (Henry Holt and Company), and Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman (Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.).

In addition to the medal-winners, the Award Committee designated twenty-seven Notable Books of Jewish Content for 2011: thirteen in the Younger Readers Category, seven in the Older Readers Category, and seven for Teens.  Notable titles, and more information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award, may be found online at

A blog tour, featuring interviews with winning authors and illustrators, will take place in early February, with participation from a wide range of children's literature, family interest, and Jewish blogs. The blog tour schedule will appear on the Association of Jewish Libraries' blog "People of the Books" at

# # #

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers:

Gathering Sparks by Howard Schwartz with illustrations by Kristina Swarner

(Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers:

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch

(Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams)

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers:

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

(Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Younger Readers:

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner

(EKS Publishing)

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser with illustrations by Claire A. Nivola

(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin with illustrations by Jaime Zollars

(Marshall Cavendish Children)

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Older Readers:

Resistance by Carla Jablonski with illustrations by Leland Purvis

(First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

One Is Not a Lonely Number by Evelyn Krieger

(YM Books, an imprint of YALDAH Media, Inc.)

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer

(Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winners for Teen Readers:

Hush by Eishes Chayil

(Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing)

Once by Morris Gleitzman

(Henry Holt and Company)

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

(Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.)

Notable Books for Younger Readers:

Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express by Deborah Bodin Cohen with illustrations by Shahar Kober

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Feivel's Flying Horses by Heidi Smith Hyde with illustrations by Johanna van der Sterre

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Miriam in the Desert by Jacqueline Jules with illustrations by Natascia Ugliano

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman with illustrations by Paul Meisel

(Holiday House)

Say Hello, Lily by Deborah Lakritz with illustrations by Martha Aviles

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Beautiful Yetta, The Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater with illustrations by Jill Pinkwater

(Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

A Tale of Two Seders by Mindy Avra Portnoy with illustrations by Valeria Cis

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Jackie's Gift by Sharon Robinson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis

(The Viking Press, an imprint of Penguin)

Zishe the Strong Man by Robert Rubenstein with illustrations by Woody Miller

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

Sara Finds a Mitzva by Rebeka Simhaee with illustrations by Michael Weber

(Hachai Publishing)

Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher by Laurel Snyder with illustrations by David Goldin

(Tricycle Press, an imprint of The Crown Trade Group/Random House)

The Rooster Prince of Breslov by Ann Stampler with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin

(Clarion, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Dear Tree by Doba Rivka Weber with illustrations by Phyllis Saroff

(Hachai Publishing)

Notable Books for Older Readers:

Is It Night or Day? by Fern Schumer Chapman

(Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

Kings and Carpenters: One Hundred Bible Land Jobs You Might Have Praised or Panned

by Laurie Coulter with illustrations by Mary Newbigging

(Annick Press)

Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon with illustrations by Craig Orback

(Kar-Ben, an imprint of Lerner)

The Orphan Rescue by Anne Dublin with illustrations by Qin Leng

(Second Story Press)

The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy

(Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group)

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp by Trisha Marx with photographs by Cindy Karp

(Lee & Low Books)

Mitzvah the Mutt by Sylvia Rouss with illustrations by Martha Rast

(Yaldah Publishing)

Notable Books for Teen Readers:

An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank by Elaine Marie Alphin

(Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner)

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser

(Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.)

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

(Hill and Wang)

Queen of Secrets by Jenny Meyerhoff

(Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan)

Under a Red Sky: Memoir of a Childhood in Communist Romania by Haya Leah Molnar

(Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan)

Cry of the Giraffe by Judie Oron

(Annick Press)
Welcome to 2011 and here we are yet again with our roundup of great links on libraries, librarianship, Jewish libraries, books, and more.

Don't Make It Easy For Them, this month's entry in ACRLog's monthly academic-librarian guest-post series.

Re-energize Your Students, from OnLion/Behrman House. This sounds fun!

From Booklist's Points of Reference blog, Subject Encyclopedias Dead or Alive is an interesting article in the context of Jewish libraries and the questions many of us face around collection development.

From the Jewish Literary Reviews comes an Interview with Bryna Kranzler, author of The Accidental Anarchist, the story of her grandfather in the early 1900s Russia.

The Yiddish Book Center asks, Which Yiddish Books Would You Like to See Translated? And it's not an idle question...

Are you going? London's Jewish Book Week, at the Jewish Book Council blog. Wow!

That's it for this week. Come back on Monday for the schedule of the remaining Facebook Friday Q&As in January and if you're reading this before 1pm EST don't forget to check out today's event at AJL's Facebook page starting at noon EST!

Contact me at mcloutier at or a leave a comment on this post with suggestions and feedback.

Posted by Marie.
Posted in: Link Round-Up
Ann Abrams, librarian at Temple Israel, Boston,  will answer questions for an hour starting at noon EST on the subject of running a small synagogue library. She has been the librarian at Temple Israel for a number of years and has a lot of expertise on this important subject.

Here are the details:

What: How to run a small synagogue library.

Who: Ann Abrams, librarian at Temple Israel, Boston.

When: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 12:00 noon EST.

Where: Log on to You must “like” the Association of Jewish Libraries to participate. (This link will take you to the AJL Facebook page.)

How: Ask questions by posting a status update (click on the Status button).

Come back on Monday to see the schedule for the second and third sessions coming up!
I did an informal survey of AJL librarians recently, asking them for their favorite Jewish books of 2010. They gave me some great responses! Here they are:

Barbara Bibel says her favorites are
Kenneth Wishnia. The Fifth Servant (Morrow)
Julie Orringer. The Invisible Bridge (Knopf/Random House)

Margot Lurie of Jewish Ideas Daily forwarded a link to an article by critic D.G. Myers, A Year in Books.

Gil Rosen, librarian at the Rabbi Marshall R. Lifson Library of Temple Emanuel in Newton Centre, MA lists his favorites, "in no particular order":

97 Orchard: an edible history of five immigrant families in one New York tenement by Jan Ziegelman. Cultural anthropology about food-educational and enlightening.

The kosher baker : over 160 dairy-free desserts from traditional to trendy by Paula Shoyer. An easy to use cookbook for both the amateur and expert baker.

The Settlers: and the struggle over the meaning of Zionism by Gadi Taub. This book, from a left-wing Israeli academic, was a real eye opener for me regarding the ideology behind settlements. I knew nothing about this subject.

Yehuda Halevi by Hillel Halkin. A short well written biography for laypeople about a person whose name we hear a lot but do not know much about.

Jackie’s Gift by Sharon Robinson 1) is a wonderful Hanukkah story about tolerance and 2) acquaints a new generation with a Jackie Robinson.

Hereville: How Mirka got her sword by Barry Deutsch. Great book-I hope it wins awards.

Beautiful Yetta by Daniel Pinkwater. A real favorite of my readers,  both funny and lovely to look at. Trilingual too!

How to understand Israel in 60 days or less by Sarah Glidden. Expressive of Sarah’s uncertainty through both text and illustration. The drawings take me back to Israel. Another book that should win awards.

Enid Sperber, librarian at Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles says,
"I would like to submit the stunning novel Homesick by Eshkol Nevo as one of my favorite books of this year.  It is an Israeli book in translation published as part of a new Hebrew Literature series by Dalkey Press.  It is a "kaleidoscopic" novel about a group of the people living in a community called Ma'oz Zion just outside of Jerusalem in 1995. The writer makes it possible for the reader to inhabit  each character in a very unusual way and the overall portrait of the contemporary Israeli psyche is compelling."

Tsipi Wexler, librarian at Henry Koor Judaica Library and librarian, Orot Yisrael College, recommends
From the Four Winds, by Haim Sabato

On Twitter, @JewishLibraries followers chimed in too.  Author Laurel Snyder (@LaurelSnyder) seconds Hereville, editor David Levy (@itsdlevy) also liked Sarah Glidden's How to Understand Israel in 60 Days and liked Sarah Silverman's Bedwetter, and author Carol Gordon Ekster (@cekster) liked Richard Michelson's As Good As Anybody.

Thanks to all who submitted favorites! It's quite a list!

What are your favorite Jewish books of 2010? Leave a comment and let us know!
Posted by Marie.

Posted in: News
On Friday, January 8, AJL librarian Ann Abrams joined us for a Q&A on running a synagogue library:

Question 1: Association of Jewish Libraries I don’t know if I can log on at noon for FB Friday, so I’m posting a question early. Ann, can you talk a bit about how a synagogue library can successfully compete for attention with all the other projects and activities going on within the synagogue? Thanks.

Association of Jewish Libraries Marie says, thanks for asking, Heidi! Ann will be here soon.

Ann Abrams When I was in library school, one comment a professor made, in particular, that stayed with me, was, to make ourselves be, as much as possible, indispensable to an institution. In those days, the example he gave was, if a professor asked for a copy of something, don’t just leave it in their box, but deliver it to thei…r office. I’ve tried to do that in different ways: by trying to anticipate requests by clergy, staff, faculty and congregants; building relationships with everyone I deal with; and trying to stay current on what’s going on in the library world, re: the programs I bring to the synagogue.

Ann Abrams Also, to more adquately respond to Heidi’s earlier question, I have an annual Jewish Book Month Program, which, very fortunately, was endowed 16 years ago. We bring in an author on a Friday evening or Sunday morning, have a nice oneg and book signing. It’s sponsored by the library committee, and I run it, so it keep…s us in the limelight, if you will. I try to be careful to not have our book group and other programs conflict with others, so folks don’t have to choose between one good thind and another.

Question 2: Amy Fellner Dominy Hi Ann. As an author, I’m wondering how you decide what books to carry in your library? I’m guessing your funds are limited…

Ann Abrams Most libraries have collection development policies, that guide us in making decisions about what to purchase. In my case, I try to purchase material that supports the school and adult learning programs of our synagogue, as well as materials for pleasure reading as well. in the last few years, my budget has shrunk quite a bit, like in most libraries, and so, unfortunately, I often am not able to get everything that would fit into those categories I just mentioned.

Daniel Stuhlman To answer Amy — All libraries purchase materials that will serve their readers. Schools try to select materials that support the curriculum. All libraries try to purchase quality materials.

Amy Fellner Dominy Thanks Daniel. I do wonder how synagogue librarians get information on upcoming books? Is it through the same catalogs as other libraries or are their special methods to find books with Jewish themes and content?

Daniel Stuhlman Acquisitions is an interesting challenge because no library has the money to purchase all they want. They are limited by budget, space and time. Gifts are a mixed blessing — the library gets materials that they did not fully selection to acquire. Ann, how do you deal with the challenges?

Ann Abrams At our library, we look at the NY Times Book Review, Library Journal, and of course, the AJL newsletter. We also look at whatever online or hard-copy Jewish journals have book reviews. I also look at blogs by folks who review Jewish books, including Boston Bibliophile, by our own AJL member Marie Cloutier.

Amy Fellner Dominy Wonderful information! Thanks. :-)

Ann Abrams Also, if there’s a publisher that I’ve purchased many materials from, I’ll look at their catalog. But, generally, I like to see at least one positive review (and not an Amazon review by a fan, but a review in a publication) before purchasing an item, unless I’ve read the book, or seen the film, myself.

Question 3: Sheryl Stahl Hi Ann! I was wondering if you run any book clubs? and if so, how they work out.

Sheryl Stahl I guess I should have added that our congregation has a monthly book club as well as a yearly “everyone read the same book” program – but they are run through the ed. committees and not the library.

Ann Abrams Re: Sheryl’s question, about book clubs. I do run a book club, along with our Women of Reform Judaism (formerly Sisterhood). It is monthly, and I learned quickly not to plan too many titles ahead of time, as the folks in my group often would come across something they really liked, and so, now at each meeting, I anno…unce the book for the following month (as opposed to what I tried in the beginning, of creating a year-long list of titles) We’ve read a lot of the same things other Jewish clubs have read (from what I see on the AJL website of bookgroup lists), and we try to pick something that has at least some Jewish content (although some folks don’t feel strongly about that), and is a good read. We get 7-10 folks a week, mostly women, 70 and up, and the discussions are always lively.

Question 4: Joyce Levine Hi Ann, Thanks for doing this exciting Q&A Facebook blog. I wonder if you could answer question recently posted on Hasafran by a JCC librarian. Do you circulate e-books at all? It was pointed out that in many institutions people are not as interested in borrowing books or even consulting the reference section as much sin…ce they do so much online nowadays.

Ann Abrams Hi, Joyce. We don’t have e-books, yet, but it’s something I’m looking into, and am following, with interest, discussions about them. If anyone else has experience with this, please chime in!

Joyce Levine Maybe someone could run at session about e-books at Convention. We would all love to learn more. If any of you out there are knowledgeable and would be willing to do this, please let me know.

Question 5: Joyce Levine I got burnt recently by accepting a rather large donation suggested by a Board member. Most of the books were unsuitable for our school library. I generally try to visit the home of the potential donor and just pick out what I want, which does not cause any “disposal” problems of unwanted materials.

Ann Abrams One of the most important documents every library should have, which was conveyed to me by a colleague a long time ago (I think at an AJL convention), is a gifts policy. Our gifts policy states that we have the right of refusal. It is stated more politely than that, but, that way, we can say, “Thank you for thinking …of us…if there’s something here we can add to our collection, we will, but, if not, we’re happy to try to find homes for the material if you’re agreeable to that.” As a result, we are able to get quite a few very good materials for our collection; and, I’m lucky to have assistants to help type up lists of the rest, so I can offer them to our clergy, staff, teachers, and other libraries.

Ann Abrams Re: book donations and Joyce’s comment, my observation is that most folks just can’t bear the thought of throwing books away, and are just happy to have someone take them. What Joyce says she does is very smart because, unfortunately, sometimes donations of old books can bring mildew, mold, bugs… other things we do…n’t want in our library. So, I agree, if it’s possible to go to the home, and take what you want – that’s a great way to avoid problems.

Ann Abrams Something I’m dealing with right now is what to do with really old books – not books that an appraiser would say are rare – but, books on Jewish topics that happen to have been written in the 1800?s and early 1900?s. I’m wondering what other folks with these types of books do with them, if, anything different than hav…ing them on the shelf? I just posted to hasafran on this, too.

Daniel Stuhlman Ann, concerning old books — it depends on your collection development policy. In my studies I need old books. I can’t expect my synagogue library to have them because they don’t have the room. Since most library users want the latest and greatest, it would be best if the collection could have a segregated stacks for older materials.

Sheryl Stahl we ended up weeding most of our old books too – we had a pretty successful book sale with them.

Ann Abrams In terms of the limits you mention, Daniel, I think I do the best I can, like everyone else. I try to prioritize, and, in the age of the Internet, I can, at least, say to folks, “We don’t have this item, but I can try to find it for you, elsewhere.”

Ann Abrams I agree a session about e-books sounds like a good idea! And thanks to Daniel and Sheryl for your comments and suggestions about what to do with old books.

Question 6: Lan Eng Ann, besides dealing with members, how do you work with the other constituent groups at your synagogue. Specifically, how do you work with your rabbis, religious school director and other staff members? Do you have regular meetings with them?

Ann Abrams Hi, Lan, thanks for your question. My position is part of the Education dept, so the Education director (same as Religious School Director) is my supervisor. The Educ dept has monthly meetings, and the other folks in this group are: the Director of Elementary Education, Family Educator, Youth Director, and the Assist…ant to the Educ. Director. We also have monthl all-staff meetings which I attend. But, I have interactions with everyone on the staff: the clergy often ask me for help finding materials, or creating resource lists for life cycle events; I send emails to all the staff re: things that I think might be of interest, for example, that they all have access to electronic resources.

Ann Abrams Many of the members of the staff use the library for their pleasure reading. The rabbis lead a weekly torah study group, and often use the library for preparation. The library is fortunately in the center of the building, so I can easily walk around to see folks, and be seen, to encourage casual conversation. I’ve be…en at the temple for over 20 years, and so I can sometimes anticipate what folks might want for annual programs, and will send it to them before they ask.

Question 7: Joyce Levine I know this is a pretty big topic and sorry to raise it at the last minute, but I was wondering if you run your own fundraising events and if so, what kinds? Or does your synagogue totally fund the library?

Ann Abrams My book, film, cd and other library material budget is completely from donations, in the form of “book shelves,” which are really book funds. I have an annual book fair, and make approx $600 a year from that. That’s all I have at the moment. I have an email list of library supporters and occasionally let them know …what’s going on so they can see where their money’s going. The temple has a development director and I sometimes chat with her about ways to raise revenue.

Joyce Levine Thank you. I hope to continue this conversation at a future time. Shabbat shalom!

Association of Jewish Libraries Ann, thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions in AJL’s inaugural Facebook Friday! And thanks to everyone who participated!
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