HOPE SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA: THE STORY OF A CHILD, A PAINTING, AND A PRESIDENT by Sydelle Pearl is illustrated by Ashtrid Sheckels and published by Twin Lights Publishers, 2012.
A little African-American girl becomes the subject of a 1934 New Deal painting, “Somewhere in America” by Robert Brackman and meets President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor in this historical fiction picture book.
This book’s title is taken from a portrait of an African American girl with her teddy bear, which was painted by Robert Brackman in 1934 as part of President Roosevelt’s Public Works of Art Project. In simple, graceful prose, Pearl imagines the child’s story, and the first-person narrative is extended in the handsome, realistic, detailed watercolor paintings that show Hope at home with her mother in Harlem, then sitting with her teddy bear for a portrait by Brackman, and then, after the portrait is hung, meeting the president and his wife. Now the picture is part of a national touring exhibit, 1934: A New Deal for Artists, organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. A final note distinguishes history and fiction and includes a reproduction of Brackman’s original painting. Many kids will see themselves in Hope, even as they will be moved to imagine the lives of more people that they see in pictures.
Iconic art often has very human stories behind it. “Hope Somewhere in America: The Story of a Child, a Painting, and a President” is a children’s picture book from Sydelle Pearl focusing on the girl in the iconic painting ‘Somewhere in America’. Illustrator Astrid Sheckels captures the style of original artist Robert Brackman, telling the story of a young black girl and how the painting allowed her to meet with President Roosevelt. “Hope Somewhere in America” is a moving tale, very much recommended for those seeking to choose a children’s picture book with a good dose of history.
HOPE SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA is cute, colorful, charming and a little cheeky, and based fictionally on a real painting. That very interesting “extra” may lend more meaning for 5-8 year olds who might appreciate what’s going on in author Sydelle Pearl’s tale, especially if you can catch the real painting on tour or in the Smithsonian. As for smaller kids, I think that, while the illustrations are wonderful, this book may be a challenge for a flock of wiggly toddlers. They may like the story, but it’s longish for that age group. Still, give it a whirl and see what happens, particularly if your child loves to draw. For a little artist-in-the-making, HOPE SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA will paint a wonderful picture.
—from Terri Schlichenmeyer’s book review that appeared in North Dallas Gazette; Las Vegas Review-Journal; Harlem News Group; PBG Magazine (Palm Beach Garden Magazine); Mississippi Link; The Sojourner’s Truth.
Featured book at Books by the Banks: Cincinnati Book Festival 2013
Listed in Teaching Tolerance in Fall of 2014
HOPE SOMEWHERE IN PITTSBURGH is the historical fiction picture book sequel to HOPE SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA. Hope, the subject of a 1934 New Deal painting by Robert Brackman, learns the history behind a portrait of Mrs. Dilworth that was presented to the Pittsburgh Dilworth School during the opening ceremony in 1915. Along the way, Hope also learns about important historical figures that relate to the history of Pittsburgh.
BOOKS FOR CHILDREN OF THE WORLD: THE STORY OF JELLA LEPMAN is illustrated by Danlyn Iantorno and published by Pelican Publishing Company, 2007.
In this picture book biography, Sydelle Pearl describes how Jella Lepman fled her a native Germany during the Nazi era but returned to help the Americans rebuild the country after World War II. Jella believed that children’s books in different languages and about different cultures could become ambassadors of peace. She established the International Youth Library that opened in 1949 in Munich.
ISBN for hardcover book: 9781589804388
ISBN for ebook: 9781455601455
…Sydelle Pearl’s Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman is a beautifully written homage to a very courageous woman and the library she founded. Lepman believed that just as her letters were doves of peace, books were messengers of peace and the idea of peace is a clear message in her work. Pearl is herself a librarian and it is easy to see that believes in the power of books…
…this biography will introduce a remarkable woman to all who read it…
—Jewish Book World Magazine
Sydelle Pearl celebrates the life of International Youth Library founder Jella Lepman, a compassionate and courageous woman who believed in the power of books to change the world…
Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman by Sydelle Pearl and illustrated by Danlyn Iantorno tells the true story of a Jewish woman who fled Germany during World War II but returned after the war to make sure German children living in the rubble and destruction that the war had brought had access to good books from around the world. She translated the story of Ferdinand the Bull into German, publishing it as a newspaper for 30,000 children and ultimately established a library, convincing governments from around the world to donate books for the cause.
…This is a story about the joy that books bring to children, and it does just that. Whether this story is being read to children or they are reading it themselves, they will appreciate how lucky they are to be reading!
—Oneota Reading Journal
…An inspirational story…
A great real-life story with an important message of freedom.
Listed on the Anti-Bias and Multicultural Book List of the Anti-Defamation League from 2007-2014
DEAR MR. LONGFELLOW: LETTERS TO AND FROM THE CHILDREN’S POET by Sydelle Pearl contains archival photographs and is published by Prometheus Books, 2012.
This biography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow contains selected poems, photographs of the poet and his family, and birthday letters from the children who wrote to him. DEAR MR. LONGFELLOW brings to life a famous figure of American literature and the Victorian age in the history of our country.
Prometheus Books is distributed by Penguin Random House.
Penguin Random House, Inc.
400 Hahn Road
Westminster, MD 21157 U.S.A.
Click here to order the book from Amazon.
Meticulously researched, Dear Mr. Longfellow uses letters written by actual children to their beloved poet to re-create, in rich and often moving detail, the life of a writer who took his readers seriously, and none more so than the youngest of them. Living up to Longfellow’s model, Sydelle Pearl has written a book that I imagine will appeal to readers of all ages.
—Christoph Irmscher, Author of Longfellow Redux
This unique homage to Longfellow will be a welcome addition to any library. Pearl’s collecting of letters and connection of them to Longfellow’s life is fascinating. A wonderful, heartfelt read.
—Lee Bennett Hopkins, Author of Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry has long had a special appeal to children. This delightful book documents the special bond between the poet and his young readers during his lifetime and how that enthusiasm for his work continues to this day.
—Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., Maine state historian
A fresh and delightful way to learn about what Longfellow’s poems meant to his young readers.
—Mayor Henrietta Davis, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Too many biographies can be terribly daunting to pick up due to their dense dryness, laboriously fact-filled pages, and absence of any whimsy or creative verve. Dear Mr. Longfellow is not one of those tedious tomes. Rather, it is an enchanting resource about the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What makes it so utterly charming and comfortably accessible is that his life is narrated through a treasure trove of letters he sent to and received from his numerous literary admirers during his lifetime. The book includes primary source photographs of the featured letters, portraits of Longfellow and his family (including his adorable shaggy dog), and various other pictures of his homes, tree-lined neighborhoods, and quill pen. Speckled throughout are samplings of his most revered poems, such as “The Village Blacksmith” and “From My Armchair,” which he wrote as a gift to the Cambridge school children after they raised funds to have a gorgeous chair made for him out of a chestnut tree, which Longfellow described in his poetry. This is a sensational book for a young patron who needs reading material on a famous person. Make sure, however, to recommend it to a sentimental soul who relishes the beauty of language and would appreciate the slow bloom of someone’s quietly remarkable life. Anyone hoping for adrenaline-pumped thrills, surging suspense, and dramatic grit will most certainly be disappointed. Ages 11 to 15.
—VOYA – Suzanne Osman
Poetry for Children: About Finding and Sharing Poetry with Young People, a blog by Sylvia Vardell
Saturday, April 6, 2013
And while we’re looking at classic poets, check out Sydelle Pearl’s recent book, Dear Mr. Longfellow: Letters To and From the Children’s Poet, a lovely book that combines biographical notes about poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with letters from contemporaneous child readers, including facsimiles of many letters and images of Longfellow throughout his life—a unique poet biography.
PSLA Top 40 (or so) 2012 Titles Nonfiction and Professional Pearl, Sydelle. Dear Mr. Longfellow: Letters To and From the Children’s Poet New York: Prometheus, 2012. 978-1-61614-638-2. 233p. $16.25. Gr. 8-12.
“Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, lovingly referred to as the children’s poet, lived up to his name. He was revered and venerated by children of various ages who sent him birthday wishes and visited him at home, where they were always welcomed. Sydelle Pearl has written a beautiful account of the poet’s life, including letters to and from his intimate friends and devoted admirers and selections from his own prominent poetry. Bibliographical references and index are included in the back.”
—Christine Massey, JW Parker Middle School (click here to view, scroll to page 9)
Noted on the list of Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2013 edition, by the Children’s Book Committee at the Bank Street College of Education. Click here to view, scroll to page 17.
ELIJAH’S TEARS: STORIES FOR THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS by Sydelle Pearl is illustrated by Rossitza Skorcheva and published by Pelican Publishing Company, 2004.
Five original folktales deeply rooted in Jewish tradition that feature the prophet Elijah and the holidays of Shabbat, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Passover.
ISBN for hardcover book: 9781589801783
ISBN for ebook: 9781455603817
ELIJAH’S TEARS is full of beautiful stories and insight into Jewish folklore. The stories will touch your heart.
. . . compelling, sometimes ethereal. . .
. . . delicate beauty abundant in simple acts of compassion. . .
. . .Iyrical…
. . . a splendid addition to Elijah folklore. . .
—Jewish Book World
. . . five original spectacular short stories. . .
—Ottawa Jewish Bulletin
Storytelling World Honor Title 1997
Appeared on the Best Books List of the Bank Street College of Education in 1998
American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists”
WHY BEAR HAS A SHORT TAIL, illustrated by Anica Delia Budeanu, published by Reading Reading Books, 2015. A retelling of a Norwegian folktale, published by Reading Reading Books and illustrated by Anca Delia Budeanu.
Guided Reading Level J, Reading Recovery Level 17, 318 words
Children’s Bookwatch December 2015
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review 278 Orchard Drive Oregon, WI 53575
Why Bear Has a Short Tail
Sydelle Pearl, author
Anca Delia Budeanu, illustrator
Reading Reading Books
P.O. Box 6654, Reading, PA 19610
9781608925438, $4.95, www.rrbooks.com
The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf
“Why Bear Has a Short Tail” is an imaginative retelling of a Norwegian folktale for preschool children and early readers. In this traditional legend, bears used to have long, beautiful tails. One day a bear met a fox in the woods, carrying a pail of fish. The bear was hungry and asked the fox to teach him to fish. The fox was envious of the bear’s long, beautiful tail, so a way to trick the bear occurred to the devious fox. Children will love the primitive, simply styled illustrations of the chocolate brown long-tailed bear and the crafty red fox with his pain of fish. “Why Bear Has a Short Tail” is a children’s classic, with a built-in lesson for kids of all ages.
…Wordwings is a story of exquisite bravery and spirit…Author Sydelle Pearl has created a wonderful work of historical fiction that poignantly allows the middle school and young adult reader to enter the harrowing world of the Warsaw Ghetto through the eyes of a young and sympathetic protagonist.
—Rena Citrin, Library Director, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, Chicago.
[Editors’ Note: Wordwings is a 2018 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Older Readers.]
Review appeared in AJL (Association of Jewish Libraries) Reviews March/April 2018.
…The story of ‘The Jewish Geese’ is especially wonderful. I leave that for the readers of Wordwings to discover…
—Dr. Diane Cypkin, Professor of Media, Communication, and Visual Arts at Pace University. [Review appeared in Martyrdom and Resistance (page 4) in the January/February 2018 issue, published by the American and International Societies for Yad Vashem–the Holocaust Memorial in Israel.]
It is astonishing how Sydelle Pearl, in Wordwings, manages to capture a young girl’s love of stories and to show how that love can not only ease the pain of suffering and persecution and loss but lift the spirits of so many in the midst of such darkness.
—Bruce Black, Founder and Editorial Director of The Jewish Writing Project
It is very well written and the stories are very touching.
—Dr. Samuel Kassow, author of Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive
I am on vacation and read “Wordwings” this morning. I found it to be excellent! We will add it to our website when I get back (Feb 5th) and recommend it via our list-serve which reaches 4000 people.
Your ability to tell the story and develop the characters was outstanding! I felt as though I was there. We will especially encourage our educators to use “Wordwings” in Middle schools and High schools. Thanks again for bringing your work to my attention.
—Lawrence Glaser, Executive Director, NJ Commission on Holocaust Education
…The award-winning Sydelle Pearl’s Wordwings is a poignant depiction of these tragic, yet uplifting events, written as the diary of twelve-year-old. It is an especially good work to introduce the Holocaust to younger readers, but enjoyable for adults as well. If there is hope to be found in such horror, Ms. Pearl offers it in the words of a child who imagines her words pushing up from the ground and taking wing.
…I highly recommend Wordwings to anyone interested in the Holocaust, WWII, or simply historical fiction. It is a valuable addition to the literature of the Holocaust, and has been named a Notable Book for Older Readers by the 2018 Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.
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