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Mar 21 2012

The Fake Books Are Taking Over

By at 2:28 pm

How Not to Kill Your BabyUgh, new trend alert!

Let’s just say that you heard it here first, but we fear there is a new trend in parenting literature that we’ll call the mockumanual (get it? like a fake parenting book?). It started of course with the wildly popular mock-children’s book, Go the F*!% to Sleep. That book rocketed its way to #1 on Amazon months before it was even released and then the author Adam Mansbach managed to sell the film rights! (That one should be as good as the film version of What to Expect when You’re Expecting!)

So really, it was only a matter of time before the copycats started to come out (Goodnight Ipad, anyone?). And now the trend has jumped from parodying literature, to parodying that thing that’s all too easy to mock–the parenting manual. How Not to Kill Your Baby: A Slightly Useless Guide hit bookstores yesterday. (And no need to point this out, but we did notice that both Adam Mansbach and Jacob Sager Weinstein are Jewish.)

Am I the only one who finds the whole thing sort of annoying? Or am I just pissed that Kveller didn’t write it first?

Mar 19 2012

Passover Contest #1: Books!

By at 4:19 pm

Well friends, it’s that season. Time to start thinking about your seders, using up your bread products, and reading books to your kids about Passover. To that end, we’ve teamed up with Kar-Ben Publishing and have a Passover book contest for you.

The lucky winner will receive a basket of Sammy Spider Passover fun, including two books and a plush toy. (If you’re not familiar with the character of Sammy Spider, he is a lovable spider who gets introduced to all of the Jewish holidays through his friendship with the Shapiro family.)

So how do you enter? Just write in below with your favorite item on the Seder plate. The contest ends this Friday, March 23, at 5 pm, so enter now!

Feb 28 2012

My Daugher Lost Her Lovey, and I’m Freaking Out

By at 9:36 am
pink fuzzy blanket

Have YOU seen Special Blanket?

There’s something missing around our home.

When Penelope was born, I laid out a supply of items I thought might become her lovey. At first, I thought this really cool brown owl would strike her fancy, but she was never interested in it. As she grew and began showing a preference for books, we become very fond of Eric Carle, specifically Brown Bear. She lurved Brown Bear. So I went to our local toy store and got three plush brown bears. She liked them! But she didn’t luff them, with two Fs. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 27 2012

Purim Book Contest

By at 10:06 am

This book can be yours if you win!

The holiday of Purim is coming up soon, so it’s contest time. Why? The word purim means lots, and comes from the fact that the evil Haman drew lots to pick the date on which he would kill all the Jews. Yuck. But we’re taking the idea of drawing lots and making it positive–we’re going to draw lots to choose three winners who will each get a copy of the newest Purim book off the Kar-Ben press, Barnyard Purim, by Kelly Terwilliger.

Barnyard Purim tells the story of crazy farm animals who decide to put on a Purim shpiel (a play telling the story of Purim). A few misunderstandings and zaniness ensues, with lots of fun along the way.

And THREE lucky winners will win a copy! To enter the contest, just leave us a note below saying hello.

Enter by Wednesday, February 29 at 5 pm. Good luck!

Feb 9 2012

Maurice Sendak Ripped Off Sesame Street (Not Really)

By at 10:56 am

bumble-ardy by maurice sendakIt’s hard to put into words how much Maurice Sendak means to me. I know I’m not alone in this–Where The Wild Things Are touched a nerve from the moment it hit bookstore shelves in 1964, and even though he comes across as a crotchety old curmudgeon in interviews (we’re talking Colbert Report), let’s be serious: the Little Bear illustrations show someone with a deep, sensory memory of a mother’s love. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 31 2012

Where Have all the Good Jewish Books for Kids Gone?

By at 11:29 am

Simms Taback

So, I’ve been writing a little bit for the Forward. Last month I pleaded with the Jewish establishment to spend money on Jewish childcare (preferably in my part of Brooklyn!). And this month I take on Jewish children’s books arguing that they should be better. Here’s the first bit to get  you started. Click on over to the Forward to read the rest.

(Feel free to disagree with me, and please, please share the names of your favorite Jewish books in the comment section below.) Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 30 2012

Contest: Make-Your-Own-Book

By at 12:43 pm
Scribblitt Book

You too can make your own personalized books with Scribblitt.

Now that my daughter is 2.5-years-old, our lives have changed a bit. She’s big enough to do a somersault, she can recite books along with us, and she loves it when we tell her stories. In fact, stories are her new obsession. Some stories are from her life, like the time we went to see Auntie Kim run the Philadelphia Marathon. Others are made up, like Queen Midas who turns everything she touches into candy. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 25 2012

Why I Want My Kids to Read Less

By at 10:14 am
little boy reading a book

Hey kid, put the book away!

My oldest son taught himself to read at age 4. This isn’t a boast. He didn’t speak until he was 3, we found out (way too late; bad Mommy) that he had hearing issues, and I figure the visual was just easier for him to grasp.

My second son, at age 4, didn’t just not read–he threw violent temper tantrums and flung books across the room at the mere mention of it. Not wanting a repeat of the bad Mommy hearing incident, I took him to get his eyes checked. And was told that his vision was 20/20, but that he might benefit from an untested therapy that wasn’t covered by insurance or guaranteed to do anything. You know, just to be safe. I passed. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 18 2012

The Best of Jewish Children’s Lit 2012

By at 3:54 pm

book of the yearIf you’re looking to update your kids’ bookshelves with some great new Jewish children’s books, how about some prize winners? The Sydney Taylor Book Awards for 2012 have just been announced, recognizing the best in Jewish children’s writing each year.

Without further ado, this year’s winners were:

The Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Younger Readers:
Chanukah Lights by Michael J. Rosen with artwork by Robert Sabuda
(Candlewick Press)

Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 21 2011

Engineer Ari and Realistic Kids’ Books

By at 2:15 pm

When my husband and I were choosing names for our son, we had a few rules. Key among them was that the name had to be pronounceable wherever we might live in the future (America only, we’re not that adventurous). Hebrew names such as Adin or Michal might be nice, but would be butchered in most parts of the country. So we finally settled on Ari (we figured the popularity of HBO’s Entourage and its character Ari Gold would only help).

But I certainly don’t expect to find tchotchkes like keychains or magnets with his name as we go on family vacations in the future.

So  I was surprised when someone clued us on to the “Engineer Ari” book series. Yes, they are published by a Jewish company (Kar-Ben) but it’s still a nice treat, especially when looking them up on Amazon.

As our Ari grows older, I’m sure he’ll delight in reading the books, which center on an engineer driving the first train in Israel in the late 19th century. While the books are geared at school-age readers, our Ari enjoys listening to the stories already.  What kid doesn’t love a story about trains?

This holiday season, having already had a Rosh Hashanah Ride and ventured on the Sukkah Express, Engineer Ari faces a “Hanukkah Mishap.”   Previous reviewers have noted the bright and vivid depictions of the land of Israel before the present-day state existed. This story, which also shares the history and customs of Hanukkah, is no exception.

But my favorite part is the interaction that Engineer Ari has with Kalil, a local Bedouin he meets along the railway. In stories about Israel for young children, it’s easy to shy away from the demographic realities of the country. The pictures of Engineer Ari and Kalil shaking hands, sharing coffee, and lighting the menorah are important images for our children to see.

Is the interaction realistic? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I don’t think it matters. The way these two characters celebrate each other’s customs is a starting point for the discussion I want to have with my child one day about Israel. I believe that many other parents will agree with me.

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