Hereville in the Jewish Daily Forward

On April 7, 2011 · Comments Off on Hereville in the Jewish Daily Forward

Nice article about Hereville in the Jewish Daily Forward, one of the preeminent Jewish publications in the USA. Here’s a quote from the article:

Mirka’s life as a Hasidic Jew is a fundamental part of her character, but no superfluous attention is called to her religion.

“I definitely don’t want to write a textbook, but painlessly without lecturing people, give readers the impression of how Mirka’s life feels to Mirka,” Deutsch explained.

One of the most effective ways he accomplishes this is with the inclusion of Shabbat in the story.

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Immediately after being charged with her quest, rather than set out, Mirka rushes home to celebrate Shabbat. For the next nine pages the action of the book is completely halted and the Sabbath is observed; its traditions described in detail. “The reason I have the story line pretty much stop dead and then pick up like snap when Shabbos is over,” Deutsch explained, “is because you’re supposed to put away your weekday concerns and not let them interfere with Shabbos, and I thought it was the most direct way of communicating that to the reader.”

“It’s a break from the other things going on and hopefully a really joyful break because of how special Shabbos time is to Mirka.”

Mirka’s sense of religious duty and the joy she takes in it, combined with her adventure-seeking personality, makes her a compelling character in children’s literature.

The catch line on “Hereville”’s cover reads, “Yet Another Troll-Fighting 11-Year-Old Orthodox Jewish Girl.” Though meant to be tongue-in-cheek, in many ways Deutsch’s character is just that.

By normalizing the rhythm and values of Jewish life, rather than singling them out as a topic for discussion, he manages to make Mirka just another adventure seeking pre-teen … who just so happens to be Jewish.

Read the whole article here.

Many thanks to Laurie Kamens, the author of the article, who was a delight to talk to.

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