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Your Jewish Children’s Book Drinking Game


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From the cover of Hereville.(Abrams)

Earlier this week, the Association of Jewish Libraries announced the Sydney Taylor Book Awards for the best Jewish children’s books of 2010. Many of the winners made appearances in my best-books roundups for younger and older kids.

Some fabulous books, to be sure … but as ever, certain literary settings and themes do emerge repeatedly. As Laurel Snyder (a Sydney Taylor Notable Book author!) observed in Tablet Magazine, it can be challenging to get non-didactic, newfangled Jewish books published. (Her much-praised Baxter, the Pig who Wanted to be Kosher was rejected by a Jewish publisher, who didn’t want Baxter to be … a pig.) Snyder wrote that while there are certainly wonderful Jewish children’s books (and while I agree—this year offered a bumper crop; Hereville in particular is about as original a graphic novel as I’ve ever seen), most feature “edutainment that relies on old models. Illustrations that could have been painted for a ketubah. Stories set in shtetls.” She added: “We need more kinds of books for our kids, books that are fresh and funny, that speak our kids’ language, whatever that is, or becomes.” Amen, Laurel. But until we get books that don’t use the same tried and true tropes over and over again, clearly it’s time for a Jewish children’s book drinking game!

Every time you see one of the following, imbibe appropriately. Depending on your level of tolerance (for alcohol or for Jewish children’s books), you may want to limit yourself to one or two volumes per session. Or half of one.

Picture-book pastel bubbe with little round glasses? Do a shot of schnapps.

Learning to live/love again after war/terrorism? Bottoms up.

Old people are awesome? L’chaim.

Arachnid? Do a shot of Sammy (Hagar)’s Cabo Wabo.

Poultry? Do a shot of Wild Turkey.

Holocaust? EXEMPTION. DO NOT DRINK. If you had to drink every time one of these books mentioned the Holocaust, you would be too smashed to read within five minutes.

Hashem rendered as pastel blue gouache sky with puffy clouds? Amen! Do a shot!

Shtetl? Ya ha deedle deedle bubba bubba deedle deedle DRINK!

African-Americans and Jews: Brothers of another color? Alize-Manischevitz cocktail!

2011 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced by the Association of Jewish Libraries [The Book of Life]
Related: Where the Wild Things Aren’t [Tablet Magazine]
Children of the Book Part I [Tablet Magazine]
Children of the Book Part II [Tablet Magazine]

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This is freakin hilarious.

You forgot runaway foods/ritual objects.

So true. Although the Beautiful Chicken book was pretty great, despite the presence of poultry.

Sarah D. says:

Panoramic view of Lady Liberty and/or Ellis Island?

Also, I’m pretty sure I know a few parents who enjoy a good drinking game…

jahansell says:

Matzoh balls and menorahs…
wise old men / rabbis
innocent children who teach everyone a valuable lesson

I’m drunk already.

jahansell says:

Oh and pushcarts on the lower east side (Sidney Taylor would approve.)

You guys are GOOD.

In all seriousness 2010 was a banner year for literary poultry (Jewish and secular) for the wee. Maxine is LOVING “Interrupting Chicken,” winner of a Caldecott Honor this year.


I love this post! As if the Holocaust sub-genre of children’s (not YA, but children’s) literature wasn’t dissonant enough, I always thought the concept of picture books about the Shoah beyond The Pale. Oops. The Pale! Join me in a shot of slivovitz?

Now this is a game for Frume Sarah!

Ann Stampler says:

Uh oh! Do humans who behave like poultry count?

Ann Stampler
multiple-count offender and frequent recidivist

Eileen P. says:

Great idea! I can’t wait to invite my AJL group over for a round.

As I hope you know, Ann, your poultry-human was on my list of the best Jewish children’s books of the year, so i’chaim to you.

December Dilemma? a drought of eggnog!

i find this look at children’s books giddy.
not in keeping with the quality of other commentaries.
secular children’s books also fall into predictable stories and illustrations. i don’t believe children mind. they like a certain recognition value.

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I’ve said that least 4537934 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

I like this blog very much so much excellent info.


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Your Jewish Children’s Book Drinking Game


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