Jun 25, 2012

Have an Imagination Vacation - Top 5 Books about Visiting Israel

Don’t have time or money to travel a long way this summer? Take an imagination vacation instead and explore all that makes Israel a special place.

5. Zvuvi’s Israel - With clever text and colorful pictures, Zvuvi takes the reader on a tour of Israel, buzzing through the modern cities, ancient ruins and nature preserves of the country, from north to south. Children can search for him hiding on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, in the salty waters of the Dead Sea, and among the models in the Mini-Israel theme park. Zvuvi has a blog…check it out!

4. Dinosaur Goes to Israel - Dino’s (Dinosaur on Hanukkah, Dinosaur on Passover, Dinosaur on Shabbat) adventures continue as he boards a plane for Israel. He munches on falafel, tucks a message high up on the Western Wall, and invites a friendly camel to go snorkeling in Eilat. Kids will chuckle at his comic escapades as a tourist.

3. Let’s Visit Israel - This board book highlights the many ways one can tour Israel-by Jeep, cable car, bus, camel, and foot. This simple book, with bright illustrations, is a perfect introduction to Israel for very young children. 

2. Ella’s Trip to Israel - Young Ella and her stuffed monkey take a trip to Israel with her family! Ella enjoys visiting the country's famous sites, while Koofi the monkey experiences Israel in his own surprising and endearing way!

Sammy Spider’s First Trip to Israel and Sammy Spider’s Israel Fun Book – the curious spider stows away and explores Israel with Josh and the Shapiros.
Free Activities: Download sample pages from Sammy Spider's Israel Fun Book! 

Jun 19, 2012

Stories Inspired By Real-Life Objects

We've got heavy rain, soaked ground and high humidity here in Minnesota. It is not a day to go outside and play. I imagine kids will be lurking around the house looking for something to do. Create a story challenge. Ask your child to write a story (or if they are too young, to draw you a story) inspired by an object in your home. Teach creative thinking by asking your child to carefully observe each room and its contents and to select three possible items. Then discuss the possibilities of each and help the child be enthusiastic about one item. Then, set them to work at the kitchen table or desk with paper and pencils and wait for genius to arrive. Inside the imagination is a great place to play.

Need a bit of inspiration? Grandma Rose's Magic, the latest book by Linda Elovitz Marshall (who also wrote the charming Talia and the Rude Vegetables and has another book, The Mitzvah Magician, forthcoming this fall) is inspired by a real-life object.

The story focuses on Grandma Rose, a skilled seamstress. She creates garments and goods for her customers, and saves the money she earns to purchase dishes she admires in the big downtown department store. But, when she has earned enough, the dishes are gone! To her surprise, she does receive the beautiful dishes that look just like the ones her grandma had, but not in the way she expected!

Grandma Rose's Magic is special, but even more so when you know it is inspired by a real set of dishes. Here is a picture, courtesy of the author!

What object would you write a story about?

Jun 12, 2012

Get to Know Author Eric Kimmel

Photo provided by Eric Kimmel
Kar-Ben author Eric A. Kimmel has been writing for children for over 40 years. His more than 100 titles include such classics as Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, The Chanukkah Guest and Joseph and the Sabbath Fish. A native New Yorker, he now lives in Portland, Oregon. His hobbies include playing bluegrass banjo, riding horses and bicycles, and caring for his tropical fish, two cats, and pet snake. Visit Eric's website and hear him read his latest Kar-Ben book.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?  Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Treasure Island.

What’s your favorite line from a book? “One more step, Mr. Hands, and I’ll blow your brains out. Dead men don’t bite, you know.” Treasure Island

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
Robert Louis Stevenson, Howard Pyle, Rudyard Kipling

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator? I grew up loving books and stories. No other career seemed as exciting as one involving books.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators? Persistence is what counts, not talent.
Where did you get the inspiration for Joseph and the Sabbath Fish?
It’s an old Jewish legend that I always enjoyed. I love retelling tales that I loved as a child.
What is the most interesting thing you learned in the process of writing Joseph and the Sabbath Fish?
How the same story can be found in different cultures all around the world. There are many tales about a supposedly luckless character who finds his fortune in a fish.

How do you hope Joseph and the Sabbath Fish will impact the Jewish life of a child? I hope that it will inspire children to never give up hope or surrender their ideals. You’re never defeated until you say you are.

What are some fun facts about you? I was multi-lingual as a child. I spoke Yiddish with my grandma; Hebrew at Hebrew School; French and Spanish in high school. I can fake German and Italian. In other words, I speak several languages badly.

Anything else you would like to share with readers? I enjoy learning yo-yo tricks. I like to go white water rafting. I want to learn how to handle a kayak. I wish I had my own horse. I love sitting in front of my computer, practicing my banjo.

Joseph and the Sabbath Fish
by Eric A. Kimmel
illustrated by Martina Peluso

A Sydney Taylor Notable Book

Joseph always welcomes guests to his Sabbath table, while his greedy neighbor Judah scoffs at Joseph’s generosity. Even as his fortunes decline, Joseph’s door remains open. But times change and Judah turns to his Joseph for help. A very special fish helps Joseph save the day.

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5909-8
Ages 5-9, Grades K-3
32 pages, 10 5/8 x 8 7/8

Jun 11, 2012

Plan an Archaeological Dig In a Sandbox Near You!

Reading books can inspire imagination, and can even become the basis for creative programming to bring the ideas in books to life. Inspired by Jodie's First Dig, the PJ Library organization in Pittsburgh created an archaelogical dig event that had hundreds of kids digging in a giant sandbox, singing about digging up artifacts and having a wonderful time.

How much fun would this activity be for a summer day camp? Or, file it away for Yom Ha'Atzmaut next year, to go along with lessons about Israel's history and geography.