Oy Vey, Meshugge

Or: Are You up for this Plan?

During the week of 21 to 27 October 2013, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books have already been introduced here over the course of the last weeks.
Multifaceted books for children and young adults
“Meshugge” is one of the words Ace uses to comment on stuff in the children’s novel When Life Gives You O.J. Ace is the extraordinary grandpa of Zelda Fried aka Zelly, Zellybelly, Zeldale, or Zelly-bean. Grandpa has a plan that Zelly finds completely meschugge, as well as downright dumb. But what on earth is a girl to do? She has told her grandpa she is up for the scheme, and Ace would never understand if she were to back out now, or if she failed to muster the chutzpah* to see the thing through. And in any case, there’s still a chance grandpa’s plan may succeed. In which case Zelly’s dearest dream would finally come true—perhaps even before her eleventh birthday!  continue reading


Virtually Every Form of Human Coexistence

During the week of 21 to 27 October 2013, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books have already been introduced here over the course of the last weeks.
Multifaceted books for children and young adultsWhen my little 6-year-old daughter said to me, “you know, Mama, being gay seems strange to me,” I didn’t discuss it with her for too long. Instead I headed out and bought a copy of Alles Familie! Vom Kind der neuen Freundin vom Bruder von Papas früherer Frau und anderen Verwandten (All in the Family! About Daddy’s ex-wife’s brother’s new girlfriend’s kid and other relatives) since nothing is strange in this book. Every form of cohabitation that people engage in is introduced completely impartially:  continue reading


A Story of Migration that’s Suitable for Children

During the week of 21 to 27 October 2013, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books have already been introduced here over the course of the last weeks.
Multifaceted books for children and young adults
Unlike German literature for young adults, the range of children’s books on the subject of diversity is still marginal. Usually books about diversity are transposed to the animal kingdom, or they depict ‘alien’ cultures by having foreign children invite their German school friends to an ethnic celebration. The Jewish Passover holiday, the Muslim Eid-al-Fitr, or, alternatively, the Chinese New Year, are described with one and the same formula: mom prepares the celebratory meal, dad explains the origins of the holiday, and the kids watch the central rites until they have to go to bed. Most of these books have no real plot.

Ingke Brodersen chose a different approach: she tells her story from the perspective of a little boy named Sascha, who emigrated from Russia to Berlin.  continue reading