“Luis de Torres Sails to Freedom,” by Tami Lehman-Wilzig, illustrated by Oliver Averill, published by Kar-Ben Publishing
This impassioned and impressive picture book shares the struggles the Jewish people of Spain faced doing the Spanish Inquisition. It illuminates the choices Luis de Torres might have faced to retain his Jewish identity. Although this is a work of historical fiction, the author provides plausible scenarios for Luis’s experience as interpreter for Christopher Columbus. Centered around Tisha B’Av, readers will learn more about this important day in Jewish history and how it’s observed. Highly recommend.
“The Jake Show,” by Josh S. Levy, published by Katherine Tegen Books
In this beautifully written middle grade book, Jake aka Yaakov, struggles with his Jewish identity. He’s torn between his divorced parents and what they think is best for him, especially for school, camp, and Jewish practices. His father identifies as a secular Jew and wants Jake to follow in his footsteps. His mother, a Torah observant Jew, expects Yaakov to immerse himself in all Jewish practices. Levy expertly shows the push/pull that can be forced upon a child of divorced parents, one who is caught in the middle and deeply wants to please both parents. It’s a heartbreaking and eye-opening book with an emotional positive ending that surely will lead to outstanding discussions. I highly recommend this powerful and insightful read for anyone 9-years-old and up.
Educator and author Liza Wiemer, of Fox Point, has taught in nine of our Milwaukee-area Jewish religious schools and day schools. Her latest novel,“The Assignment,” is appropriate for ages 12 and up.