Don’t miss: Children’s authors at ToI event on Sunday
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Don’t miss: Children’s authors at ToI event on Sunday

Jessica Steinberg and scholar Shirley Graetz will discuss making different heritages accessible to kids, at Jerusalem's Tower of David Museum on June 19

Children's book authors Shirley Graetz, left, and  Jessica Steinberg will be presenting at Personal Pages: Meet the Authors at The Tower of David Museum on Monday, June 19. (Photos courtesy/Caroline Shapiro-Weiss)
Children's book authors Shirley Graetz, left, and Jessica Steinberg will be presenting at Personal Pages: Meet the Authors at The Tower of David Museum on Monday, June 19. (Photos courtesy/Caroline Shapiro-Weiss)

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.

Cover, 'Not This Turkey' by Jessica Steinberg. (Courtesy)
Cover, ‘Not This Turkey’ by Jessica Steinberg. (Courtesy)

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.

From 'Young Gilgamesh and the Enchanted Garden,' illustration by Uriel Zohar. (Courtesy)
From ‘Young Gilgamesh and the Enchanted Garden,’ illustration by Uriel Zohar. (Courtesy)

“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

For details of all Times of Israel Presents events, join our mailing list by sending an email with the word “subscribe” to: events@timesofisrael.com

Monday, June 19: Personal Pages – Meet the Author
Jessica Steinberg (“Not This Turkey”)
Shirley Graetz (“She Wrote on Clay” “Young Gilgamesh & The Enchanted Garden”)
7 p.m., Crusader Hall, Tower of David, Jaffa Gate
Tickets NIS 50 HERE.

Future Events

Sunday, July 2:
DAN SHAPIRO
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.