Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California

Jewish Children’s Literature Conference
Association of Jewish Libraries
Western Regional Conference

Sinai Temple, Blumenthal Library,
10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Sunday, November 9, 2003



  click to enlarge

8:30 – 9:00 Registration and coffee

9:00 – 9:15 Greetings and Introduction

9:15–10:15 Keynote Address
Goblins and Devils and Bears—Oh My! Eric Kimmel

Children's author Eric Kimmel shares some of the inside stories behind his best-loved books.
Eric A. Kimmel is the Sydney Taylor Award-winning author of such favorite children's classics as The Magic Dreidels, Gershon's Monster, The Chanukkah Guest, and all-time favorite Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.

10:30 –11:30  Small Group Sessions:

I: Picture Book Holiday Tales Naomi Howland
Author and illustrator Naomi Howland will show how she creates a book from the initial idea all the way through writing, editing, and on to the final artwork. She will show edited manuscripts, models she creates, and other background materials. Ms. Howland takes traditional fairy tales and turns them into Jewish holiday stories that can be read and enjoyed at home or used in schools as a teaching tool.

Naomi Howland is the author and illustrator of several books including Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat, and The Matzah Man. An assignment for a children's book illustration at The Art Center College of Design became her first published children's book, ABC Drive! Naomi is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is currently illustrating a book written by Leone Adelson called The Mystery Bear. A transplanted New Yorker, Ms. Howland lives with her family in Claremont, CA.

II: Teaching Tolerance through Young Adult Historical Novels Gloria Miklowitz

What's involved in bringing history to life, especially Jewish history of Roman times, of the Spanish Inquisition, of today's conflict between Jews and Palestinians? Where do the ideas originate? What kind of research is needed? Who are the heroes and heroines and how did they come to life? How are messages of tolerance woven into the stories? The author of Masada, the Last Fortress, Secrets in the House of Delgado, and The Enemy Has a Face will tell of her adventures in writing these books.

Gloria Miklowitz is the author of more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. Her books, which deal with important issues such as nuclear war, racial injustice, steroid abuse, and date violence, have won national and international awards. Three of her novels were made into award-winning television specials, including one which won the Emmy for "Best Children's Special" in 1986 (War Between the Classes). A frequent speaker at schools, Ms. Miklowitz has also taken part in conferences in the United States, South Africa, and Sweden.

III: How Do You Get Your Ideas? Stories Behind the Stories Sonia Levitin

The author will describe how books are derived from personal experience. Her escape from Nazi Germany forms the background and theme of the Journey to America trilogy. These early experiences shaped her broad social concern, resulting in novels about present day slavery in Sudan and the secret airlift of Ethiopian Jews in Operation Moses. Her most recent book, Room in the Heart, is a tribute to the righteous Danes who rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazi menace. Ms. Levitin will show slides from her research travels and explain how, for her, social action and novel writing have merged into a dual commitment. Her own growing exploration into traditional Judaism has resulted in two novels, Escape from Egypt and The Singing Mountain. She will discuss challenges she faces as a writer and as a Jewish woman.

Sonia Levitin is the author of 40 books for children and young adults, spanning many genres—historical novels, mysteries, contemporary novels and picture books. Born in Berlin, she escaped the Nazis in 1938. Ms. Levitin has won not only the National Jewish Book Award, but the Sydney Taylor Award, the PEN Award, the Edgar Alan Poe Mystery Award and numerous other national and international prizes. Her books have been translated into German, Japanese, French, and Danish. She currently teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension. In addition to her children's work, she has also published two books for adults and numerous newspaper and magazine pieces.

IV: Strudel Stories and Other Recipes for the Middle Grade Novel Joanne Rocklin, Ph.D.

The author will describe the creative process involved in writing her American Library Association "Notable Novel" Strudel Stories. She will also give story-making tips using her "5 Steps to a Story" and her Magic StoryBuilders!

Joanne Rocklin, Ph.D. has written over 15 books for children encompassing several genres. A former elementary school teacher, she has a doctorate in psychology and presently is devoted full time to writing children's book. She was a participant as a Writer-in-Residence in the University of Southern California Writing Project and currently teaches a class in writing children's books at UCLA Extension. She gives frequent presentations to schools and libraries. This past summer she led a writing workshop for young people at the Jewish Community Library, Los Angeles.

V: Mining the Folktale: Erica Silverman

Using Gittel's Hands and Raisel's Riddle as examples, Ms. Silverman will share the process of working with folklore to create original Jewish tales in the folk tradition. She will also talk about how she adapted a Sholom Aleichem story to create her newest picture book, When the Chickens Went On Strike.

Erica Silverman is the author of educational materials, articles, poems and picture books, one of which — Don't Fidget a Feather — won the California Young Reader Medal. She has taught every age group, from nursery school to adult, does manuscript consultations, and speaks at schools and conferences. She graduated from UCLA with a major in Jewish Studies and is currently working her way slowly toward the MLIS at SJSU/Fullerton.

VI: Hanna's Suitcase: Karen Levine

2002 Sydney Taylor Award-winning author Karen Levine will share how she came to write Hanna's Suitcase, the extraordinary true story of Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of the Holocaust Centre in Tokyo. The book details Ishioka's search for the story behind an empty suitcase, which came to her museum in 2000.

Through slides and an audio presentation, Karen Levine follows Fumiko in her search for the story of Hanna Brady, a Czech Jewish girl who died at Auschwitz at the age of 13. The journey ultimately leads her to present day Toronto and Hanna's brother George. This is a story of terrible tragedy in the past and great hope for the future.

Karen Levine is an award-winning radio producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto. She is the only Canadian to have won the prestigious Peabody Award twice. Levine's highly acclaimed production of "Hanna's Suitcase" won the Gold World Medal at the New York International Radio Festival. Levine's first book, Hanna's Suitcase has remained on the bestseller list since its release, garnering acclaim and awards in Canada and abroad. Within a year it will be available in twenty countries.

VII: Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing Jewish Books, But Didn't Have a Chance to Ask: Michelle Frey (this session will be repeated in the afternoon)

What is a trade publisher seeking in Jewish literature for children? What different kinds of Jewish books get published? How do you write a successful manuscript that's Jewishly oriented? Then, how do you submit it for publication effectively? We will explore these questions and others. There will be a question and answer period at the end of the session.

Michelle Frey is an editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers, where she acquires and edits picture books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, and some nonfiction. Recent titles include Eragon by Christopher Polini, Exploring Our Solar System by Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaughnessy, and Anne Was Warned by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

VIII: Follow Your Heart into Action - Making Your Creative Dream A Reality: Reva Solomon

How often have you sat and daydreamed about your life as a published writer or illustrator? More often than not, it remains a daydream. Maybe you have written/illustrated some things but they sit in your computer, waiting for that big break to come along. Perhaps, you've completed a manuscript or illustrations, but when someone asks what you do, you answer with your day job — "I'm a _______." And sometimes as an afterthought, you add (but with no conviction) "I've written or illustrated some things." This session explores the ten things you can do to change your thinking, put your writing/illustrating first, and begin to make your creative dream a reality. By breaking the big picture into smaller puzzle pieces, you will be well on your way to saying, "I'm a writer or illustrator" and signing books at your publication party!

Reva Solomon, published writer, producer, and creative coach, has twenty-five years of experience in television, film, theatre and live events. Her love and expertise is in children's television/film. She served as Director of Development - Lin Oliver Productions; did overall development deals at Sony, TriStar and Hallmark Entertainment; and was administrator for The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. Her plays have been produced at various Los Angeles theatres, and she has taught workshops and classes at local universities and at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. Reva served on the Board of Directors of Women In Film and Women In Theatre. She is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, The Dramatist Guild, SCBWI and P.E.N. USA. A former elementary teacher in inner city Atlanta, Georgia, Reva graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgia State University and is pursuing an MFA degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. She teaches writing classes and is available for consultations and coaching.

11:45 – 1:30 Luncheon and Luncheon Presentation

Common Threads—Writing and Illustrating from Picture Books to Young Adult Fiction in the Era of 2003: Jane Breskin Zalben
Brief slide show presentation, talk and questions and answers about the field, the work, and publishing in today's market.

Jane Breskin Zalben is a 2002 Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner for Pearl's Passover: a Family Celebration through Stories, Recipes, Crafts, and Songs. She has not only written and illustrated many children's books, but has designed and art directed most of them. She is the author of the well-known Beni books and many novels for older children, including Unfinished Dreams. Pearl's Eight Days of Chanukah is the third book in her Pearl series, following Pearl Plants a Tree and Marigolds for Grandpa, both of which are ABA Pick of the Lists. In addition to writing, Jane devotes much time to teaching and encouraging children and aspiring artists. Presently, she lectures around the country on how to create picture books. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband and their lop-eared rabbit, Zoe, on Long Island in New York.

1:45 – 2:45  Small Group Sessions

I: Portraying the Holocaust in Children's Literature:  Panel Presentation chaired by Adaire Klein, Director, Library and Archival Services of the Simon Wiesenthal Center/ Museum of Tolerance.

The Panelists:

Susan Goldman Rubin will explain her passion in researching and writing Fireflies in the Dark (her Sydney Taylor award-winning book) and her most recent, Searching for Anne Frank: Letters from Amsterdam to Iowa. Her goal in writing these books is to introduce young readers to the Holocaust, to remember those children who were victims, and to promote tolerance. She is the author of more than 35 books for young people.

Lee Cohen's experience in co-authoring The Children of Willesden Lane took him on a life-changing journey, both physically and emotionally. In retracing the footsteps and life of Kindertransport survivor and musician Lisa Jura, he was compelled to examine both the extraordinary life of a singular woman and his own family history. The path from Vienna, Austria in1938 to post-WWII London intersects with Lee Cohen's own personal tale in surprising and moving fashion. A journalist, screenwriter and poet, in additional to authoring several children's books, he has also contributed to the biography of Holocaust artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and co-produced and wrote the feature film The Effects of Magic. In addition, he has collaborated with Children of Willesden Lane co-author Mona Golabek on several projects, including a recording of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite featuring Meryl Streep. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

Marci Stillerman will share her insights into writing Holocaust Picture books. She is the author of the Sydney Taylor Award-winning book Nine Spoons. Despite hunger, cold, and danger, a few brave women in a Nazi camp are determined that the children in the camp will have a menorah for Chanukah. At great sacrifice, they give up their precious spoons so that an artist among them can fashion a small menorah. Based on an actual event, it tells a grandmother's story of faith and self-sacrifice in the darkest of times. It is intended for a child's first introduction to the Holocaust and for a memorial to all the women and children who died at the hands of the Nazis. Marci Stillerman graduated from Universiy of Chicago. She moved to L.A. in 1986 where she took master courses at UCLA in writing for children. She has published numerous children's stories in Highlights, Cricket group of magazines, Humpty Dumpty, Child life, etc. and in the LA Times Kid's Page. Nine Spoons, published in 1999, won the Sydney Taylor Award, was first pick of US News and World Report in December, 1999, and is published in several foreign languages.It is now in its fifth printing. Elijah, Why Not a Miracle, second book in a series of stories to introduce young children to the Holocaust, is not yet published. Marci is working on other books in the series as well as a young adult novel, The Voodoo Club.

II: Researching Israel:  Sue Alexander

Where to begin? It took Sue Alexander almost ten years to answer that question for herself when she recognized that she needed to write about the trees in Israel. She will lead a discussion, with exhibits, of the thinking and resources that she used to research Behold the Trees.

Sue Alexander is the author of more than 25 books for young people, such as World famous Muriel, Small Plays for Special Days, Witch, Goblin, and Sometimes Ghost, Sara's City, and including the award winning Lila on the Landing, Nadia the Willful, and Behold the Trees. In addition to her books, she has written stories for the Los Angeles Times Kids' Reading Room several times a year since that page began. In addition to reading, her favorite leisure activity, Ms. Alexander enjoys both solving crossword puzzles and constructing them. Born in Tucson, Arizona, she grew up in Chicago, Illinois and now resides in Canoga Park, California.

III: Illustrating the Jewish Book: Deborah Nourse Lattimore

What kind of research does an illustrator need to do to produce authentic illustrations? How does an illustrator work from the text to produce her pictures? These are among the issues that will be explored in this session.

Deborah Nourse Lattimore is the author and illustrator of many books for children including Gittel's Hands, a Jewish folktale, written by Erica Silverman.

IV: Am I a Jewish Author or an Author Who Is Jewish?  Sonya Sones

In this session, Sonya Sones will be discussing how being a Jew informs her writing when she is creating her novels-in-verse for young adults. How, without her even knowing it, being a Jew has affected the themes she has chosen to explore. She'll be reading some poems from her novels, poems that involve anti-Semitism, and describing how she has been able to transform her personal experiences with anti-Semitism into poetry. She'll help you get in touch with your own "inner poet" by leading you through a simple poetry writing exercise.

Sonya Sones is the author of Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Sister Went Crazy, a novel-in-verse for teens, which has received the Christopher Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, the Gradvia Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her second novel-in-verse, What My Mother Doesn't Know, was unanimously chosen by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults and a Top Ten Quick Pick for reluctant Young Adult Readers. It was also named an IRA Young Adult Choice 2003, a 2001 Booklist Editor's Choice, a New York Public Library 2002 Book for the Teen Age, and was placed on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2003/4. Her third novel-in-verse, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, will be published by Simon and Schuster in 2004.

V: A Writer's View of Research: Hazel Krantz

Almost any work, whether fiction or nonfiction, requires research. Historically, for example, what did they wear? What did their cities look like? More contemporarily, what are teens wearing? What are their fads? This session will be an exploration of what sources are available to the writer to make stories come alive.

Hazel Krantz has published 12 books, mainly fiction for children and teens. Books with a Jewish theme are Look to the Hills—Old Denver and Daughter of My People: Henrietta Szold. A native of Westchester, New York, Hazel now lives in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

VI: Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing Jewish Books, But Didn't Have a Chance to Ask: Michelle Frey

What is a trade publisher seeking in Jewish literature for children? What different kinds of Jewish books get published? How do you write a successful manuscript that's Jewishly oriented? Then, how do you submit it for publication effectively? We will explore these questions and others. There will be a question and answer period at the end of the session.

Michelle Frey is an editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers, where she acquires and edits picture books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, and some nonfiction. Recent titles include Eragon by Christopher Polini, Exploring Our Solar System by Sally Ride and Tam O'Shaughnessy, and Anne Was Warned by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

3:00 – 4:00  Good Stories Well Told:  Rabbi Ed Feinstein
Stories to leave you smiling and thinking by a master storyteller and author.
Ed Feinstein is a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom. On Friday afternoons he bakes brownies from a recipe revealed to his ancestors at Mount Sinai.

Closing Remarks

4:15 –5:00  Dessert and Autograph Party

Meet the speakers and other authors and illustrators interested in Jewish literature for children.