Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ezra's Aliyah - a children's book review

Yom shlishi, 16 Adar II

Aliyah is not easy for adults. For children, it can be bewildering. Sometimes parents make the mistake -- in life in general -- of forgetting to see change through the eyes of their children. And even those for whom their children's perceptions are paramount can use a little reassurance that they are covering all the bases.

Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod's newest book, Ezra's Aliyah, tries very hard to anticipate the questions and concerns of her young character; and she doesn't sugar-coat or dismiss his objections or his worries. She states truth with simplicity.

One example: there will come a time when Ezra will speak Hebrew better than his parents. Her simple statement of the fact has wisdom, for it can prepare children and parents, and take away any negativity associated with this eventuality. She also drops excellent hints about how to make the transition to life in Israel less painful (for example, packing unnecessary but comforting cake mix for Ezra's upcoming birthday).

I liked Ezra, his sense of humor, and his honesty. His parents' honest answers to his questions were appreciated. The illustrations were a pleasing combination of cheerful cartoons and photographs.

I was sometimes confused by the order of the illustrations: there is a photo of grandparents without any comment about grandparents where I would have expected it; and when Ezra's grandmother at last appears, she doesn't look like this grandmother. (The other grandparents? Random elderly Israelis? I don't know. Will a child reader notice or care?)

Back to my favorite part of this sweet little book. I can feel Ezra's worry, hesitation and hope as I read. Here is one passage, in which he tries to imagine his future through past associations:

"A couple of years ago, a new kid came to our class.
He didn't speak much English. Nobody talked to
him, but then it turned out he was a great basketball
player, and everybody wanted to be his friend.

"Will the kids in Israel talk to me? I hope so. I'm not
so good at basketball, but I know a ton about planets
and about astronomy."

Someone once said of aliyah: "Don't make your dream your children's nightmare." This lovely little book is a step in the direction of preparing children for aliyah by taking into account that their aliyah experience matters, too.

About the Author: 

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod is a proud mother of four (two big and two little), who recently made aliyah to the north of Israel. A freelance writer for magazines and newspapers, she also loves writing stories for her kids and their friends.

Follow her own aliyah adventures at: http://aliyahland.blogspot.com

While her book can be purchased at Amazon, the author has a special going on right now: her two newest books (Ezra's Aliyah; and Zoom! A Trip to the Moon) for $9 plus shipping. To take advantage of this sale, go to her website Write Kids' Books! Tell 'em Ruti sent you. It won't get you a bigger discount; but it will make Tzivia smile.

All illustrations used with permission of the author