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Books for Children of the World: The Story of Jella Lepman Hardcover – February 28, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–Jella Lepman, a German Jew, spent World War II in England, writing for British and American newspapers. After the war, at the behest of the U.S. Army, she returned to Germany as a cultural and educational advisor. She concluded that literature would bring hope and build understanding, and worked to establish a traveling International Exhibition of Children's Books, followed by a permanent International Youth Library. As readers learn in the author's note, Lepman was also the founder of IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People. This story is based on her memoir, A Bridge of Children's Books. A framework has been drawn from the adult title, but the facts have been oversimplified and little historical context is provided to support them. Too much focus is placed on the administration of Lepman's projects, and too little on her mission and on the power of literature to help the children of Germany. There is surely an emotional wallop hiding behind the dull recitation of events, yet Pearl's text fails to connect with readers. Like the story, the colored-pencil illustrations are overly self-conscious; many have that photographic quality of having caught someone in an awkward moment. There are many static scenes, as well as fanciful symbols such as doves and country outlines decorated with the colors of their flags. Not quite factual enough for reports, not engaging enough for pleasure reading, this title does little to fill the gap on the subject of Lepman's important work.–Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Inside Flap
Jella Lepman fled to England from Germany during World War II. After the war, she was asked by the United States Army to return to her home country as a cultural and educational advisor.
As Jella was driven through the ruins of Germany in a U.S. Army jeep, she realized that in addition to food, clothing, and shelter, the children needed books because so many had been destroyed. She soon thought of a way to help bring some peace and hope to the children and their families.
Understanding the children's deep hunger for reading, Jella wrote letters to publishers all over the world and asked for donations of books. These donations became an exhibition that traveled throughout Germany. Seeing how much children wanted a book of their own to touch and to keep, Jella personally translated a beloved story into German and persuaded a newspaper to print 30,000 copies so she could distribute them.
Jella then asked the Rockefeller Foundation in the United States for money to build a library, and in 1949, the International Youth Library opened in Munich. The research collection today contains 500,000 children's books in over 130 languages. Books continue to be donated by various countries, forever honoring the spirit of Jella Lepman and her belief that books truly can make the world a better place.
Sydelle Pearl is a professional storyteller and children's librarian who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her previous book with Pelican, Elijah's Tears: Stories for the Jewish Holidays, was an ABA Pick of the List title and a Storytelling World Honor Award Honoree in 1997. It was also named one of the Best Books for 1998 by the Children's Book Committee at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City.
Danlyn Iantorno lives in Thornton, Colorado, where she is a graphic designer and artist. She is a graduate of the Art Institute of Colorado and a member of the Colorado Alliance of Illustrators and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
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I enjoyed this book. I found it interesting how she found funding to start a library. I also liked that she took the initiative to get books printed that she could give to the children. The book was Ferdinand the Bull, which was a favorite of mine from childhood.
I recommend this book for 7-10 year olds.