Ellen G. Cole, a retired librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC.
Feivel’s Flying Horses
Jewish woodcarvers star in this sweet tale of late 19th century immigrants. Feivel, third generation wood artist, journeys to New York for a better life with the clichéd $5.00. He must leave behind his family, a wife and four children, until he saves money for their passage. Despite working from the minute he arrives on the Lower East Side, saving takes years. Feivel misses his family terribly and sorely regrets not seeing his children grow up. Feivel toils, reduced from exalted synagogue Torah ark carvings to making furniture, until a cousin treats him to Coney Island. Astounded by the magnificent carousel and yearning for his artistic past, he spies a job opening for an experienced wood carver. Feivel designs and carves horses that capture the faraway family members he pines for. His Jewish identity is obvious when he sings Yiddish love songs at work and blessings in the synagogue. Feivel refuses to ride the finished carousel until his family rides with him. They arrive and happily mount their splendid, special horses. Feivel’s life, like his carousel, becomes a joyous, complete circle. The text gently delivers the pain of separation faced by myriad immigrants while smartly teaching about talented Jewish artisans and their rich contribution to American culture. The picture book’s art parallels the text in plot and emotion. Homey scenes in soft watercolor on two-page spreads deliver the magical milieu of Coney Island and its determined artist, well-fed, neat and (please note) blonde, whose sadness wells from separation, not the grime of a grinding ghetto. For ages 5 – 8.
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