Children's & teen literature

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Judaic Audio Lectures, Panel Discussions, Author Talks, Workshops & More

The AJL Podcast brings you the best talks on Jewish literature and the Jewish library world, with respected experts and popular authors. Please check back periodically, as new lectures will be added to the series.

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Children's & teen literature

The ways that women have been portrayed in comics during the past 75 years has led to criticism by fans, scholars, and creators in the industry. At one extreme, there are unrealistic superwomen who are shown being able to juggle both their career and their household, while still finding time to use their superpowers to save the world time and again. At the other extreme are women characters who are victimized, brutalized, and/or sexualized to a greater extent than their male counterparts. Although Jewish women characters are a minority in the comix genre, dozens of examples of such characters may be found. This session highlights several examples of such characters from various comix genres (e.g. Bibllical, superhero, biographical, war, graphic fiction, travelogues) and illustrate what types of values these characters embody.

NOTE: At the end of this recording, speaker Steven Bergson mentions the following speaker, Barry Deutsch, author of Hereville, whose presentation may be found here.

For the visuals from this presentation, please visit http://jewishwomenincomix.blogspot.com.

Presented by Steven Bergson at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

27 min 51 sec

Monique Polak discusses her novel What World Is Left, a work of historical fiction based on her mother's experience as a teenager in Theresienstadt. Polak will discuss the sad secret that lies at the heart of her novel: that the father of her young protagonist, Anneke, has been forced by the Nazis to produce propaganda drawings. Anneke will grapple with this revelation and it is this moral dilemma that helps to make Polak's novel resonate with contemporary tweens and teens. Polak will also explain the personal journey she undertook to produce this novel, as well as the delicate task of melding fact and fiction, especially when exploring a subject as painful and important as the Holocaust.

Presented by Monique Polak at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

24 min 08 sec

Authors Margie Gelbwasser and Sarar Darer Littman have both written novels which feature characters struggling with their Jewish identity within the constructs of the everyday life of today's teens. This panel explores the portrayal of Judaism in middle grade and YA fiction, using both past and contemporary examples.

Presented by Margie Gelbwasser and Sarah Darer Littman at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

27 min 03 sec

It is not unheard of for a webcomic to be published in a print edition (e.g. the Eisner award-winning Cancer Mom). It is not unprecedented for a graphic novel to be published which features a young Jewish girl (e.g. Token). However, it is rare to find a graphic novel that stars an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl who aspires to fight dragons. Author-illustrator Barry Deutsch discusses his literary influences, the experience of self-publishing a serialized webcomic, the process of creating Hereville, and future plans for Hereville - a book described by School Library Journal blogger Elizabeth Bird as "the best graphic novel of 2010 for kids. Bar none."

Presented by Barry Deutsch at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

30 min

Joni Sussman of Kar-Ben Books led this panel of authors for ounger readers who represent a wide range of contemporary Jewish experience. The authors shared their own understanding of how "Jewish" informs their writing and introduced us to their latest titles.

Presented by Joni Sussman, Anna Levine, Alan Silberberg and Sara Mlynowski at the 2011 AJL Convention in Montreal, Quebec.

1 hr 19 min 19 sec

At each year’s AJL convention, members of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee participate in a panel presentation to discuss the best and worst of recent Jewish literature for children and teens. In this podcast, you can hear members Susan Berson, Barbara Bietz, Kathy Bloomfield, Debbie Colodny, and Kathe Pinchuck sharing their delight and dismay over juvenile Judaica published during 2009, reviewed while seeking the winners of the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award.

This panel was presented at the 2010 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Seattle, WA

1 hr 38 min 53 sec

A panel of experienced book reviewers share their views on the craft of constructing a useful review, on differences between reviewing for children and or adults, on unique issues in reviewing Judaica, and more.

Presented by Ellen Cole, Heidi Estrin, Kathe Pinchuck, and Lisa Silverman at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

1 hr 29 min 53 sec

Author Margarita Engle won the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Teen Readers category for Tropical Secrets. She had the opportunity to present her book to an appreciative audience at the 2010 Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention in Seattle, WA.

29 min 47 sec

Author April Halprin Wayland won the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers category for New Year at the Pier. She had the opportunity to present her book to an appreciative audience at the 2010 Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention in Seattle, WA.

35 min 01 sec

Author Robin Friedman won the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Older Readers category for The Importance of Wings. She had the opportunity to present her book to an appreciative audience at the 2010 Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention in Seattle, WA.

11 min 05 sec

What are teens reading these days? Are there any good YA books with Jewish content? How do I build my teen collection? How do I attract teens to my library? What do I do with them once they come? Explore the answers to these questions and more as we discuss current trends in secular and Jewish young adult literature, outreach strategies and opportunities, and ideas for cool teen programs.

Related material at http://www.jeninelillian.com/ and http://www.jewishlibraries.org/ajlweb/resources/bib_bank/contemporary_fiction_for_teens.pdf

Presented by Jenine Lillian and Rachel Kamin at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

1 hr 00 min 02 sec

AJL’s 2011 Western Regional Conference on Jewish Literature for Children revolved around the theme of graphic litrature. The event was held April 3, 2011 at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, CA.

Featured Speakers:

Sid Jacobson was editor in chief at Harvey Comics, where he created Richie Rich, and was the executive editor at Marvel Comics. His collaborations with illustrator Ernie Colon include the fascinating 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation, and the new illustrated biography of Anne Frank entitled, Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography.

William J. Rubin is the executive editor of Nachshon Press and the chief architect of the National Jewish Book Award winner, Homeland: The Illustrated History of the State of Israel.

Barry Deutsch is the 2011 Sydney Taylor Award winner for Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword.

Anastasia Betts is a well-known education professional with an expertise in graphic literature.

1 hr 27 min 52 sec

With the new American Girl series, Rebecca Rubin, author Jacqueline Dembar Greene researched Ashkenazi Russian Jewish immigrant life in New York City during the early 1900s. Her picture book, The Secret Shofar of Barcelona, and her classic novels, Out of Many Waters and One Foot Ashore, draw on Sephardic history. Ms. Greene will talk about how the different historical events were turned into fiction for young readers, and how the books introduce readers to Jewish history.

Presented by Jacqueline Dembar Greene at the 2010 AJL Convention in Seattle, WA.

47 min 21 sec

Above: L-R Jacqueline Jules, Robin Friedman, Margarita Engle, April Halprin Wayland

Below: L-R Joan Schoettler with STMA committee chair Aileen Grossberg

The Sydney Taylor Book and Manuscript Awards are sponsored by Jo Taylor Marshall. The 2010 winners were honored at the Awards Banquet at the 45th annual AJL Convention in Seattle, WA on July 6, 2010. The winners are:

Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers: New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story by April Halprin Wayland, with illustrations by Stéphane Jorish

Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Older Readers: The Importance of Wings by Robin Friedman

Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Teen Readers: Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle

Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Winner: On the Run by Joan Schoettler

NOTE: Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category, Jacqueline Jules (Benjamin and the Silver Goblet) was present at the banquet and was also acknowledged at that time.

32 min 46 sec

Once upon a time there were librarians who could really make Jewish stories come alive for the yeladim (children) in their libraries; they could “lift the story off the page.” They could read books as well as tell stories with skill, passion and joy, making children want to read and learn MORE. This workshop, presented by storyteller Susan Stone, has the happy ending of bringing these joyful skills to your own library!

1 hr 10 min 16 sec

Presented at the 2009 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Chicago, IL by Anna Levine, author of numerous Jewish books for children and teens, including the 2009 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers, Freefall, and the 2009 Notable Book for Younger Readers, Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig.

44 min 47 sec

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series.

April Halprin Wayland and Stephane Jorisch, author and illustrator of New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story, Robin Friedman, author of The Importance of Wings, and Margarita Engle, author of Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba, are the 2010 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award.

The winners were revealed at the 2010 council meeting of the Association of Jewish Libraries in January, 2010 in Manhattan, NY. Awards chair Kathe Pinchuck made the official announcement, and then shared her thoughts on this year’s winners.

Click here for the press release about the 2010 winners.

Click here for the complete list of 2010 awards, honors, and notable books.

17 min 02 sec

Tags: Awards

At each year’s AJL convention, members of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee participate in a panel presentation to discuss the best and worst of recent Jewish literature for children and teens. In this podcast, you can hear members Susan Berson, Barbara Bietz, Kathy Bloomfield, Debbie Colodny, Rachel Kamin, and Kathe Pinchuck sharing their delight and dismay over juvenile Judaica published during 2008, reviewed while seeking the winners of the 2009 Sydney Taylor Book Award.

This panel was presented at the 2009 Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Chicago, IL.

1 hr 33 min 02 sec

Author Richard Michelson and illustrator Raul Colon won the 2009 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Younger Readers category for As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom. They had the opportunity to present their book to an appreciative audience at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on July 7, 2009 in Chicago, IL.

46 min 30 sec

Author Karen Hesse won the 2009 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Older Readers category for Brooklyn Bridge. She had the opportunity to present her book to an appreciative audience at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention on July 7, 2009 in Chicago, IL.

29 min 10 sec


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