Jan 26, 2012

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: History Through Children's Literature

In November 2005, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution introduced by Israel that designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The assembly did so to urge the nations of the world to observe the day so future generations would be spared from history repeating itself.

This year the special theme of “Children and the Holocaust” is the focus of the international observance, with events and programs about the experiences of children. Introducing children to the history of the Holocaust can be challenging, but sharing material that they can most easily relate to—stories about children, families or pets—can be a thoughtful, gentler way to educate young and innocent readers who would have a difficult time conceptualizing the magnitude and brutality of the Holocaust.
As a publisher of Jewish literature for children, Kar-Ben has created books and educational materials (for use by parents or teachers) that can serve as a bridge for children learning about the Holocaust.

Marcel Marceau Master of Mime is a picture book that shares the remarkable early life of the famous mime. From the time he was five, young Marcel, the son of a kosher butcher, wanted to be a performer like his idol Charlie Chaplin. However, World War II intervened and Europe became a very dangerous place for a Jewish teenager like Marcel. Joining the French Resistance, he risked his life to help save the lives of French children, smuggling them across the border into Switzerland. Download the free eSource Guide that accompanies this book.

Benno and the Night of Broken Glass deftly describes Kristallnacht and its aftermath from the perspective of a neighborhood cat. Benno was the neighborhood’s favorite cat. During the week, he napped in a sunny corner of Mitzi Stein’s dress shop, and begged scraps from Moshe the Butcher. He spent Shabbat evenings with Sophie Adler’s family in Apartment 3B. But one night the Nazis came to Berlin. Windows were shattered, books were burned, and Benno’s Jewish friends disappeared. Life would never be the same. Download the free eSource Guide that accompanies this book.

Janusz Korczak's Children: In the years between WWI and WWII, young Henryk Goldszmidt dreamed of creating a better world for children. As an adult, using the pen name Janusz Korczak, he became a writer, doctor, and an enlightened leader in the field of education, unaware to what use his skills were destined to be put.  Dr. Korczak established a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw where he introduced the world to his progressive ideas in child development and children’s rights. When the Nazis occupy Warsaw, the orphanage is moved to the ghetto, and when the 200 children in his care are deported, Dr. Korczak famously refuses to be saved, marching with his charges to the train that will take them to their deaths. Download the free eSource Guide that accompanies this book.

Who Do You Honor On Holocaust Remembrance Day?

This year Yad Vashem has created a special online "I Honor" event on their Facebook Page to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The virtual event connects people through Facebook to the name and story of a Righteous Among the Nations. People can also post to the Facebook wall and share the names of people they honor, well-known figures like Irena Sendler and others who may not have name recognition but whose intervention literally meant life and death for Jewish people attempting to escape Nazi persecution.

Remarkable courage by ordinary people is what was--and still is-- required to do the right thing in the face of injustice. A Kar-Ben book, Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime, recently named a National Jewish Book Award Finalist and Sydney Taylor Notable Book, honors the little known biography of the famed mime Marcel Marceau. Originally born Marcel Mangel, the son of a kosher butcher, he survived the Nazi occupation and actively aided others as a member of the French Resistance. A talented artist, he forged documents to make children appear younger than they were. He also led children across the border into Switzerland several times, posing as scout troops pretending to be on their way to camp. After Paris was liberated from the Nazis, Marcel joined the Free French Army and served as a liaison to the U.S. forces under General George Patton, all while holding fast to his dream to be a performer.

This International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with its focus on children in the Holocaust, we honor all those to acted righteously, for the reasons Marcel himself once explained:

“Among those kids [killed at Auschwitz] was maybe an Einstein, a Mozart, somebody who [would have] found a cancer drug. That is why we have a great responsibility. Let us love one another.”

Who do you honor on International Holocaust Remembrance Day?

Jan 25, 2012

Should Kids Read Less or Just Do More?

The headline “Why I Want My Kids to Read Less” is a provocative one, and the title of Alina Adams’ piece today at Raising Kvell. In her article she outlines that reading offers a mostly passive, vicarious experience, very different to the active play that she enjoyed watching her son engaged in before he “got sucked into the crack pipe that is children’s literature.”

Maybe a happy medium can be achieved by doing activities that reinforce the reading that captivates the imagination. Books can be made into skits and cartoons, dioramas and finger puppet shows. Books’ content can serve as inspiration for related activities that get kids out of the world of the mind and into the social world, meeting new people and learning about new things and themselves.
Here are some ideas:
Barnyard Purim tells the story of a group of animals who decide to stage their own Purim shpiel, with somewhat disastrous but hilarious results. Read the book and then visit a farm or petting zoo. A very cool place to visit is Superstition Farm in Mesa, Arizona.

Say Hello, Lily is about a little girl shyly joining her mother as she volunteers at Shalom House. Overwhelmed at first, Lily eventually makes friends with the residents and is part of a special party. Visit a nursing home in your city and share time with elders. See if there is actually a Shalom House in your area: Google Search of Shalom House.

Read Sammy Spider’s Tu B’Shevat and be inspired by another of Sammy’s learning adventures to have one of your own. Go for a walking tour of your neighborhood and snap pictures of different trees. Or, visit an arboretum and ask questions about different types of plants and trees, plus how spiders make trees their habitats. Find a list of arboretums and public gardens here.   

Jan 19, 2012

Congratulations Sydney Taylor Award Winners!

Several Kar-Ben books have been named Sydney Taylor Notable Books for Younger Readers by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The complete list of winners and honor books can be found here:

Picnic at Camp Shalom by Jacqueline Jules

Joseph and Sabbath Fish by Eric Kimmel

Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast by Jamie Korngold

The Shabbat Princess by Amy Meltzer

The Littlest Mountain by Barb Rosenstock

Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime by Gloria Spielman

Congratulations to all award winners!

Jan 17, 2012

In the Artist's Studio: Barnyard Purim In Progress

Illustrator Barbara Johansen Newman recently wrote on her blog "Design Rocket' about how she enjoys looking at the studio spaces of artists and creative people.

She invited us into her studio to get a look at a new Kar-Ben book, Barnyard Purim, which she illustrated, in progress.

The book is about a group of farm animals who decide to stage a Purim shpiel. Barbara perfectly captures the whimsy of this premise!

Thanks for the tour!

Barbara paints with acrylics on 140 lb watercolor paper.

It is easy to forget that children's books are works of art, usually paintings or drawings.

You can see the animals on the farm!

The amount of work that goes into making a picture book is incredible!

Even more pictures! See the sneaky villain at the bottom right?

Here the whole Purim shpiel goes comically awry!

Real people make real art that becomes real books!

Jan 11, 2012

Miep Gies and Notebooks that Would Change History

Today is the second anniversary of the death of Miep Gies, one of the group of people who helped hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis and others during World War II. Gies was Otto Frank's secretary, and she risked her own safety many times smuggling food and supplies to the family in their secret apartment.

Also remarkable is Gies' role in bringing The Diary of Anne Frank to the world. After the family was discovered, Gies went to the apartment to collect important belongings. She collected Anne's writings and preserved them--without reading them to protect Anne's privacy. Could you imagine if she hadn't made that decision?

Learn more about the lives of Anne Frank and Miep Gies in Anne Frank by Laura Hamilton Waxman
This biography from Lerner Publishing's "History Maker" series tells the famous story of Anne's life from her Dutch childhood through her death in Bergen-Belsen. Color photos and illustrations and an engaging, accessible text make this book a great fit for middle school readers.

ISBN: 978-0-7613-4221-2; Ages 8-12, Grades 3-6; 48 pages, 6 x 8 1/2

Jan 5, 2012

Trying to Eat Better in 2012? Eat Biblically!

Made a resolution to eat better? Get a side dish of Bible stories as you try new recipes from Tasty Bible Stories: A Menu of Tales and Matching Recipes by Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Here's a recipe from the book to get you started eating lots of veggies!

Spicy Cucumber and Garlic Salad

4 servings

3 large cucumbers, unpeeled
3 garlic cloves
1 small hot red pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Step-by-Step Preparation
1. Cut the cucumbers into small cubes. Place in a jar.
2. Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Add them to the jar.
3. Cut open the hot pepper (you may want to wear gloves) and remove the seeds. Finely chop the pepper, and add to the jar.
4. Pour the oil into the jar. Cover and shake. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve cold.

Get a copy of the book.

Jan 3, 2012

Kids Jump to Amazing Heights!

Bringing a picture book author to visit with children is a special experience, but author Ellen Bari makes it all the more special with her message of jumping for good.

Bari, author of Jumping Jenny, a book about a girl teased for her love of jumping who eventually inspires her community by creating a Jump-a-thon to raise funds for a sister school in Uganda, recently visited the Sid Jacobson JCC. The Early Childhood education programs 2, 3, and 4 year olds listened to the story and colored cut-outs of the main character, but they became inspired by the story to do even more: they created their very own Jump-a-thon!
According to Elyse Ingber, the director of performance and visual arts at the Sid Jacobson JCC, "On November 30, parents and friends sponsored children at both the JCC and Brookville campus Bernice Jacobson Day School & Camp for a penny a jump in honor of an Early Childhood Center teacher who was recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer. In total, the center jumped 8,812 times and raised over $2,000 for the Colon Cancer Alliance."

Great job, jumpers!