LIZA’S BOOK CORNER: High praise for two books | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

LIZA’S BOOK CORNER: High praise for two books

“The Gray,” by Chris Baron, published by Feiwel & Friends

A standout! Illuminating, touching, and compassionate, this middle grade novel by Baron takes readers inside “the gray” space and broader experience of anxiety. It captures anxiety in a descriptive, thoughtful, and comprehensive way, giving words to how it transforms the mind, body, and soul. Baron created a story that embraces anxiety as a part of many people’s lives. Page after page, he helps to destigmatize and normalize this mental health issue, showing how it can be managed in a healthy way. The poetic narrative will grab readers, pulling them into Sasha’s story while providing a mirror and window into anxiety’s impact on the individual, family members, and friends. Throughout the entire book, Baron shares positive Jewish rep without any stereotypes. It’s beautiful, joyful, and fosters acceptance. 

“Ruth First Never Backed Down,” by Danielle Joseph, illustrated by Gabhor Utomo, published by Kat-Ben Publishing.

This is a powerful and important book about an ordinary Jewish woman taking extraordinary risks to speak out against apartheid. Although there is little Jewish content other than references to Ruth First’s parents fleeing Europe to find a safe haven in South Africa, we can learn a lot from Ruth’s story. Her courage is an inspiration, one that is steeped in Jewish values. Highly recommend as an outstanding introduction to an impressive person who had left a positive mark on this world. 

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.