Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Writers Wednesday -- A visit with a new work by Miriam Udel.


In HONEY ON THE PAGE: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature, Miriam Udel has compiled an exemplary collection of Yiddish children’s literature.


Drawing on works from Europe as well as North and South America, she has edited and translated poems and stories from the original Yiddish that offer readers not only the pleasure of the storytelling, but also a glimpse into Jewish history and culture. Udel is clearly a scholar, providing a depth of understanding in her Introduction, Notes to Young Readers and the succinct biographies that precede each author’s story. But don’t imagine for a moment that there is anything dry or stiff in this notable assembly of work. The stories and poems are charming and engaging and beautifully complimented by imaginative illustrations. The tone is delightfully conversational.

 The book is divided into eight thematic areas:

Jewish Holidays,

History and Heroes

Folktales, Fairy Tales, Wonder Tales

Wise Fools

Allegories, Parables, and Fables

School Days

In Life’s Classroom

Jewish Families, Here and There

 In her note TO THE YOUNG READER, Udel explains that her goal was to share stories that were appealing, but also teach readers about different cultures, places, and times. Her work takes the stories a step farther by also identifying shared ideas and experiences that readers would find relatable.

 A comprehensive Introduction provides a thoughtful discussion of Udel’s inspiration and methodology in selecting materials. She also takes care to ground the reader in the historic tradition of Jewish storytelling.

HONEY ON THE PAGE is an excellent resource for family reading because it will appeal to a broad audience from preschool to teenager to adult. Young readers will find enjoyable stories read by grownups.  Independent readers will find an immediate connection to some stories and, as they grow, have the opportunity to develop appreciation for others. Parents and librarians will discover a charming collection of new stories to share. Adults looking to widen their cultural experience or seeking to deepen their understanding of the rich tradition of Yiddish literature will find a well-researched resource here.

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