Aidinoff, Elsie V. 1931(?)-

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AIDINOFF, Elsie V. 1931(?)-


Born c. 1931, in RI; married; children: four. Education: Attended Smith College and Columbia University.


Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.


Educator and author. New York, NY School Volunteer Program (now Learning Leaders), tutor, 1965; Children's Storefront School (independent school), Harlem, NY, teacher, administrator, trustee, and president of board, 1980—.


Honored at Bal des Berceaux, 2004, for educational and philanthropic efforts with Children's Storefront School.


The Garden (young-adult novel), HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2004.


A memoir.


After a long career as a teacher, administrator, and trustee of Harlem's tuition-free, independent Children's Storefront School, and after raising four children, Elsie V. Aidinoff turned her hand to writing. The result was The Garden, a debut young-adult novel for the seventy-something author in 2004. Inspired by the account in Genesis 3 about how Eve gave Adam the apple, The Garden provides a different take on this biblical tale. Aidinoff's version of the Fall is told from Eve's point of view, and the snake is her "kind and understanding mentor," as Kelly Berner Richards noted in a School Library Journal review. Eve has a desire to learn about the world, and the serpent leads her on this search for knowledge and self-knowledge. In this rendition, God is an autocrat, and Adam is something of a dolt. Throughout is a strong thread of questioning about how responsible humans are for their own actions.

Aidinoff's novel was generally favorably reviewed. Writing in the Children's Literature Web site, Carlee Hallman called the book "sometimes irreverent and shocking," but also noted that it is "compelling and thought provoking." Horn Book critic Patty Campbell commented that Aidinoff presents the Garden of Eden story "with a surprising spin: the snake is the good guy." Yet for Campbell, The Garden "may not be a [young adult] novel at all: a more appropriate audience might be older young adults who are sophisticated and theologically conversant enough to read it as provocative literary satire." A contributor for Publishers Weekly used similar terms in describing the novel, calling it a "provocative debut," while a critic for Kirkus Reviews found it a "fleshy retelling." The Kirkus critic also felt that the work is "caught between novel and allegory." Similarly, Richards wrote that "the characters here are flat and uninteresting, and the simplistic dialogue is not compelling." However, Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, found the book to be a "sex[y] … biblical reinterpretation."



Booklist, March 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The Garden, p. 1134.

Horn Book, July-August, 2004, Patty Campbell, review of The Garden, p. 445.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2004, review of The Garden, p. 323.

Publishers Weekly, April 26, 2004, review of The Garden, p. 67.

School Library Journal, August, 2004, Kelly Berner Richards, review of The Garden, p. 115.


Children's Literature Web site, (October 12, 2004), Carlee Hallman, "Elsie Aidinoff."

Green Bay Press-Gazette Online, (July 5, 2004), Jean Peerenboom, review of The Garden.

HarperCollins Web site, (October 12, 2004), "Elsie V. Aidinoff.", (May 11, 2004), "The Sixty-third Annual Bal des Berceaux 2004."*