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Sydney Taylor

Thursday, 16 February 2006

On my way to lunch today, I was thinking about books. Typical since I am almost always thinking about books. It so happens that I was thinking about what book I will start reading next. Strange, I know. But I worry about this. What if I finish a book and I don’t already have another title lined up and ready to go? Of course, this makes it seem as though I only read one book at a time and that’s simply not the case. I am generally in the midst of several books simultaneously.

As I was considering my next read, I thought back to one of my favourite childhood books and decided it is time to revisit Sydney Taylor’s series. Poppyseed is still to young to enjoy them and I don’t want to wait another 5 years to reread them. That got me to thinking about the author herself. I know nothing about her! All I know is that I love her books and that a Jewish literary award is named in her honour.

A wonderful essay about Sydney Taylor appears on the Nextbook.org website. How ironic (?) that it should appear just this week — the same week that I was thinking about this very thing. It turns out that Sydney Taylor’s given name was Sarah and that she is the middle sister…with four sisters named Ella, Hennrietta, Charlotte, and Gertrude. Just like the book! There were four brothers, but, for reasons the article does not clarify, only one brother appears in her stories. These tales were originally conceived as stories that Mrs. Taylor would share with her own daughter and only became public when Mr. Taylor clandestinely entered one of his wife’s manuscripts in a writing contest.

The essay, by author Melanie Rehak, is a particularly well-written and interesting one. It brings to light, however, a fact I found disheartening; Sydney Taylor had come out of this joyful childhood only to become an assimilated Jew. How does this happen? What hope do we have to raise children who will remain engaged and commited Jews when the childhood we offer is not steeped in Judaism as in earlier generations?

Maybe my angst has just been furthered by the valentine-incident of two days ago. Who knows. I mentioned it to the classroom teacher who wasn’t exactly clear what the problem was. [Um…Jesus in the public school? Problem seems pretty clear to me.] Maybe I just worry that despite my best efforts to expose my children and their contemporaries to an exciting, meaningful, and beautiful faith and heritage, it just won’t be enough. And I will have failed.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    Friday, 17 February 2006 3:55 am

    Thanks for the post and the link to the article. I haven’t thought about the All of a kind family in years. I used to read them over and over again when I was a kid (when I could find them in the library that is) and even bought them as an adult.

  2. Rivster permalink
    Friday, 17 February 2006 6:40 am

    Me too! Poppyseed is sleeping but I’m going to snag my copies back and read the first one over the weekend.

    Take care…:)

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