Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Shopping for picture books for Jewish holidays? Here are 6 you’ll love.

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Do you have something you’re really bad at?

I do, so I’ll go first.

I’m lousy at self-promotion. 

Not just bad.  Lousy.  Especially in person.  I have been at people’s houses, shown them the parsha book that I wrote, and then, when they ask me where they can buy one, I say something like, “oh, it’s probably not right for you.”  Or, “you don’t want to buy it.”

Literally, I have said that.  More than once.  I’m like the ANTI self-promotion force.  I am my own worst critic.

But it’s that time on the Jewish calendar (note to self:  buy new calendars!) when we head out – or head online – to buy kids’ books for the upcoming fall yamim tovim.  Whether they’re for our own children, other people’s children, or just to hand out randomly to children we meet on the subway (hey, a struggling author can hope, right?).  We’re all in the mood for books that make Judaism fun, colourful and appealing.

So I’m going to take a break to blow my own horn, briefly, and let you know that with the fall chagim coming up, you still have time to explore some books I wrote that you and your kids might enjoy.  If you aren’t interested, don’t buy them... drat – there I go, undermining myself again.

Let’s start over:

These are ALL great books.  I’m proud of them.  And they’re all reasonably priced and available on Amazon.com.  Bonus:  buy any book with a Kindle edition, and I’ve set things up so it will give you the Kindle version FREE.

(If you’re in Israel, contact me; I have copies here that I can send you directly.)

Here are all my yom tov books (so far; there are more coming!)… and why you and your kids will love them:

image Penguin Rosh Hashanah Because penguins… and Rosh Hashanah.  How cool are they together?  (Answer:  very.)
image We Didn’t Have an Etrog! Everything’s ready for Sukkos / Sukkot… except the etrog (esrog)!  Two eager kids learn a lesson in patience as they prepare for yom tov.
image One Chanukah Night For slightly older kids, Sammy comes face-to-face with history and discovers his own connection with the stories of the Tanach.
image The Marror Man Run, run, as fast as you can… think you know the ending?  Maybe not, in this fun Pesach twist on a classic tale.
image Seven Special Gifts Perfect for Sukkos / Sukkot, Shavuos / Shavuot, or just generally reading about the Land of Israel.
image Shabbat Monsters Not exactly a yom tov book, but Shabbat comes around every week, and with these cute monsters, every kid will look forward to it.

This isn’t all I’ve written, just everything that has a bit of a festival “flavour.”  Click here to see all my books. 

Can I ask you a favour?

While I’m tooting my own horn… it’s kind of tiring being the only one.

If you’ve bought or read one of my books in the past, please click back through and leave a review.  As an independent writer, I live and die by reviews.  They’re the best way to tell other readers that a book by a new and undiscovered writer deserves their attention.

Again, click here to find all my books and (hopefully) leave a fair review.

And now, back to my regularly-scheduled self-effacement…

Thanks for your support.  I totally appreciate it!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Start to finish, a Rosh Hashanah (ish) Israel (ish) craft project

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Spoiler alert!  If you are on our “nearest and dearest” list, please don’t scroll down to peek at the craft project revealed below.  It is currently winging its way to you in the mail.  Be patient.

(Um, if you feel you are near and dear and considerable time has passed and you have NOT received your very own Craft in the mail – well, oops.  We still love you, but are far from having our act together over here on this new side of the Atlantic.  Better luck to all of us next year.)

So my nanny used to get these cards.  Maybe you’ve seen them.  They were all-occasion cards with paintings on the front.  Mediocre paintings of puppies and kittens and clowns and water and boats.  And the only thing that was special about the cards was that on the back, they said they were mouth-painted by people who had no limbs.

Mouth-painted.  That phrase stuck with me, maybe because everybody always told me not to put paintbrushes in my mouth.  Or maybe the image of a limbless guy painting a landscape.

And the thing is, they didn’t have to be GOOD paintings.  Once you knew they were mouth-painted, that was enough.

So that’s how I think about our craft project.  A year ago, we had our legs pulled out from beneath us by our move to Israel.  Sure, we did it deliberately, we planned it in advance, and we’re happy we came.  But a year ago, I was overwhelmed by the thought of finding vegetables, making lasagna, assembling a meal.  Let alone renting an apartment, finding a job, ordering gas balloons, and all the other things that we’ve managed to accomplish in the year we’ve lived here.

We have had such a beautiful summer, homeschooling together.  And I wanted to wrap it up with a nice something that we could send to everybody we love before Rosh Hashanah.

Luckily, I planned ahead of time.  Between Pesach and June, when things were flowering, I took the liberty of stripping lots of flowers and bringing them home to press.  The kids thought I was nuts, but okay.

(They realized it was cool when they saw me opening up a couple of huge dictionaries and plopping the flowers inside.)

Some flowers faded more than others, but whatever… this is all about lessons learned, and not about the end result.

Remember, it’s like mouth-painting. 

We’re not just doing crafts – we’re doing crafts in Israel.  Everything is hard:  I don’t have my regular glue, scissors, paper, whatever.  No WalMart; how are you supposed to craft without WalMart?

But I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the flowers all along. 

A few years ago, Naomi Rivka designed a bookmark that I knew was never going to win the public library bookmark contest.  But I thought it was beautiful, so I printed off colour copies, mounted them on cardboard and “laminated” them and gave them out to a few lucky relatives.

That’s what I wanted to do with the flowers.  Only without cardboard, without my regular glue, with weird Israeli laminating plastic… well.  It’s about the process, not the product… right?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Two things that are definitely not “us.” Thing #1.

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Thing #2 is Tzfat.  A city we love, but will probably never live in.  You can read more about that over here.

But it’s Thing #1 that hurts. 

Thing #1 is homeschooling.

It’s hard not to cry as I write this (partly because Windows Live Writer ate my last version of this after I’d spent 10 minutes typing – waah).

I have had the BEST summer, learning at home with the kids.  Learning, growing, exploring, doing cool stuff together.  And yeah, proving to myself that even here in Israel, I’m still me.  They’re still them, albeit now with a touch of Israeli schoolkid chutzpah.

Given the choice, the kids would continue homeschooling, all year long.  Staying in PJs, going on tiyulim, choosing what to learn, how fast, at exactly the right level.

Given the choice, we grown-ups would continue homeschooling, all year long.  Avoiding making lunches, and yeah, staying in PJs.  Missing the chance to throw ourselves on the one-size-fits-all, inexorable conveyor belt that is any education system, even in Israel.

Have I mentioned that I hate making lunches? 

Ask any of my kids; it’s true.  Always have.  It doesn’t help that I hate almost all sandwiches and this is a nation that reveres them to the point of mandating a nationwide sandwich break at 10am every day.

But, of course, sandwiches are not a good reason to keep your children home.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Free-BEE! Free Kindle book on Amazon.com

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My favourite price in the world:  free.  And my favourite thing in the world:  a kids’ book.  (Yes, one of mine.)

Please Like, Share and pass along this deal.  FREE UNTIL AUGUST 14 ONLY!

Learn a little about Israel's modern history and its most beloved songwriter in this short kids' chapter book! This week (Aug 10-14), my book "Naomi Shemer: Teaching Israel to Sing" is FREE for Kindle.

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE KINDLE VERSION FREE UNTIL AUGUST 14.

I started writing this book when my daughter, named after Naomi Shemer, was a baby… but only finished it last year, when she was 8.  A long time in the making, but I think it’s worth every second.  (And I loved reading it to her and telling her about the amazing lady for whom she’s named.

Acclaimed in her lifetime as the "First Lady of Israeli Song" and the author of unforgettable classics like Jerusalem of Gold (Yerushalayim shel Zahav), Naomi Shemer is almost unknown in the English-speaking world. With its engaging, straighforward narrative, this book opens the world of Naomi Shemer for the first time to English-speaking children and their parents. Come find out what made her special.

(I'd also love to get some reviews up, so if you and your kids read/enjoy it, please leave an honest review to help others.)

Here are some shots from the paperback version of the book:


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Enjoy!

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE KINDLE VERSION FREE UNTIL AUGUST 14.

If you’ve already read this book, or to get notices for future freebies… join my mailing list!

Jewish parenting insights and more free books? Yes, please!

(Not too many... you’ll get a short personal note every other week or so. No spam, no ads; I promise.)
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