The two writers featured in this month’s Personal Pages: Meet the Author at The Tower of David on Monday, June 19, have created children’s books based centuries apart.
Jessica Steinberg’s “Not This Turkey!” is set in present-day New York. Shirley Graetz’s “Young Gilgamesh and the Enchanted Garden” is a retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian myth, thousands of years old.
Steinberg, known to readers here as the Culture and Lifestyle editor at The Times of Israel, based her children’s book on a real-life incident when a friend’s father brought home a live turkey just before Thanksgiving.
“I’m a New Yorker. I couldn’t imagine a live turkey on the subway. He shlepped it home and it slept in their apartment for a few nights,” says Steinberg.
The illustrations by Amanda Pike capture the action on New York’s bustling streets as the fictional family’s father leads the wild gobbler home on a leash through the busy subway system.
In the story, Mel and his little brother befriend the turkey their father has brought home and name it Indik, the Yiddish word for turkey. But what will become of their new playmate as Thanksgiving approaches? It’s a funny and touching story about the immigrant experience that reminds us how we all have to adapt to new situations now and then — but we always have something to bring to the table.
Shirley Graetz’s first novel “She Wrote on Clay” used her scholarly experience as an expert in ancient texts written in cuneiform on clay tablets (she earned a PhD in the subject from Ben-Gurion University) to recount the story of a young woman scribe nearly 4,000 years ago on the banks of the Euphrates.
“Young Gilgamesh and the Enchanted Garden” takes readers beyond the ancient world to the mythology that formed its cultural roots. In ancient Mesopotamia, Gilagmesh was a demigod who used his superhuman strength to defeat his enemies and build cities.
“He was half human, half god and he was a tyrant. Until he found his match, and then he calmed down and went on adventures,” says Graetz.
Graetz crowdfunded the book through Headstart. With illustrations by Uriel Zohar, Graetz says the book — which has already been published in Hebrew — is the perfect children’s introduction to ancient mythology.
“I thought it would be great for kids to get to know this character, and maybe they’d be more open to read the real epic,” she says. “I wanted to make it as parallel as possible to the real epic, with the atmosphere and the fact that Gilgamesh is kind of a loner because he’s different.”
Jessica Steinberg and Shirley Graetz will sign copies of their books, which will be on sale at the event. To reserve copies, please email: Katamonbooks@gmail.com
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Sunday, July 2:
Interviewed by David Horovitz
8 p.m., Jerusalem Cinematheque
Tickets NIS 50 HERE.
(NIS 60 at door, cash only)
In association with Nefesh B’Nefesh
Tuesday, July 18: Personal Pages – Meet the Author
Ilene Prusher (“Baghdad Fixer”)
Janice Weizman (“The Wayward Moon”)
7 p.m., Crusaders Hall, Tower of David, Jaffa Gate
Tickets NIS 50, available soon.