Aug 4, 2014

August Book of the Month: Goldie Takes a Stand

This month, Kar-Ben is thrilled to introduce a new feature on our website and Facebook: the Kar-Ben Book of the Month! Each month, we're going to feature a book from our current season that we think is particularly relevant, interesting, or exciting. Each book of the month will come with a guest blog post from the author and a book trailer, as well as additional information on why we love the book!

Our first featured Book of the Month is Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir's First Crusade by Barbara Krasner. Even at the age of nine, little Golda Meir was known for her leadership skills. As president of the American Young Sisters Society, she organized friends to raise money to buy textbooks for immigrant classmates. This story is a glimpse at the early life of Israel's first female Prime Minister.

We love this book because it has an empowering and compassionate message for children. Goldie notices the needs of her classmates, and isn't daunted by the setbacks she faces when trying to solve that problem. It's also a great story, based on true events, about Israel's first female Prime Minister! Pick up a copy here.

Writing about Golda Meir’s early days in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

a guest post from Barbara Krasner

In August 2010, I was spending two weeks at a writers retreat at the Highlights Foundation in Pennsylvania. There was a slight break between the two weeks over a weekend. On that Sunday, I was invited as press to attend the annual reading of the Moses Seixas and George Washington letters of religious tolerance at the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island.

I wanted to take a break from writing intensely during the first week. I perused the titles on the Highlights shelves and found Golda Meir’s autobiography. That Saturday night, ensconced in a flea-bitten motel across the bay from Newport, I began to read Golda’s autobiography. Her voice was unmistakable, full of self and authority.

At first she wrote of her beginnings in Ukraine and her immigration to the United States, specifically Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Then within two pages, she described the formation of the American Young Sisters Society and how she, as president, marshalled their resources to buy school books for their classmates who could not afford to buy their own. I knew this was the story I wanted to share.

Researching Goldie’s early life

Many resources could tell me about Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister, but few allowed me to delve deeply into young Goldie’s life. I contacted the Milwaukee Jewish Historical Society and spoke with archivist Jay Hyland. He was able to locate the September 2, 1909 Milwaukee Journal article about the American Young Sisters Society and their fundraiser. It even had their picture. Jay sent me the article.

Historical accuracy is important to me as a historian, so I consulted histories of the Jewish community in Milwaukee and, through the help of a friend in the Milwaukee school district, a history of the Milwaukee public school system. I also worked with Norman Provizer, director of the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership at Metropolitan State College of Denver, to ensure accuracy. Dr. Provizer and I had some discussion about the spelling of Goldie’s maiden name, because it appeared in historical records in a variety of ways. We finally presented it in the back matter as Mabowehz and Mabovitch. Spelling back then wasn’t as important as it is now.

Accommodating Goldie’s strong voice

It’s unusual to have the main character of a picture book speak for herself. Goldie’s voice was so strong that using the first person “I” was the only way to get her bravado across. She was a force to be reckoned with and her attitude had to come out through the story.

What would Goldie do?

I’ll be promoting Goldie Takes a Stand! Golda Meir’s First Crusade, naturally (as Goldie would say) in a program called, “What Would Goldie Do?” She set high standards for herself, and I suspect for everyone around her. In this program, I’ll pose some scenarios and ask kids what they would do. Then I’ll ask what Goldie would do. I bet there’ll be some differences! We’ll talk about some ideas how they can practice tikkun olam, repairing the world, just like Goldie—how they can help someone they know to make his or her life just a little better.

Contact Barbara about her programs.