Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California




Jewish Literature for Children
AJL Western Regional Conference

Sunday, February 20, 2005
Hosted by Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library
Sponsored by Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries, Association of Jewish Libraries,
Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California

[Click for Conference photos]
[Click for List of Guest Authors and Illustrators]

8:30 – 9:00     Registration and coffee

9:00 – 9:15     Greetings and Introduction

Conference Co-Chair: Susan Dubin, Consultant, Off-The-Shelf Library Services, and Lisa Silverman, Library Director of host library: Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library.
Association of Jewish Libraries: Ronda Rose, President
Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California: Ellen Cole, President
Mt. Sinai Memorial Parks & Mortuaries: Martha White, Director of Sales and Marketing

9:15 – 10:15      Keynote Address

Looking Back After More Than 30 Years of Writing for Children, and Looking Forward: David Adler

David A. Adler will speak about how he came to write for children, the secrets of success of Cam Jansen, sidelights regarding the many biographies he has written, and suggestions for people new to the field.

David A. Adler is the author of 180 books for children including many Holocaust books such as The Number on My Grandfather's Arm, We Remember the Holocaust, One Yellow Daffodil, and others. He has also written many biographies, math and science books, and the Cam Jansen mysteries. He is a former editor and math teacher.

10:30 –11:30      Small Group Sessions

I:      Portraying the Holocaust in Children's Literature: Panel Presentation

Adaire Klein, Moderator, is the founding Director of Library and Archival Services at the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Museum of Tolerance. She holds a B.A. in Hebrew Literature and a M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University.

Hava Ben-Zvi: "My father introduced me to books by bringing me to a local library in Warsaw, Polan, setting me on a path I was to follow ever since. In later years, becoming a librarian and ultimately, a writer, was a natural part of my upbringing and environment."
While serving for many years as the head librarian of the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, Ms. Ben-Zvi had the opportunity and privilege to enrich her knowledge of literature. She has a Master of Library Science and is a recipient of the Ezra Award granted by the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angles for a significant contribution to Jewish education in the community. A contributor to educational periodicals, her retelling of a Jewish folktale: "The Wise and Thoughtful King" appeared in Cricket Magazine, June , 2002. Eva's Journey: A Young Girl's True Story is a memoir of her life in German occupied Poland during World War II. Ms. Ben-Zvi is at work on other books.

Sonia Levitin is the author of 40 books for children and young adults, spanning many genre—historical novels, mysteries, contemporary novels and picture books. She has also published two adult books and numerous newspaper and magazine pieces. She was born in Berlin and managed to escape the Nazis in 1938, the theme of her acclaimed Journey to America trilogy. Ms. Levitin has won the National Jewish Book Award, 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 teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension.

David A. Adler is the author of 180 books for children including many Holocaust books such as The Number on My Grandfather's Arm, We Remember the Holocaust, One Yellow Daffodil, and others. He has also written many biographies, math and science books, and the Cam Jansen mysteries. He is a former editor and math teacher.

II:    What's New In Jewish Literature For Children?    Linda Silver

The Jewish Valuesfinder, www.ajljewishvalues.org, will be used to show how new books for Jewish youth can be identified and used for book selection, reader guidance, and curricular purposes. Pertinent features of the Valuesfinder will be demonstrated live through a computer Internet connection and notable new books will be highlighted. Jewish review journals will also be mentioned in terms of their strengths and limitations.

Linda Silver is the creator and editor of AJL's new Jewish Valuesfinder, www.ajljewishvalues.org, an Internet site that identifies the values found in children's books of Jewish content. She is also the editor of children's book reviews for Jewish Book World and co-editor, with Ellen Cole, of children's and teen reviews for the AJL Newsletter. Linda is a former member and chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and is currently president of the School, Synagogue, and Center Division (SSC) of AJL and of AJL's Greater Cleveland Chapter. She is the librarian of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland and has an M.L.S. from Case Western Reserve University.

III:      Sydney Taylor: the Books That Changed the Literature:     June Cummins

In this Power Point presentation, June Cummins will show slides relevant to Sydney Taylor's life during the 1920's, when she was a young woman. Focusing on her experiences at this time, including her involvement with the Young People's Socialist League and stints as an actress and dancer, she will present Taylor's interests and growth during the decade of her budding career and marriage. Using photographs and documents, June will discuss the relationship between archival research and the process of writing a biography. The presentation will explore the impact of this glorious decade on Taylor's development as a writer.

June Cummins is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. June was born in New York City and grew up in San Diego, California. She received her degrees from U. C. Berkeley and Columbia University. At San Diego State University, June specializes in children's literature. Her research interests within this topic include American children's literature, multiculturalism, national identity, consumerism, Jewish children's literature, and of course, Sydney Taylor. She has published articles on Taylor, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Curious George, Harry Potter, Beatrix Potter, and the book Understood Betsy. Currently, she is writing a biography of Sydney Taylor. June is married and has three sons.

IV:      Illustrating the Jewish Book:   Panel Presentation

Deborah Nourse Lattimore is the author and illustrator of many books for children including Gittel's Hands, a Jewish folktale, written by Erica Silverman. She also teaches classes in picture book writing and illustrating for the UCLA writer's workshop and is an expert in the field of Egyptology. She will discuss what kind of research an illustrator needs to do to produce authentic illustrations and how an illustrator worsk from the text to produce her pictures.

Jean Marzollo will discuss how she created the art for 5 Bible stories, Daniel in the Lion's Den (a 2004 Sydney Taylor Honor Book) and Sydney Taylor Notable Books Miriam and Her Brother Moses, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale (and the Worm), and new book Ruth and Naomi, all published by Little, Brown. She is the award-winning author of over 100 books, including the best-selling I Spy books and the Shanna Show books. She lives in Cold Springs, New York.

Naomi Howland decided on a career as an artist in first grade. From the best decorated report covers to posters for school dances, she always combined words and pictures. The author/illustrator of ABCDrive!, and Sydney Taylor Notable books Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat, The Matzah Man, and illustrator of the 2004 Sydney Taylor Notable Book, The Mystery Bear, Naomi is happiest at her drawing table. She lives with her family in Claremont,

V:     Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing Jewish Books, But Didn't Have a Chance to Ask:    Panel Presentation

Julie Strauss-Gabel is an Editor at Dutton Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. Dutton publishes picture books and fiction, as well as selected nonfiction. The list includes WINNIE THE POOH, Paul Zelinsky, Elisa Kleven, Lloyd Alexander, and Eva Ibbotson. Before joining Dutton, Julie was at Clarion Books for almost five years where she worked with authors and illustrators including Karen English, Carol Matas, Howard Fine, Eileen Christelow, Linda Sue Park, and Javaka Steptoe. Julie works on a variety of projects, including picture books and contemporary young adult / middle grade fiction. She is especially interested in finding new voices in fiction and enjoys both tender and irreverent picture book manuscripts with tight, lyrical writing. Humor is a plus for any submission. She is not as interested in chapter books or historical fiction.

Etan Boritzer will describe the difficulty of getting books published for children that deal with religious matters. He will also talk about the resistance of not just publishers, but also booksellers, distributors, educators, professionals, and parents. He is the author of the best selling "What is…?" series whose first book "What Is God?" Is in its 14th edition with almost 300,000 in sales worldwide.

Top of Page

11:45 – 1:30     Luncheon and Luncheon Presentation

Milestones in American Jewish Children's Literature:   Linda Silver

In a Power Point presentation, Linda Silver will survey American Jewish children's literature from the 1800's to the present, highlighting the books, authors, events, and trends that have led to the emergence of Jewish children's literature as a distinct body of literature and identifying the support structure that Jewish children's literature needs in order to grow and mature.

Linda Silver is the creator and editor of AJL's new Jewish Valuesfinder, www.ajljewishvalues.org, an Internet site that identifies the values found in children's books of Jewish content. She is also the editor of children's book reviews for Jewish Book World and co-editor, with Ellen Cole, of children's and teen reviews for the AJL Newsletter. Linda is a former member and chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and is currently president of the School, Synagogue, and Center Division (SSC) of AJL and of AJL's Greater Cleveland Chapter. She is the librarian of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland and has an M.L.S. from Case Western Reserve University.

1:45 – 2:45 Small Group Sessions

I:    Portraying the Holocaust in Children's Literature:  Panel Presentation

Adaire Klein, Moderator, is the founding Director of Library and Archival Services at the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Museum of Tolerance. She holds a B.A. in Hebrew Literature and a M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University.

Hava Ben-Zvi: "My father introduced me to books by bringing me to a local library in Warsaw, Polan, setting me on a path I was to follow ever since. In later years, becoming a librarian and ultimately, a writer, was a natural part of my upbringing and environment."
While serving for many years as the head librarian of the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, Ms. Ben-Zvi had the opportunity and privilege to enrich her knowledge of literature. She has a Master of Library Science and is a recipient of the Ezra Award granted by the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angles for a significant contribution to Jewish education in the community. A contributor to educational periodicals, her retelling of a Jewish folktale: "The Wise and Thoughtful King" appeared in Cricket Magazine, June , 2002. Eva's Journey: A Young Girl's True Story is a memoir of her life in German occupied Poland during World War II. Ms. Ben-Zvi is at work on other books.

Sonia Levitin is the author of 40 books for children and young adults, spanning many genre—historical novels, mysteries, contemporary novels and picture books. She has also published two adult books and numerous newspaper and magazine pieces. She was born in Berlin and managed to escape the Nazis in 1938, the theme of her acclaimed Journey to America trilogy. Ms. Levitin has won the National Jewish Book Award, 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 teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension.

II:    What's New In Jewish Literature For Children?    Linda Silver

The Jewish Valuesfinder, www.ajljewishvalues.org, will be used to show how new books for Jewish youth can be identified and used for book selection, reader guidance, and curricular purposes. Pertinent features of the Valuesfinder will be demonstrated live through a computer Internet connection and notable new books will be highlighted. Jewish review journals will also be mentioned in terms of their strengths and limitations.

Linda Silver is the creator and editor of AJL's new Jewish Valuesfinder, www.ajljewishvalues.org, an Internet site that identifies the values found in children's books of Jewish content. She is also the editor of children's book reviews for Jewish Book World and co-editor, with Ellen Cole, of children's and teen reviews for the AJL Newsletter. Linda is a former member and chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and is currently president of the School, Synagogue, and Center Division (SSC) of AJL and of AJL's Greater Cleveland Chapter. She is the librarian of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland and has an M.L.S. from Case Western Reserve University.

III:      Sydney Taylor: the Books That Changed the Literature:     June Cummins

In this Power Point presentation, June Cummins will show slides relevant to Sydney Taylor's life during the 1920's, when she was a young woman. Focusing on her experiences at this time, including her involvement with the Young People's Socialist League and stints as an actress and dancer, she will present Taylor's interests and growth during the decade of her budding career and marriage. Using photographs and documents, June will discuss the relationship between archival research and the process of writing a biography. The presentation will explore the impact of this glorious decade on Taylor's development as a writer.

June Cummins is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. June was born in New York City and grew up in San Diego, California. She received her degrees from U. C. Berkeley and Columbia University. At San Diego State University, June specializes in children's literature. Her research interests within this topic include American children's literature, multiculturalism, national identity, consumerism, Jewish children's literature, and of course, Sydney Taylor. She has published articles on Taylor, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Curious George, Harry Potter, Beatrix Potter, and the book Understood Betsy. Currently, she is writing a biography of Sydney Taylor. June is married and has three sons.

IV:      Illustrating the Jewish Book:   Panel Presentation

Deborah Nourse Lattimore is the author and illustrator of many books for children including Gittel's Hands, a Jewish folktale, written by Erica Silverman. She also teaches classes in picture book writing and illustrating for the UCLA writer's workshop and is an expert in the field of Egyptology. She will discuss what kind of research an illustrator needs to do to produce authentic illustrations and how an illustrator worsk from the text to produce her pictures.

Jean Marzollo will discuss how she created the art for 5 Bible stories, Daniel in the Lion's Den (a 2004 Sydney Taylor Honor Book) and Sydney Taylor Notable Books Miriam and Her Brother Moses, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale (and the Worm), and new book Ruth and Naomi, all published by Little, Brown. She is the award-winning author of over 100 books, including the best-selling I Spy books and the Shanna Show books. She lives in Cold Springs, New York.

Naomi Howland decided on a career as an artist in first grade. From the best decorated report covers to posters for school dances, she always combined words and pictures. The author/illustrator of ABCDrive!, and Sydney Taylor Notable books Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat, The Matzah Man, and illustrator of the 2004 Sydney Taylor Notable Book, The Mystery Bear, Naomi is happiest at her drawing table. She lives with her family in Claremont, California.

Rosanne Litzinger was schooled at Art Center and Cal State Long Beach where she was fretted over by a significant group of Cranbrook graduates. She was self-motivated from a very early age and began her career by stapling picture books of humble stories that she illustrated at the age of seven or eight. She is the Sydney Taylor Award winning illustrator of Chicken Soup by Heart. She also is the illustrator of The Someday House by Anne Shelby and Matzo Ball Boy written by Lisa Shulman and due to be released Spring, 2005, by Dutton.

V:     Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing Jewish Books, But Didn't Have a Chance to Ask:    Panel Presentation

Julie Strauss-Gabel is an Editor at Dutton Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. Dutton publishes picture books and fiction, as well as selected nonfiction. The list includes WINNIE THE POOH, Paul Zelinsky, Elisa Kleven, Lloyd Alexander, and Eva Ibbotson. Before joining Dutton, Julie was at Clarion Books for almost five years where she worked with authors and illustrators including Karen English, Carol Matas, Howard Fine, Eileen Christelow, Linda Sue Park, and Javaka Steptoe. Julie works on a variety of projects, including picture books and contemporary young adult / middle grade fiction. She is especially interested in finding new voices in fiction and enjoys both tender and irreverent picture book manuscripts with tight, lyrical writing. Humor is a plus for any submission. She is not as interested in chapter books or historical fiction.

Etan Boritzer will describe the difficulty of getting books published for children that deal with religious matters. He will also talk about the resistance of not just publishers, but also booksellers, distributors, educators, professionals, and parents. He is the author of the best selling "What is…?" series whose first book "What Is God?" Is in its 14th edition with almost 300,000 in sales worldwide.

VI.    Workshop for Authors:   David Adler

This workshop is designed for writers who are already published or have a finished work. David Adler will answer questions and give tips on writing for children.

David A. Adler is the author of 180 books for children including many Holocaust books such as The Number on My Grandfather's Arm, We Remember the Holocaust, One Yellow Daffodil, and others. He has also written many biographies, math and science books, and the Cam Jansen mysteries. He is a former editor and math teacher.

3:00 – 4:00     Closing Remarks:    Storyteller Joel Ben Izzy

Joel Ben Izzy began his professional career in 1983, after graduating from Stanford with a degree in English, Creative Writing and Storytelling. After a year performing in and around San Francisco, he set off to travel the world, gathering and telling stories. His first job as a storyteller took him to a little village outside Rome, where he worked in a camp that turned out to be haunted. You can hear the story of his adventures on The Green Hand. Just as one story leads to another, so one trip led to another, as Joel found himself traveling, teaching and telling stories in England, Wales, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong and China.

In 1991 Joel produced his first recording, Stories From Far Away, which went on to win a Parents' Choice Gold Award and was chosen as an ALA Notable Recording. He has produced six recordings since that time, all of which have won awards, including his most recent, Lights & Laughter—Joel ben Izzy Spins Hanukkah Tales, which received a Parents' Choice Gold Award, NAPPA Gold Award and received a starred review from Booklist Magazine.

Joel's own story took a sharp twist in the summer of 1997, when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Though usually a treatable form of the disease, in his case there was a strange complication; when he awoke from surgery he discovered that he could no longer speak. So Joel began an adventure as strange as any story Joel had ever told, which was to become the basis for his book, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness.

4:15 –5:00     Dessert and Autograph Party

See list of Authors and Illustrators attending the Conference

**Manuscript Consultations available with editor Julie Strauss-Gabel.**

This conference has been made possible thanks to the generous contributions of Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries, Sinai Temple Blumenthal Library, AJLSC, Judy Cohn, and the many authors and illustrators who gave their time and expertise.