Weiss, Jaqueline Shachter 1926-
WEISS, Jaqueline Shachter 1926-
PERSONAL: Born May 28, 1926, in San Antonio, TX; daughter of Albert O. (a businessman) and Yetta (a registered nurse and businesswoman; maiden name, Zalinsky) Nelson; married George Henry Weiss (a physician); children: Sherry Shachter Kandell, Ross David Shachter, Scott Jay Shachter, Steven Bertram Weiss. Education: University of Texas at Austin, B.A., 1946; University of Pennsylvania, M.S., 1963, Ed.D., 1969; attended National University of Mexico, summers, 1943, 1966. Religion: Jewish
ADDRESSES: Home—3023 Dekalb Blvd., Norristown, PA 19401 (summer).
CAREER: Food, Tobacco, and Agricultural Workers Union, Houston, TX, business agent, 1946-47; Food, Tobacco, and Agricultural Workers Union, Philadelphia, PA, international representative, 1948-50; peace activist, 1951-62; elementary school teacher in Blue Bell, PA, 1963-68; Temple University, Philadelphia, assistant professor, 1968-72, associate professor of education, 1973-83; Philadelphia School District, Philadelphia, reading teacher, 1984—. High school Spanish teacher in Haverford, PA, fall, 1983.
MEMBER: Philadelphia Children's Reading Round Table (member of executive board), Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Young Brer Rabbit was named a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies by the National Council for the Social Studies and Children's Book Council, 1985.
Mexico: Spanish Selections Freely Translated and Augmented, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1967.
(With Max Rosenfeld) Old Testament Tales As Literature in Grades Three through Eight, Sholom Aleichem (Philadelphia, PA), 1976.
Prizewinning Books for Children: Themes and Stereotypes in U.S. Prizewinning Prose Fiction for Children, Lexington Books (Lexington, MA), 1983.
(Collector and adapter) Young Brer Rabbit, and Other Trickster Tales from the Americas, illustrated by Clinton Arrowood, Stemmer House (Owings Mills, MD), 1985.
(With Carolyn W. Field) Values in Selected Children's Books of Fiction and Fantasy, Library Professional Publications (Hamden, CT), 1987.
Profiles in Children's Literature: Discussions with Authors, Artists, and Editors, foreword by Carolyn W. Field, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2001.
Contributor of more than twenty articles to education and library journals.
SIDELIGHTS: Jaqueline Shachter Weiss is an educator specializing in children's literature. She has consequently published several reference works on the subject, as well as collected and adapted stories about the trickster rabbit who has become part of the folklore heritage of both North and South America. The author once commented, "I collected the Young Brer Rabbit stories over a five-year period, helped by my knowledge of Spanish and the children's literature study tours that I led to Central and South America while I was at Temple University. I hunted my elusive hero wherever I went. In Venezuela, I realized that Brer Rabbit is a current hero when I saw his costumes for puppet theater presentations of 'Brer Rabbit, Astronaut.' I studied Portuguese for a year so I could translate the marvelous stories that I received in Brazil. I also collected in the Caribbean area, making special trips to Puerto Rico and Cuba for that purpose."
Young Brer Rabbit, and Other Trickster Tales from the Americas includes fifteen stories derived from folk tales native to places such as Colombia and the West Indies, as well as adaptations of the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris. School Library Journal reviewer Kay McPherson objected to how Weiss rewrote these folk stories to make them similar to Harris's "Brer Rabbit" tales, thus ignoring "their rich and unique background," though the critic admitted that Weiss "has done a service" for librarians and other readers by collecting the tales in one source.
In the 1980s Weiss completed two major reference sources on children's literature: Prizewinning Books for Children: Themes and Stereotypes in U.S. Prizewinning Prose Fiction for Children and Values in Selected Children's Books of Fiction and Fantasy, the latter written with Carolyn W. Field. Prizewinning Books for Children includes over 700 titles arranged by theme and intended age of the audience. Margaret Mary Kimmel, writing in School Library Journal, unfortunately found a number of problems with this reference source, including an ill-defined explanation of just what "theme" means in the books discussed; also, Kimmel found fault with the organization of the appendix. "The most serious flaw, however," said the critic, "is the book's stated purpose." While Weiss states in the book that she is trying to provide a reference guide that will "give readers a sense of the 'completeness' of a work" by studying each story's themes, Kimmel asserted that the author fails to accomplish this task. Journal of Academic Librarianship contributor Anne Riley noted that Weiss's book will be "of limited interest to librarians outside the U.S." because of its focus on American literature.
According to Christine A. Behrmann in another School Library Journal assessment, Weiss's Values in SelectedChildren's Books of Fiction and Fantasy suffers from a similar "lack of focus." Weiss and Field attempted to arrange the children's books in this reference source by the moral values they portray, such as friendship, cooperation, and bravery. However, Behrmann said that while the book "contains a seed of an interesting idea," its inability to organize the concept effectively results in a work that "simply serves as a list of high-quality children's books."
More recently, Weiss completed Profiles in Children's Literature: Discussions with Authors, Artists, and Editors. Though published in 2001, this work has its roots in a project the teacher began decades ago. While at Temple University, she conducted videotaped interviews of numerous children's authors for her class, which she has now transcribed. Of this experience, Weiss once told CA, "In the United States and on my recent trips to Israel, the Soviet Union, and Spain, I have been interviewing children's authors in order to publicize their books. In my own country and abroad I distribute 'Profiles in Literature,' videotaped interviews with more than fifty leading creators of books for children. Carolyn W. Field and I are interviewers, and I produce the programs. They have been enjoyed by more than one-hundred thousand viewers in the United States, Canada, and Australia." While Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic Janice M. Del Negro noted that the interviews in the subsequent book are all "safe" and "adulatory" without any sense of controversy, she concluded that the interviews with such authors as Margaret McElderry and Arna Bontemps "contain many, many gems."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Weiss, Jaqueline Shachter, Prizewinning Books for Children: Themes and Stereotypes in U.S. Prizewinning Prose Fiction for Children, Lexington Books (Lexington, MA), 1983.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2002, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Profiles in Children's Literature: Discussions with Authors, Artists, and Editors, p. 347.
Journal of Academic Librarianship, May, 1985, Anne Riley, review of Prizewinning Books for Children: Themes and Stereotypes in U.S. Prizewinning Prose Fiction for Children, p. 107.
School Library Journal, December, 1983, Margaret Mary Kimmel, review of Prizewinning Books for Children, p. 34; January, 1986, Kay McPherson, review of Young Brer Rabbit, and Other Trickster Tales from the Americas, p. 71; June-July, 1988, Christine A. Behrmann, review of Values in Selected Children's Books of Fiction and Fantasy, p. 52.
Washington Post Book World, November 29, 1987, Vic Sussman, "Swinging with Mother Goose," p. 6.*