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Literary Love

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I recently came across a copy of the 1993 obituary for Ralph Taylor.

“Who is Ralph Taylor?” you might ask. Apparently the co-owner of Caswell-Massey (who knew??). More impressively (to me, at any rate), Ralph Taylor was the husband of Sydney Taylor, who remains known for introducing generations of Jewish kids to the Lower East Side. Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. With a baby brother, Charlie, arriving at the end of the first of the five-book series and introducing this Reform school girl to a Pidyon ha-Ben (Benny the Pigeon, anyone?). It was Ralph Taylor who slyly entered his wife’s manuscript for consideration of the Charles W. Follett award for writing. Which she won.

I wish I could remember who introduced me to these books. I wish that I could remember so that I could express my gratitude for inserting me into a world not unlike that known to my grandparents. Through Taylor’s vivid storytelling, I searched for buttons in the front room alongside Mama’s girls. When I got my ears pierced at the mall, I was surprised to find that I did not have loops made of candle wicks in my lobes like Sarah. And I was introduced to a new colour (ecru) after Henny frantically tried to cover-up the tea stain on Ella’s white linen dress. I have loved these girls and their stories for nearly three decades. I loved that their stories and experiences mirrored the ones of my family and me.

The importance of providing a literary portal for Jewish children and teens cannot be emphasized enough. As a religious, ethnic, and cultural minority, Jewish kids can feel marginalized without seeing their own experiences refracted through the stories of others. The Association of Jewish Libraries has been recognizing outstanding Jewish children’s literature since 1968. As a tribute to his wife, Ralph Taylor helped to continue this tradition by supporting the creation of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Each year, books, their authors, and, in some cases, their illustrators are honoured for their outstanding contribution to Jewish literature.

New this year is a blog tour. Based on the idea of a book tour, this virtual tour will be located on various blogs throughout the blogosphere. And I am so excited that the blog tour’s 2nd stop will be right here at Frume Sarah’s World on Monday, February 1, 2010.

You are cordially invited!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Thursday, 28 January 2010 12:28 am

    A virtual book tour- I like it.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 29 January 2010 5:00 pm

      I know…what a fun idea!!!

  2. homeshuling permalink
    Thursday, 28 January 2010 8:22 pm

    Sidney Taylor and I exchanged letters for several years when i was a little girl, about the same as as my daughter (ella). I loved her books and treasure those typed letters on personalized stationary….

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 29 January 2010 5:01 pm

      OMG — that is sooooo COOL!!!!! What special treasures 🙂

  3. Thursday, 28 January 2010 8:37 pm

    i love this post because this is why we’re friends. i adore AOAKF – always have. this past summer, i took the lower east side tour in nyc and when we went by the henry street settlement house, i got all excited. the tourguide hadn’t READ the books…i was very disappointed in her.

    my favorite part – when they do the candy in bed thing. for some reason, that totally tickled my fancy.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 29 January 2010 5:03 pm

      First of all — I am just APPALLED that the tour guide had never read the books. Just appalled!!

      Next — isn’t that a great tour??? It was so thrilling to visit the places from the book.

      Finally — I loved it too. And I love that we are friends 🙂

  4. Dadgifaffe permalink
    Thursday, 28 January 2010 10:59 pm

    It is soooo exciting that Frume Sarah’s World will be #2 on the blog tour…and truly fitting. Mazal Tov!!!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 29 January 2010 5:03 pm

      I am so thrilled to be participating 🙂

  5. Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:44 pm

    Oooooh! I love AOAKF, too! Just another reason to love reading your blog (and Ima on the Bima and Homeshuling, too).

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Friday, 29 January 2010 5:04 pm

      Thanks! I admit that there is an awful lot that the three bloggers have in common!?!

  6. Monday, 1 February 2010 10:45 pm

    I appreciate this post.

    It is vital to have “literary portals.” This is definite food for thought, no matter what your religion or background.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 2 February 2010 11:59 am

      Thanks. I do agree that everyone needs literary portals. It allows us to enter worlds we never even imagined.

      My specific point was to comment on my experience as both a Jewish girl and (now) a mom of Jewish kids and how isolating it can feel when books (as well as movies and television shows) portray characters and events that are so different from our experiences.

  7. Tuesday, 2 February 2010 4:39 pm

    i had no idea about caswell-massey!!

    i too adored this series, and it is such a pleasure to share it with my own daughter! (one of the delicious, less-heralded joys of parenthood: rediscovering great chapter books through your kids’ eyes.) sarah getting served the same dinner over and over until she caves, sobbing, and takes a bite — that puts josie’s and my power plays into perspeective!


  1. Bringing Words to Life « Frume Sarah's World

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