Anne Frank’s soulful eyes stared straight out at me from the cover of her diary. The dust-jacket copy promised that it was a story of puberty, of adolescence and much more. Later, I looked these words up.
“Eight is too young for a book like this, choose a more appropriate book,” the temple librarian advised me. That librarian couldn’t fool me. She was trying to keep me away from the first real Jewish book I had ever seen.
Sometimes I lament the fact that most Jewish picture books seem locked into an idealized middle-class America with a bubbe who never leaves the kitchen. Too few books seem to reflect the way most American Jews live… and very few reflect contemporary issues or modern Israel.
There is always a moment, and I swear an audible sigh, when my children, collectively and individually realize that Babar, Madeline, Alfie, Annie Rose, all the American Girls, and many other of their favorite book characters celebrate Christmas. In honor of that moment, my new book (Fall ’97) is about a little girl named Meera who rides a trike, loves her blankie, and also celebrates Chanukah.
Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of many children’s hooks including: Eve and Smitty: An Iowa Tale, Alef-Bet and Chicken Man. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.