Zalben, Jane Breskin 1950–
Zalben, Jane Breskin 1950–
Born April 21, 1950, in New York, NY; daughter of Murry (a certified public accountant) and Mae (a librarian; maiden name, Kirshbloom) Breskin; married Steven Zalben (an architect), December 25, 1969; children: Jonathan, Alexander. Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1971; Pratt Institute Graphic Center, graduate study in lithography, 1971–72. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, gardening, gourmet cooking, pets.
Dial Press, New York, NY, assistant to art director of children's book department, 1971–72; Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., New York, NY, freelance book designer, 1973–74; Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York, NY, senior designer of children's books, 1974–75; Scribner's, New York, NY, art director of children's books, 1975–76; writer and illustrator of children's books and novels, 1973–. School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, instructor of illustration, design, and writing of children's books, 1976–93; Vassar Publishing Institute, Pough-keepsie, NY, writer and artist-in-residence, 1988; Hof-stra University, Long Island, NY, writer-in-residence, 1992. Exhibitions: Works exhibited at individual and group shows at various institutions, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Justin Schiller Gallery, Pierpont Morgan Library, and American Institute of Graphics Art Show, all New York, NY; Port Washington Library; Jericho Library, Bryant Library, Hecksher Museum, Long Island; Every Picture Tells a Story, Storyopolis, and Museum of Tolerance/Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco Public Library Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Bush Gallery, VT; Books of Wonder, Beverly Hills, CA; Elizabeth Stone Gallery, Birmingham, MI, and Alexandria, VA; Vassar College; Greenfield College; and Findlay College.
Authors Guild, Author's League of America, PEN, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (judge of Golden Kite award).
AIGA award, 1978, 1979; Beni's First Chanukah named an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, 1988, and a Sidney Taylor Honor Book in younger readers category, Association of Jewish Libraries; Association of Jewish Libraries Notable Book designation, 1989, for Earth to Andrew O. Blechman; Parents magazine award, 1993; International Reading Association Teachers' Choice award, 1993; American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book designation, and Children's Book Council award, both 1996, both for Benji's Family Cookbook; William Allen White Award finalist, 1997, for Unfinished Dreams; Sydney Taylor Children's Book Award Honor Book in younger readers category, 2002, for Pearl's Passover; ALA Top-Ten Religion Book of the Year listee, 2003, for Let There Be Light; Koret Foundation Award finalist, 2005, for Baby Babka.
Cecilia's Older Brother, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1973.
Lyle and Humus, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1974.
Basil and Hillary, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975.
Penny and the Captain, Collins (New York, NY), 1977.
Norton's Nighttime, Collins (New York, NY), 1979.
Will You Count the Stars without Me?, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1979.
"Oh, Simple!", Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1981. Porcupine's Christmas Blues, Philomel/Putnam (New York, NY), 1982.
Beni's First Chanukah, Holt (New York, NY), 1988.
Happy Passover, Rosie, Holt (New York, NY), 1990.
Leo and Blossom's Sukkah, Holt (New York, NY), 1990.
Goldie's Purim, Holt (New York, NY), 1991.
Beni's Little Library (boxed set), Holt (New York, NY), 1991.
Buster Gets Braces, Holt (New York, NY), 1992.
Happy New Year, Beni, Holt (New York, NY), 1993.
Papa's Latkes, Holt (New York, NY), 1994.
Miss Violet's Shining Day, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1995.
Pearl Plants a Tree, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Beni's Family Cookbook for the Jewish Holidays, Holt (New York, NY), 1996.
Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.
Beni's Family Treasury: Stories for the Jewish Holidays, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.
Beni's First Wedding, Holt (New York, NY), 1998.
Pearl's Eight Days of Chanukah, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.
To Every Season: A Family Holiday Cookbook, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
Don't Go!, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Let There Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Pearl's Passover: A Family Celebration through Stories, Recipes, Crafts, and Songs, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
(With husband, Steven Zalben) Saturday Night at the Beastro, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Light, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.
Oliver and Alison's Week, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1980.
A Perfect Nose for Ralph, illustrated by John Wallner, Philomel (New York, NY), 1980.
The Magic Menorah: A Modern Chanukah Tale, illustrated by Donna Diamond, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Baby Babka: The Gorgeous Genius, illustrated by Victoria Chess, Clarion (New York, NY), 2004.
Hey, Mama Goose, illustrated by Emilie Chollat, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Maybe It Will Rain Tomorrow, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1982.
Here's Looking at You, Kid, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1984.
Water from the Moon, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1987.
Earth to Andrew O. Blechman, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1989.
The Fortuneteller in 5B, Holt (New York, NY), 1991.
Unfinished Dreams, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
Leap, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.
Jan Wahl, Jeremiah Knucklebones, Holt (New York, NY), 1974.
Jane Yolen, An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball: A Counting Rhyme, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1976, reprinted, Caroline House (Honesdale, PA), 1991.
Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky, F. Warne (New York, NY), 1977.
Jane Yolen, All in the Woodland Early: An ABC Book, Collins (New York, NY), 1979.
Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Holt (New York, NY), 1986.
William Shakespeare, Starlight & Moonshine: Poetry of the Supernatural, foreword by Werner Gundersheimer, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Inner Chimes: Poems on Poetry, selected by Bobbye S. Goldstein, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1992.
"Oh, Simple!" was adapted as a film broadcast on British Broadcasting Corporation television.
Jane Breskin Zalben is an author and illustrator with numerous books to her credit, from simple counting and A-B-C picture books for preschoolers to young-adult novels dealing with topics ranging from the death of a parent and Holocaust survivors to AIDS to coping with first loves and a physical disabilities. Since the 1983 publication of Beni's First Chanukah, Zalben has become best known as the creator of several series of picture books about the Jewish holidays that feature lovable animal characters. As an illustrator, she is lauded for her warm, finely detailed watercolor renderings of anthropomorphic animals: including squirrels, monkeys, penguins, lambs, and bears. Alice Digilio noted in a Washington Post Book World review of "Oh, Simple!" that some stories "can seem too precious when small animal characters are substituted for small human ones" and praised Zalben for avoiding this problem in her "excellent tale" about two chipmunk characters. Marcia Posner, in a School Library Journal appraisal of Goldie's Purim, found the pictures "totally charming and accomplished," lauding the author-illustrator's "tiny, intricate patterns and … attention to detail."
Born in 1950 in New York City, Zalben enjoyed drawing from the time she could hold a crayon. Formal art study began at age five when her mother took Zalben for weekly arts lessons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "I just loved it," Zalben once recalled of her time at the museum school, saying in an interview that "it became like a comfortable second home." In sixth grade she decided that when she reached the ninth grade she would apply to New York City's High School of Music and Art; soon after she began building her portfolio.
After graduating from the specialized High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, Zalben went on to major in art at Queens College, where she was fortunate to study under several inspiring teachers. One was Marvin Bileck, a Caldecott Honor runner-up for his book Rain Makes Applesauce. Bileck talked about "the importance of the brushes and papers you use. It changed my life. I started thinking, gee, this would be interesting to do for a living." Another fond memory from Zalben's college years is working in a barn that had been converted into studios for art students' use. "I had my own big space," she once recalled, "so it was the first time in my life I could paint until three in the morning."
Her first job after college was as a part-time assistant in the art department at New York City's Dial Press. One advantage of the job was being in the office only "three days a week, so I could do my own work the other two." It was during this time that Zalben began to really learn about book design, and her passion for the entire process of creating children's books developed. "I was getting advice and knowledge from people who were really the best in the field," she once explained.
Nine months after finishing college, Zalben met Susan Hirschman, then editor-in-chief of children's publishing at Macmillan. Zalben credits Hirschman with having a great effect on her career. "She said certain things to me," Zalben once recalled, "about writing—the clarity, the simplicity, the whole architectural concept of less is more."
A month after meeting Hirschman, Zalben published her first book, Cecilia's Older Brother, a tale of sibling rivalry with a twist. In this story about a family of mice, Cecilia is constantly being teased and bullied by her older brother Timothy—that is, until "something better" comes along. That something better is a baby brother, and now both Timothy and Cecilia have someone new to fight with. Zalben drew on personal memories of growing up with an older brother to create the book, which, according to a Times Literary Supplement critic, "has its funny moments" and is "neatly and wittily illustrated." Ethel L. Heins in Horn Book praised Cecilia's Older Brother for its "crisply detailed pictures."
With her first three books published, Zalben found herself drawn toward a different style; what she once called "the elf-and-details direction of Butterfly Ball." Zalben has been developing and refining this warm, sometimes offbeat and whimsical, and, above all, richly detailed style of watercolor and pencil drawing in the more than thirty picture books she has illustrated since.
Reviewers are frequently charmed by Zalben's drawings. For example, Kristi L. Thomas's review of "Oh, Simple!" in School Library Journal praised Zalben's "exquisite tableaux of anthropomorphic animals." Carolyn K. Jenks, in her School Library Journal critique of Norton's Nighttime, commented favorably on the way "the soft, dark watercolor illustrations reflect the nighttime atmosphere of the text." The book was ultimately adapted as a short film broadcast by England's British Broadcasting Corporation.
After contributing to some thirteen picture books over ten years' time, Zalben also began writing young-adult novels. She recalled that Sandra Jordan, then editor-in-chief at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, helped encourage this change by suggesting: "I think there's more you need to say than you're able to say in a thirty-two-page picture book." Zalben was then raising a baby and a toddler, and although she had little extra energy, she decided that nap times would provide her the opportunity to start working on a longer story.
Her first novel, Maybe It Will Rain Tomorrow, was published in 1982. It is the story of Beth, a sixteen year old who must go to live with her father and his second wife after her mother's suicide. The story focuses on growing up, loss, first love, and, most of all, on about the difficult relationship between Beth and her stepmother, Linda. Symme J. Benoff, writing in School Library Journal, called the book "touching" and the relationship between Beth and Linda "real [and] understandable."
Zalben went on to write three novels in a row, inspired by her experiences as a parent of budding teenagers as well as by her own emotional memories. In Water from the Moon, teen Nicole Bernstein seems to have it all, except a love interest, and this causes her to misinterpret the friendly overtures of a young man working in her father's office. The young woman's efforts to establish a secure friendship with a fellow art student are also frustrated when her friend announces plans to leave the area when her mother changes jobs. The Fortuneteller in 5B, which Zalben published in 1991, focuses on Alexandria Pilaf, a teen whose anguish over the death of her father is transferred into paranoia about an elderly woman living in her apartment building. Alexandria begins to spread rumors that the woman is a vampire, because she is rarely seen during the day. Finally the truth is learned—the woman is a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps where she lost much of her family—and Alexandria finds a way to deal with her own loss. "Readers will be moved by the author's note about the concentration camp at Terezin," noted Kathy Peihl in the St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, "where thousands of children were sent during World War II."
The 1980s were a time of transition for Zalben. She had left the city in which she had been born and raised, and moved to the Long Island suburbs, where she felt lonely. "I hated it for the first three years," she once explained, "and my first novel starts out like that about suburbia and all the houses looking the same." Although it was a difficult adjustment, her new life in the suburbs inspired her work on the "Beni" books, an illustrated series about the Jewish holidays. Zalben once recalled in an interview the story of driving down the main street of her town with her family. The streets were decorated for Christmas and her younger son Alexander wanted to know where the Chanukah decorations were. "He wanted to have a Christmas tree and the holly trailing down the banister," Zalben explained. "I said, 'Alexander, we're not going to do that, we're Jewish.' And he said, 'Well, if you don't do that then I'm going to marry a girl who's not Jewish when I grow up.'" Zalben was amused at the strong reaction she had to this situation, and it encouraged her to do a Chanukah book.
"The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to give my children, and Jewish children, a gift—something they could cuddle up with during their holiday that wasn't moralistic, pedantic and preachy," Zalben wrote in an essay in the Miami Jewish Tribune. She presented the idea of a picture book featuring a cuddly family of bears to her publisher, and the next six months were filled with meetings and discussions trying to answer the question, "How would Jewish people take to animals?" As Zalben wrote in her essay, the response to her idea was generally that "cute little mice were okay for Christmas books, but Jewish children shouldn't have animals."
Ultimately Zalben prevailed. She wrote the book as she had envisioned it, and the first printing of Beni's First Chanukah—12,500 copies—sold out in three weeks. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the volume "" "a gentle reminder that children take pleasure in simple things and that holidays need not be elaborate to be memorable." A School Library Journal critic termed the book "a pleasant celebration" and "a quiet story of family holiday togetherness."
The critical and popular success of Beni's First Chanukah led to books celebrating Passover, Sukkot, Purim, and the Jewish New Year, all featuring Beni's bear family. Zalben once commented that it was not until the fifth book, Happy New Year, Beni, that she really started to feel like she "knew" the characters. Happy New Year, Beni was inspired by her own experience of Tashlikh, the ritual of throwing bits of bread into a river that symbolizes the casting away of past wrongdoing to start the new year afresh. "It was so spiritual and wonderful," she remembered, "that after the holidays were over, I went home and wrote the book." A review of
Happy New Year, Beni in Publishers Weekly pointed to "Zalben's sweet-natured watercolor-and-pencil illustrations" that "portray the festivities in inviting detail, from the table set with lace cloth and candles to the To-rah scrolls and prayer shawls in the synagogue." Hazel Rochman, writing in Booklist, noted how the "sweetness is nicely undercut by pesky cousin Max, whose practical jokes and wet plastic spiders spoil Beni's fun."
Other "Beni" books include Beni's Family Cookbook, which collects recipes organized around each of the Jewish holidays. While the recipes are designed for cooks who know their way around the kitchen, the layout of the book, and its engaging illustrations, will be sure to captivate younger helpers. The young bear experiences yet another first when he hears Uncle Izzy announce his wedding plans. In Beni's First Wedding readers share Beni's excitement at being a part of the wedding party, and learn about Jewish customs. Writing in School Library Journal, Elizabeth Palmer Abarbanel called Beni's First Wedding "a wonderful selection for children anticipating a family wedding, and a must for libraries serving Jewish communities."
In addition to her Beni character, Zalben has introduced a young sheep named Pearl who, with little brother Avi in tow, explores the Jewish tradition from a female perspective. In Pearl's Eight Days of Chanukah, published in 1998, Pearl's twin cousins Sophie and Harry come to spend the holidays, allowing readers to share in the crafts, ceremonies, and festivities that comprise Chanukah. Noting that the book's strength "lies in the depiction of Chanukah as a time to celebrate and enjoy the company of friends and family," a School Library Journal contributor praised the colored pencil-and-watercolor illustrations as "warm and appealing," while a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Zalben's "cosy, finely detailed" illustrations are the strength of this book.
Another Jewish holiday is covered in Pearl's Passover: A Family Celebration through Stories, Recipes, Crafts, and Songs. Pearl, Avi, Sophie, Harry, and the rest of the family gather together to cook special Passover foods, make holiday crafts, and hear their grandparents tell the story of the first Passover. (The important role played by lamb's blood in the first Passover is, mercifully for the little sheep, not mentioned, and the traditional leg of lamb is not featured on the Seder menu.) Interspersed with the tale are activities for young readers, recipes to make, and songs to sing. The book also includes a glossary, outlines the fifteen steps of the Seder, and provides the words and music for the parts of the Seder that are traditionally sung. Overall, noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, this book is a "quite comprehensive look at the Passover holiday." Zalben's illustrations for Pearl's Passover also received favorable comments from reviewers. "The cozy watercolor depictions of the family as pink-cheeked sheep … are well suited to this affectionate gathering," Lauren Adams wrote in Horn Book. School Library Journal reviewer Linda R.
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Silver called the artwork "charming," while noting the "humorous touches that make the rather large cast easy to distinguish."
Pearl Plants a Tree describes the "environmental" holiday of Tu B'shvat, as Pearl and her grandfather discuss his first home in America and the tree he once planted there. Pearl decides to follow the tradition by raising an apple tree seedling; the following spring she and her grandfather celebrate the tree-planting holiday together. In the poignant Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa, the young sheep must cope with the loss of her beloved grandfather in a story that School Library Journal contributor Susan Scheps noted "will be comfortably reassuring to children who have lost a beloved grandparent." The book also contains information on the mourning customs for six major religious traditions.
Zalben examines religious traditions from another perspective in Let There Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World. This book is an anthology of inspirational pieces gathered from many different religious writings and traditions, including verses from the Bible and the Qur'an, words from Lao-Tzu, Buddha, the Dalai Lama, and Mahatma Gandhi, and pieces from Native American tribes and the Shona of Zimbabwe. The collages Zalben created to illustrate these pieces are also varied, incorporating materials and color schemes appropriate to the culture of each selection. Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan commented favorably on the book's "positive message," as well as on its "thoughtful selections and creative illustrations." Let There Be Light was selected an American Library Association Top-Ten Religion Book of the Year.
Although Zalben's primary fame rests on her "Beni" and "Pearl" books, she continues exploring many different projects to express herself. A young-adult novel, 1996's Unfinished Dreams, focuses on sixth grade student Jason Glass and his relationship with his middle school principal, Mr. Carr, who ultimately dies of AIDS. It is also about music—Mr. Carr had inspired Jason to learn to play the violin—and Zalben's story explores the healing power of art. "Zalben has written an introspective novel, with real people who have real conversations," commented Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Ann Bouricius. The critic added that the book "will be savored by those who enjoy a subtly rich and quiet read."
Zalben's other books for older readers include Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World. Sixteen individuals are given one-page profiles in this book, each with a facing illustration. The individuals are from around the world, including the United States (John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr.), Kenya (Wangari Maathai), India (Mahatma Gandhi), Britain (Princess Diana), Germany (Anne Frank), and Burma (Aung San Suu Kyi). Despite the hardships and tragic early deaths that befell many of these people, "the focus is very upbeat," Hazel Rochman commented in Booklist. Zalben's collages again received much critical attention. As Hope Marie Cook explained in School Library Journal, rather than being typical portraits, the somewhat abstract illustrations instead "reflect Zalben's interpretation of these individuals, and the appended notes explain the various symbols and materials in the pictures."
Zalben has also written several non-series books for young readers, including Saturday Night at the Beastro (written with her husband, Steven Zalben), Baby Babka: The Gorgeous Genius, and Hey, Mama Goose. The first title features Halloween monsters heading to a New Orleans-style French "beastro" for a dinner of bugs, slugs, skunks, and other gross fare. The text is "less an actual story than a catalog of gross food," Kathleen Kelly MacMillan commented in School Library Journal, but the illustrations are "unique." For these collages, Steven Zalben (his real job is as an architect) took new photographs of a New Orleans restaurant, another in Manhattan, and street scenes all over Eastern Europe, then digitally manipulated them in the computer, pixel by pixel. Then the Zalbens overlaid them with original drawings, paintings, feathers, googly eyes, other found materials, and fabric and paper scraps from around the world.
Baby Babka and Hey, Mama Goose are notable for being among the small number of books Zalben has written but not illustrated herself. In the latter title, characters from an assortment of fairy tales become unhappy with their current homes and decide that they want to move into better digs. Hansel and Gretel have eaten their cottage made from candy and now need a new home; Snow White moves in with Rapunzel; the old woman who lived in the shoe and her large family relocate to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves' previous house; and the Three Bears turn the old woman's shoe into a porridge stand. "Lighthearted and inventive, the jaunty text bounces along," Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist, and School Library Journal contributor Linda M. Keaton concluded: "This book will provide grand entertainment to children who know the original stories and rhymes."
In addition to writing books about friendship, feelings, warmth, and family, Zalben travels around the world (although you can usually find her at her desk, working), and speaks to young fans about her writing and her art. Her experiences with her readers, her family, and others in her life, continue to fuel her passion for her work. "Sometimes you need to rewrite things that you haven't had in life and wished or hoped for, and other times you also need to duplicate things you have had, revisiting them in different ways in order to remember to appreciate those small gifts and moments. If I've had bad times in my life, I try not to stop my work.
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I get closer to it and go into it more. The art and the writing are like good friends who are there for me. They nourish my journey. They keep me sane."
Biographical and Critical Sources
St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.
Booklist, December 15, 1975, p. 583; December 15, 1988; March 15, 1990, p. 1464; September 15, 1990; January 1, 1992; July, 1993, Hazel Rochman, review of Happy New Year, Beni; August, 1995, Kathy Broderick, review of Miss Violet's Shining Day, p. 1958; November 15, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Pearl Plants a Tree, p. 566; June 1, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Unfinished Dreams, p. 1704; September 15, 1996, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Beni's Family Cookbook, p. 236; November 1, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa, p. 485; February 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Pearl's Passover: A Family Celebration through Stories, Recipes, Crafts, and Songs, p. 1023; October 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Let There Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World, p. 342; September 15, 2004, Karin Snelson, review of Saturday Night at the Beastro, p. 255; February 15, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Hey, Mama Goose, p. 1085; January 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World, p. 96.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1973; February, 1979; November, 1982; October, 1984; December, 1991, p. 111.
Hadassah, August-September, 1993, Rahel Musleah, "Love Pictures," pp. 38-39.
Horn Book, June, 1973, Ethel L. Heins, review of Cecilia's Older Brother, pp. 263-264; October, 1978, p. 511; March-April, 1990, p. 197; January-February, 1992, p. 77; September-October, 1996, Elizabeth Watson, review of Unfinished Dreams, p. 603; March-April, 2002, Lauren Adams, review of Pearl's Passover, p. 207.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2001, review of The Magic Menorah: A Modern Chanukah Tale, p. 1436; November 15, 2001, review of Pearl's Passover, p. 1616; September 15, 2002, review of Let There Be Light, p. 1404; July 1, 2004, review of Saturday Night at the Beastro, p. 639; September 1, 2004, review of Baby Babka, the Gorgeous Genius, p. 875; February 1, 2005, review of Hey, Mama Goose, p. 183; January 1, 2006, review of Paths to Peace, p. 47.
Miami Jewish Tribune, December 22, 1989, Jane Breskin Zalben, "Chanukah Story."
Publishers Weekly, November 3, 1975, p. 72; June 26, 1978, p. 117; October 15, 1979, p. 67; December 12, 1980, p. 47; July 3, 1981, p. 146; April 30, 1982; October 15, 1982; April 10, 1987, p. 95; November 11, 1988, review of Beni's First Chanukah, p. 55; October 27, 1989, p. 70; January 19, 1990; October 26, p. 69; January 18, 1991, p. 57; September 20, p. 135; May 18, 1992, p. 68; August 16, 1993, p. 49; September 20, 1993, review of Happy New Year, Beni; October 14, 1996, review of Beni's Family Cookbook, p. 85; September 28, 1998, review of Pearl's Eight Days of Chanukah, p. 52; September 24, 2001, review of The Magic Menorah, p. 48; February 18, 2002, review of Pearl's Passover, p. 65; August 9, 2004, review of Saturday Night at the Beastro, p. 250; February 14, 2005, review of Hey, Mama Goose, p. 75.
School Library Journal, September, 1979, Carolyn K. Jenks, review of Norton's Nighttime, p. 125; November, 1981, Kristi L. Thomas, review of "Oh, Simple!", p. 84; May, 1982, Symme J. Bennoff, review of Maybe It Will Rain Tomorrow, p. 76; October, 1988, review of Beni's First Chanukah; November, 1989, p. 116; April, 1990, p. 101; February, 1991, p. 77; May, 1991, Marcia Posner, review of Goldie's Purim, p. 86; December, 1991, p. 120; April, 1992, p. 102; December, 1993, p. 97; January 1, 1996, Marcia W. Posner, review of Pearl Plants a Tree, p. 99; February, 1997, Susan Scheps, review of Beni's Family Cookbook, p. 126; September, 1997, Susan Scheps, review of Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa, p. 198; May, 1998, Elizabeth Palmer Abarbanel, review of Beni's First Wedding, pp. 128-129; October, 1998, review of Pearl's Eight Days of Chanukah, p. 39; February, 2000, Augusta R. Malvagno, review of To Every Season, p. 116; October, 2001, review of The Magic Menorah, p. 71; February, 2002, Linda R. Silver, review of Pearl's Passover, p. 116; August, 2004, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Saturday Night at the Beastro, p. 104; November, 2004, Julie Roach, review of Baby Babka, the Gorgeous Genius, p. 120; February, 2005, Linda M. Kenton, review of Hey, Mama Goose, p. 112; February, 2006, Hope Marie Cook, review of Paths to Peace, p. 156.
Times Literary Supplement, November 23, 1973, review of Cecilia's Older Brother, p. 1436.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1996, Ann Bouricius, review of Unfinished Dreams, p. 164.
Washington Post Book World, August 9, 1981, Alice Digilio, "Young Bookshelf."
Jane Breskin Zalben Home Page, http://www.janebreskinzalben.com (April 8, 2006).