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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Graphic Details exhibition launch in Toronto - tomorrow night

The Summer 2010 issue of Lilith contained a short item about the travelling exhibition Graphic Details on page 47. Specific people mentioned in the item were Michael Kaminer, Sarah Lightman, Diane Noomin, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Trina Robbins. The item included reproductions of art by Bernice Eisenstein and Vanessa Davis.

The item incorrectly stated that the exhibition would be moving to Toronto in March. In fact, the Koffler Center's opening night event will be held tomorrow (Feb. 17th) at the Gladstone Hotel.

The exhibition has been getting additional publicity via the Sisterhood blog at the Jewish Daily Forward and the Jewish Women's Archive blog. The 2 blogs are cross-posting interviews with those involved with the show.

Interview with Miss Lasko-Gross

Q: How does your Jewish identity influence your work?
L-G: I don't know that it does, but in the auto-bio game having a genetic predisposition to being a neurotic mess doesn't hurt.

Interview with Sarah Lightman

Q: How does your Jewish identity influence your work?

SL: I am finding my relationship to being Jewish is constantly evolving as I get older. I found at some points the texts and writings were most important, and now I am finding greatest joy from finding communities of Jewish artists who make similar art to me. I have felt for a number for years that my contribution to Jewish life and history will be a cultural one. For example, when I curated shows for The Ben Uri Gallery, London Jewish Museum of Art, I was committed to creating opportunities for contemporary artists. One pleasing result was giving Jewish artists an opportunity to display work that expressed their identity and their lives, and ensuring a supportive audience for this work. I felt most excited by the creative ways the artists engaged with Judaism and their Jewish experience.

Interview with Michael Kaminer

What interested you about the trend of Jewish women doing autobiographical comics you observed at the 2008 Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Expo in New York?

The story kind of told itself. I was on the lookout for women artists because that’s a large part of what I collect. Their voices always seem sharper, the powers of observation more refined, and the humor riotous. I probably had my Jewish filter up because I was a contributing editor to a magazine called Jewish Living at the time. And the autobiographical element just emerged as a common thread among the artists I encountered. When Jewish Living tanked, I took the story to the Forward, and the piece — which ran in December 2008 — became “Graphic Details,” the show.

Interview with Trina Robbins

Q: How does your Jewish identity influence your work?

TR: Sorry, not much. I've done a few stories that I consider Jewish-identified, like the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, which my father had told to me growing up, or my adaptation of Hirsch Glick's Die Parteznaer Lied, which I did with Sharon Rudahl, but mostly what influences my work is that I'm a woman.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Hereville gets even more attention

Earlier today, Laurel Snyder (author of Baxter the Kosher Pig) interviewed Barry Deutsch (author of Hereville which won the 2011 Sydney Taylor Award (Older Readers category).

Below is an excerpt :

Meanwhile, just one last little thing, in parting– Do you think books can change the world?

Definitely, but only the way a conversation can change the world, or a speech, or a TV show. Everything we do changes the world somehow, but usually the changes are very tiny. So to make a big change you need thousands of people (and thousands of books), all pushing to change the world in some direction. A good example is, are there going to be some engaging and interesting Jewish girl characters in kids books? If just one or two books do that, the answer is “no,” but if a whole bunch of us do it, the answer becomes “yes,” and that will make a small but consequential difference in the lives of a lot of Jewish girl readers who want to see themselves reflected in books.

To read the full interview, please go to

The webcomic Unshelved (formerly known as Overdue) hosted a review of Hereville, review written by Gene Ambaum (as part of its Unshleved Book Club feature-within-a-feature).

As with all Unshelved, reviews, the page is done comic style, but also contains reproductions of 2 pages from the Hereville graphic novel. So it's like reading 3 comic pages --- but crammed onto a single page. It's quite nice, actually.

To read the review, please go to

Sunday, February 06, 2011

2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour - Interview with Carla Jablonski

For the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour, Steven Bergson agreed to interview Carla Jablonski.

The full schedule for the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour may be found at the bottom of this blog post.

Carla is the author of the graphic novel Resistance : Book 1 (illustrated by Leland Purvis), which is a Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner (Older Readers category). The Sydney Taylor Awards are presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

SB: The wrap-around symbolic cover, shows Paul about to fire a slingshot at the helmet of an SS soldier - a scene which doesn't appear in the story itself. Was that a scene which you cut or did you decide not to use an image from within the book?

CJ: The cover is meant to represent the tone and subject of the book, rather than be a literal illustration of any scene in the story. The same is true of the next two books as well. I love the covers, by the way, especially the wrap-around element!

SB: A common criticism of children's books which depict the Holocaust era is that they are either too violent or too mild. In Resistance, the only violence shown is the shooting of a member of the resistance, red blood flowing from his body. Did your editors have a problem with that scene? Will there be acts of violence depicted in the next 2 books of the series?

CJ: The editors had no issue with the level of violence -- in fact, that scene was included in the proposal the publisher read before deciding whether or not to buy the book.

For me, violence must always be considered in context: what makes sense and is effective for the story. It was very important to me that the way the children work with the Resistance be believable and plausible. The circumstances in which they find themselves are dangerous, and the threat of violence is ever-present, underlying everything they do, but they aren’t engaged in armed combat because they wouldn’t be. Things change a bit in Book 3: Victory ; the characters are older (each book is set a year apart), and the final book in the trilogy includes the volatile and explosive liberation of Paris.

SB: The use of the underground sewers to move around the city in secret has been used in other works, such as Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera and Arvid Nelson's Rex Mundi comic book series. This may be the first literary reference to the buried skulls of the 18th century. Could you tell us more about that?

CJ: That idea actually came from the artist, Leland Purvis. He’d been to Paris and seen the sewers and the skulls and was eager to draw it. He sent me photos and then I did research both online and in the books I was reading for references to the catacombs. What I hadn’t realized was that the catacombs were a big tourist attraction back in the 19th century. For a graphic novel you’re always looking for settings that will work on many levels and the catacombs serve beautifully that way.

SB: You've said that the ideal age for the book is 13, which would place it in the Teen / YA section of the library. Does it surprise you that I borrowed my copy from the Children's Graphic Novels section of a Toronto Public Library branch, where it was shelved alongside such titles as Andy Runton's Owly and Jeff Smith's Bone?

CJ: Not really… it depends on the reading level of the reader. I’ve gotten fan mail for this book from a 9-year-old and a 50-year-old. The book has been categorized as a middle-grade and as a YA (In fact, it was just included on the “2011 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens” list and is on the “Texas Maverick Graphic Novel” list for 6-12th grade. Its category doesn’t matter to me as long as kids can find it!

SB: When did the idea for writing the Resistance books come to you? Was there a particular event that occurred which inspired you to write it?

The war in Iraq, actually, got me wondering about what it would be like to live in an occupied country. I was also interested in the tensions between an experience as it is happening vs. history or hindsight.

SB: The central character of Resistance is Paul - an aspiring young artist whose ability to draw becomes an asset and whose sketches are shown throughout the story. Were you influenced at all by the graphic novel Yossel : April 19, 1943 by Joe Kubert, whose protagonist is also a young artist whose art both helps him survive and allows him to document the uprising in sketches?

CJ: I’m not familiar with that book, so no. I made the decision to make Paul an artist because I wanted an organic way to incorporate and embrace the visual aspect of the storytelling. And I needed to give him a skill that would be useful to the Resistance. So it was both an aesthetic and a pragmatic plot choice.

When I was first thinking about working in this medium I read all kinds of comics and graphic novels - for kids and adults -- though none about this period of history. When :01 (First Second) bought the project, I read many of their titles, because their books are a specific size and I wanted to have a good sense of how a page in their format worked visually.

The historical research I did was varied - I read everything from histories of French wine-making to watching propaganda videos. I was very excited to find two memoirs in the Brooklyn Public Library: one written by a British pilot who was sent to work with the French Resistance and was published in 1947 (according to the stamp inside the back cover, it had last been read in 1965!), and another by a man who joined a Jewish Maquis group (French guerilla resistance fighters) and which seems to have been self-published in the ‘60s. Also very valuable were Marianne in Chains by Robert Gildea, Soldiers of the Night by David Schoenbrun, Sisters in the Resistance by Margaret Collins Weitz, and Is Paris Burning? by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. The book Wine and War by Don and Petie Kladstrup gave me the idea to make the Tessier family wine-makers. I also spent a lot of time in the New York Public Library Picture Collection looking at images, both for inspiration and for reference for Leland. (It’s probably obvious by now that I’m a history/research/library geek -- and proud of it!)

The 2nd book in the trilogy - Defiance - is expected to be released in the Spring.

To learn more about Carla, check out her other interviews.

Boston Bibliophile


Looking Glass Review

2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour Schedule

Carla Jablonski, author of Resistance
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Jewish Comics

Leland Purvis, illustrator of Resistance
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Shelf-Employed

Sarah Gershman, author of Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Biblio File


Linda Glaser, author of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at ASHarmony

Claire Nivola, illustrator of Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Lori Calabrese

Evelyn Krieger, author of One Is Not a Lonely Number
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at Ima On and Off the Bima


Barbara Diamond Goldin, author of Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Great Kid Books

Jaime Zollars, illustrator of Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at The Book of Life

Susan Lynn Meyer, author of Black Radishes
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at The 3 Rs – Reading, ‘Riting & Research


Howard Schwartz, author of Gathering Sparks
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Boston Bibliophile

Barry Deutsch, author and illustrator of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
at BewilderBlog

Dana Reinhardt, author of The Things a Brother Knows
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy


Kristina Swarner, illustrator of Gathering Sparks
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
and illustrator of Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
at Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog

Sarah Darer Littman, author of Life, After
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at Into the Wardrobe

Eishes Chayil, author of Hush
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at Frume Sarah’s World


Morris Gleitzman, author of Once
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
at The Fourth Musketeer

Sydney Taylor Award Winners – Wrap-Up
All winners, all categories
at The Whole Megillah