Toys That Teach

 

Introducing my new picture book:

The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin
written by Martha Simpson
illustrated by D Yael Bernhard
Wisdom Tales Press, October 2014

Dreidel_cover

When Wisdom Tales Publishing offered me the opportunity to illustrate The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin, I knew right away it would be a fun book.  What could be more enchanting than a toyshop in Prague one hundred years ago?  This is the sort of setting I used to dream about when I first started out as an illustrator.

What I did not recognize right away is the moral substance of this story.  At first, The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin seems like one of many tales that explore the classic dichotomy between selfish and unselfish children.  The two spoiled children receive a consequence for their lousy behavior: that of a dreidel that refuses to spin.  Not just any dreidel, but one which is the handiwork of a mysterious peddler.  By contrast, the humble boy is rewarded when the dreidel not only spins for him, but transforms, delivering a special message.  In keeping with Jewish tradition, the vehicle of transformation is language, as the Hebrew letters on the sides of the dreidel change in shape and meaning.  It is a small miracle for the unassuming boy –

shopkeeper & peddlerbut the biggest lesson learned is that of the shopkeeper, who discovers something intangible that cannot be bought or sold:  a spiritual justice that helps toys find their rightful owners, bringing unexpected joy to those who are humble.  This dreidel is alive with the spirit of Hanukkah.

shop window

Most enjoyable for me as an illustrator was the challenge of revealing the boy’s character visually.  The child’s actions in the story are spare.  Thus I created additional vignettes – windows into the boy’s good nature, showing acts of kindness and compassion as the boy and his father make their way through the city of bridges and spires.

endpapers lower rightWithout so much as a coin to spend on holiday gifts, they amble about the city taking delight in simple joys and discoveries.  What better foundation for a child’s good nature, than a loving and unhurried father?
endpapers lower left

 All of this plays out in the city of Prague, where sophisticated carved and painted toys were handcrafted by Bohemian artisans.  Like the dreidel, these toys come alive, helping to shed light on good and bad behavior.  I had fun with these toys, and I hope it shows!

 

marionette 1

 

Like every good Jewish story, The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin gets you thinking – well after you finish reading it.  For it holds as miraculous something as simple as an attitude of kindness and gratitude.  Just as Moses, in striking the rock in the desert, is barred entry to the Promised Land for displaying just once an attitude lacking in humility and reverence – so too are these children, in spinning a top, reminded of how important right attitude is.  It might even be the  most important tool for young people to take with them out into the world.

Watch a one-minute trailer for the book here!

The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin has only been published for one day, but has already earned numerous 5-star reviews on Amazon.  Bravo to Martha Simpson for writing such a great story!  The book is available through my webstore (where books may be ordered custom signed), through Wisdom Tales Press, or on Amazon.  Please request this book at your local library!  Many librarians will honor such requests.  

Prague

Jewish-themed books by Durga Yael Bernhard:

NSWM FRONT COVER
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN
written by Jacqueline Jules
Wisdom Tales Press
A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around the World in One Shabbat coverAROUND THE WORLD IN ONE SHABBAT
written & illustrated by D Yael Bernhard
Jewish Lights Publishing
A Sydney Taylor Honor Book

 

 

Green Bible Stories cover
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN
written by Tami Lehman-Wilzig
Kar Ben Publishing
A National Green Festival Notable Book

 

 

COMING NEXT SPRING:

 

 

 

 

 

Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree:
Exploring the Wonder of Trees Around the World
written & illustrated by D Yael Bernhard
Wisdom Tales Press

 

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“The Jewish Eye” calendar of art

 

The Jewish Eye calendar cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hi Friends,

My new calendar – beginning in September with the Jewish new year 5775 – has just been printed!   The calendar features 14 fine art paintings inspired by Torah, Jewish Holidays, and impressions of Israel.

Hebrew and secular months are included from September 2014 – December 2015, with Jewish holidays; major secular holidays; weekly Torah portion; and candlelighting times for Woodstock, NY.  

Many of these paintings are close to my heart.  They arise from my recent trips to Israel; from teaching and tutoring children; from illustration assignments that led me to look deeper into history; and from being part of a vibrant Jewish community.

Size:  11″ wide x 8.5″ high (11″x17″ open)
Printed on high quality glossy stock.
Price: $18
FREE SHIPPING until September 1st (within the U.S.)
 
 
Peek inside:  
 
 
Please help me promote the calendar by sending this link to friends and family who may be interested!!    Tell two people who buy my calendar and get two free greeting cards or a free poster – just send me an email and tell me who they are after the order is placed.
 
 
Thanks for supporting my art!
 
 
D Yael
Yael
 
 
 
 

Hollyhocks, Bezalel St

Hollyhocks, Bezalel Street, Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaditah Valley

Kaditah Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D Yael Bernhard
http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of

NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN - New!! - A Publishers Weekly Starred Review
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING- Charlesbridge Publishing A Childrens Book Council Notable Book
AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE SHABBAT - Jewish Lights - A Sydney Taylor Honor Book
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN - a National Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK - an American Bookseller Association Pick of the List
– and more!

 

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From Passover to Shavu’ot

Drawing Holidays With Children

In the Jewish tradition, the 49-day period that stretches between the springtime holidays of Passover and Shavu’ot mark a special time.  It begins with Pesach (Hebrew for Passover), which commemorates the story of Exodus, when the Israelite slaves were liberated from Egypt approximately 3264 years ago (1250 BCE).  From there, seven weeks are formally counted (known as “counting the Omer”) until we arrive at the holiday of Shavu’ot (Hebrew for “weeks”), which commemorates the giving of the Torah:  the sacred teachings of the Jewish people that were given to Moses at Mount Sinai.

This spring, I had the privilege of marking this “season of liberation” with two different groups of children.  At Temple Emanuel in Kingston, NY, I worked with students on an illustrated haggadah, or “telling” of the Passover story.  Each child was assigned one part of the seder to illustrate in the style of a medieval illuminated manuscript.  At the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, a class of fourth-grade Judaics students drew their impressions of Shavu’ot, and what it means to receive the Torah.  From liberation to revelation, these drawings are fresh and spirited.  I am honored to share them with you.

Children relate easily to the archetypal stories that stand behind these holidays.   Moses sees a burning bush that is possessed of divine spirit and is not consumed.  God sends plagues that thwart the evil intentions of the cruel Pharoah.  The Red Sea parts, and the Israelites flee to freedom.  Mount Sinai spews forth fire and smoke.  And the sacred literature of the People of the Book, also known as the Etz Chaim, or tree of life, is given to humanity forever.

Many of you are familiar with these stories . . . so without further ado, I present these beautiful drawings for your viewing pleasure.  The ancient festivals of Passover and Shavuot are transformed into a feast for the eye!

Rachzah: ritual hand-washing at the Passover seder

Hiding the “Afikomen” – a challenge for young children to find the hidden matzah

Maror: eating bitter herbs to remember our ancestors’ lives of slavery

Hallel: singing songs of praise and freedom

Shavu’ot: the Torah scroll becomes a Tree of Life – a collection of sacred literature that is rooted in ancient times, and continues to grow into the future

The teachings of Torah are a lifelong gift of guidance, likened to the devoted love of a parent that is passed from one generation to the next.

Each individual may relate directly to the Torah, and is free to interpret it as he or she understands it.

As the sacred scroll unrolls, so too does our understanding of it evolve with the unfolding of time.

Lastly, I share with you my own interpretation of Shavu’ot.  For me, the holiday is an honoring not only of tradition, but of a lifelong source of artistic inspiration.  I started this painting two years ago with the desire to create a “visual Torah” that imparts a sense of the different landscapes in which the Jewish tradition is rooted: the craggy mountains and wide deserts of the Sinai; the rolling pastures and olive groves of the Galilee; the buildings and streets of Jerusalem; and the fertile valleys where almond trees blossom each spring, bringing the promise of new life.

“Shavu’ot” – Copyright © 2014 Durga Yael Bernhard
PLEASE DO NOT REPRODUCE

Thanks to the talented young talmidim at Temple Emanuel and the WJC for their wonderful drawings!   As a children’s book illustrator and arts-in-ed teacher, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with young artists.  It really brings the holidays alive, and affirms our connection to the cycling of the seasons.

Chag Sameach (happy holidays) to all!

D Yael

D Yael Bernhard
http://dyaelbernhard.com

Author / Illustrator of
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN - New!! - A Publishers Weekly Starred Review
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING- Charlesbridge Publishing A Childrens Book Council Notable Book
AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE SHABBAT - Jewish Lights - A Sydney Taylor Honor Book
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN - a National Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK - an American Bookseller Association Pick of the List
- and more!

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