This month I’m going to do something I’ve not done before, recommending that you read a play- not just any play but Tom Stoppard’s last play "Leopoldstadt." It is history, wit, humor, and intelligence all in one package (remember, it’s Stoppard). This is a story of a Jewish family, very closely resembling his own, with scenes of 1899 Vienna to after World War II and then 1955. This is a prosperous, sophisticated group, celebrating Christmas while waiting for the rabbi to arrive to perform a circumcision the same week another grandchild has been baptised. After you read the play, read Hermione Lee's exceptional new biography of Stoppard. Stoppard may be one of the greatest English playwrights of the 20th century, but he was born in Czechoslovakia and didn’t begin to learn English until he was in kindergarten. His family had escaped to Singapore in 1939. Shakespeare didn’t interest him as a teenager in England and he never attended university, as it did not interest him either. This biography is a joy to read. The plays and the life are intertwined; no wonder Stoppard asked her to do it. He didn’t discover that he was Jewish until he was nearly 60, partly because his mother concealed it, but also ignoring his past until forced to confront it by his cousin Sarka in 1993. He always says he has lived a charmed life. It is also a fascinating life that takes in so much art, culture, and fun. For anyone who enjoys biographies, this is your next book.
The Light of Days is an extraordinary tale about several courageous and brave women -- untold heroes of various ghetto uprisings. The story Ms. Batalion writes is about a group of incredible young Jewish women -- some only teenagers -- that represented a unique part of Holocaust resistance. These strong and capable women bribe guards, kill Nazis, bomb train lines, and more. They sneak in and out of ghettos capitalizing on their blond hair and blue eyes, pretending to be Aryan. They also nurture children, look after their comrades who are injured, and provide hope to their friends. The story is unforgettable and inspiring. Rarely do the accounts of the Holocaust include resistance fighters and even more rarely do we hear about women who put their own lives in danger to save Polish Jewry. Their stories are ones that should be told over and over and passed down from generation to generation. There is a young reader's edition for children ages 10 and up.
This book is a Montreal miracle in so many ways. Author, teacher, and poet Dr. Lena Allen-Shore sang her boys Michel and Jacques to bed every night with this little poem. It made such a huge impression on them that they sang it to their children. This version was co-written with her son Jacques so that we may sing it to our children. Beautifully illustrated, Sleep, My Baby celebrates mothers all over the world and the universal love and peace they want for their children.
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