The newest addition to theKids Speak series is out! It containsstories submitted to the editor by children 8 – 11 years of age and is filledwith tales of struggles between friends, classmates, peers, and authorityfigures. We all remember the personalproblems, fears, challenges and triumphs of the middle grades and, as a result,the authentic characters in this series speak to us all. Who hasn’t been bullied by a group, becomingthe one child who is the center of everyone’s attacks and unfriendliness? Who hasn’t been excluded from a group for noreason? And, perhaps, who hasn’t beenpart of the group doing the exclusion, without ever having thought of theeffect on the child who is being mistreated? Experiences that embarrass, frighten, worry, and bother children are allincluded. Negative relationships withteachers are also a topic of discussion. There are group dynamics, some positive and some negative. Many of the stories are rewarding and refreshing,those in which one child goes out of his or her way to include another or helpin some way. One particularly comes tomind, a story in which a big bully, called “Haman” by the boy who is excluded,realizes that despite his poor behavior, Chaim has put his life on the line totry to save Haman’s life. Many of thestories are uplifting and inspiring, though some are somewhat frightening untilthe resolution occurs. A glossary ofwords in Hebrew, Yiddish and Aramaic follows the stories. The children who have submitted these storiesidentify themselves by age and the city in Israel in which they live. In this book, the protagonists come fromJerusalem, Haifa, Beitar Illit, Kiryat Gat and Hadera; all are Orthodox. This book feels authentic and will appeal tochildren in the targeted middle age range. Children who are not Orthodox will be able to related to the very realexperiences that are shared. It can alsoserve as a read-aloud and as a trigger discussion opener. Recommended primarily for Orthodox childrenages 8 – 11 and all other Jewish children.
Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Specialist’s Certificate in information science. She is the library director and media specialist at the Moriah School in Englewood, NJ.