Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The book cover so evil I have been fuming for a year

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What do you think – am I overthinking this?

Before I tell you what this post is about, let me first say that I believe “over” thinking isn’t always a bad thing.  Given how many people in the world under think things, including certain book publishers, it’s a good thing some of us are thinking more than others…

I also want to admit that this wasn’t going to be a blog post.  There’s just too much at stake, I feel.  Too much emotionally riding on this.  Some of those near and dear to me has already heard my rant about this children’s book cover.  Some have agreed.  Some have just shrugged.

But last night, working on an essay about images of male Jews and masculinity in Judaism, it all just came out on paper and I figured once it’s out, I may as well share it here, too.

The book is called “What was the Holocaust?”.  Amazon says it’s published by Penguin Workshop and isn’t due out until June 2018, but that can’t be right because I first saw this a long time ago now.  I pointed it out to my husband in a bookstore in Toronto in July.  So it definitely already exists.

Here’s the cover:

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What’s your gut reaction to that picture?

Think I’m blowing things out of proportion?  (Um, like the illustrator obviosuly did with their heads?)

Now, before I tell you what I think, I will back up and point out

Monday, September 18, 2017

Crochet, hope, despair, and love – a tangled yarn

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"With colour A, chain 166."

There's so much despair in those words; so much hope.

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In case you’ve never crocheted, I’ll fill you in:  almost every blanket pattern starts the same way – by telling you to make a chain - a long, long, long chain, in this case, 166 stitches long.

(Unless it's the kind of blanket where you make squares and stitch them together, in which case what you have isn't a blanket pattern but a square patterns.)

You can't mess around with this chain, either, because it  will eventually be the width (or length) of your blanket.  So don't make those stitches too tight or you'll have a scrunched-up weeny blanket.  Or too loose, or you'll have a flopsy blanket with no structure.

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I never used to know anything about knitting or crocheting.  It’s possible, like most people I encounter, I assumed they were the same thing. 

Now I know that there are many differences.  If you want to know if a person is knitting or crocheting (at the very least, so you don't sound foolish), look at the number of sticks they're holding.  Two sticks (especially if they're pointy) is knitting.  One stick (especially if it has a hook at the end) is crocheting.

The word crochet comes from the French word for hook.  Okay, actually, it is the French word for hook.  The hook lets you pull the yarn through loops, essentially tying one bazillion little teeny knots.

This blanket I just started uses 7 balls of yarn, and each ball of yarn is 448 metres.  That's over

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Great things come in… twos! Two new books to greet 5778 from the world’s 41,526th best-loved author

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I confess, it’s been a rocky time, writing-wise.  Not that I’m not writing!  Actually, I’m writing more than ever, probably more than most writers do in a lifetime.  The problem is that most of it is your basic blah writing for clients, translating (from Hebrew to English), or essays for school.

(Did I mention I’m a full-time grad student???  More about that later…)

But somehow, despite having ZERO time to write the things I truly wish I was writing, I seem to have managed to finish not one but TWO book projects, and without further ado – I present… two gorgeous new books:

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  • Oma is 100:  "It's been almost a hundred years since Oma was born, but she doesn't want a party..."  When a young girl’s grandmother decides she's too old for  a birthday party, the simple act of crocheting a blanket teaches them both an important lesson about love, family, and belonging.  This isn’t specifically a Jewish book, in that there are no Hebrew words or references to Judaism – the message of honouring and learning from older relatives is one that resonates throughout every religion I know.  I feel very lucky to have found a terrific illustrator for this project, Lisa Larsen; she made it a pleasure to bring this story to life through its images.

Here are some pages from Oma is 100:

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Should you buy tichels and other religious headcoverings online from AliExpress?

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Who knew?  Did you know??  Decent, cheap head coverings are now a reality thanks to Chinese mega-marketplace AliExpress – and a few weeks ago, I decided to get in on the action. 

As an ultra-scientific experiment, I bought four “pre-tied” tichels, which is what I usually like to wear around the house, to see what kind of quality they’re selling.  Down below, I’ve shown you the ones I bought and how they stacked up against what they looked like on the models.

(In case you’re not familiar with them, a pre-tied tichel has elastic at the back and tails that hang down, so you just pull on the cap and tie the back, without having to fuss with a big triangle or other shape of fabric…)

I’ve been buying tichels (mitpachot, or scarf-type headcoverings) online from a few different places, but it’s always a hassle – it costs way too much to begin with, and then you have to add the cost of shipping.  I have also bought a couple here in Israel, but mostly, I buy them online like everything else.  I really don’t like shopping in person, especially here.

Usually when we order from AliExpress, we then sit back and get ready for at least a month and usually more like two months of waiting.  But one of the nice things about buying tichels, apparently, is that they can squeeze into a cheap mailer envelope, and thus arrive practically instantly in comparison – well, two weeks for the fastest of the tichels.

And of course, the biggest and bestest part of all is the price – generally between $4 and $6 per tichel. 

So I bet you’re all curious now - how do they look???

Here are the 4 that I ordered