Giveaway: Greenhorn & Shlemiel Crooks by Anna Olswanger

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Enter to win an author-signed copy of Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger, illustrated by Miram Nerlove (New South, 2012). From the promotional copy:

In Anna Olswanger’s middle-grade novel Greenhorn, a young Holocaust survivor arrives in 1946 at a New York yeshiva where he will study and live. His only possession is a small box that he never lets out of his sight. Daniel, the young survivor, rarely talks, but the narrator, a stutterer who bears the taunts of the other boys, comes to consider Daniel his friend.

The mystery of what’s in the box propels this short work, but it’s in the complex relationships among the schoolboys that the human story is revealed. In the end, Aaron, the stutterer, finds his voice and a friend in Daniel, and their bond offers hope for a future life of dreams realized, one in which Daniel is able to let go of his box.

Greenhorn is a powerful story, perfect for families to read together, that gives human dimension to the Holocaust. It poignantly underscores our flawed humanity and speaks to the healing value of friendship.

Anna says: 

I discovered through all those successive drafts that I was writing about family.

My grandparents’ cousins and their children who never left Eastern Europe died in the Holocaust. I am still childless. I have no children to discuss my cousins with, or even the Holocaust that wiped out not just them, but two thirds of Europe’s Jews.

Read more from Anna about Greenhorn.

Eligibility: North America. Author sponsored.

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Enter to win an author-signed hardcover copy of Shlemiel Crooks, by Anna Olswanger, illustrated by Paula Goodman Koz (Junebug, 2005). From the promotional copy:

“In the middle of the night on a Thursday, two crooks—onions should grow in their navels—drove their horse and wagon to the saloon of Reb Elias Olschwanger, at the corner of 14th and Carr streets in St. Louis. This didn’t happen yesterday. It was 1919.” So begins Anna Olswanger’s charming folktale Shlemiel Crooks, the story of Reb Elias and the thieves who try to steal his Passover wine.

Based on a true story, Shlemiel is an imaginative introduction for young children to the history of Passover, as Pharaoh and a town of Jewish immigrants play tug-of-war with wine made from grapes left over from the exodus from Egypt.

A modern-day parable, Shlemiel has a music all its own. No other children’s book has Pharaoh’s ghost coming back to “pull one over on the Jews,” nosy neighbors making a “shtuss” outside, and a talking horse that sounds like it has a “little indigestion.” In its Yiddish-inflected English, punctuated by amusing curses, young readers hear the language of a Jewish community of another time, while delighting to brilliant illustrations on every page.

Anna says:

In researching, I discovered a 1919 Yiddish newspaper article about my great-grandfather. One night, while he was at the synagogue teaching a Talmud class, two crooks tried to steal the Passover wine and liquor from his kosher store. The neighborhood woke up at the sound of the break-in, and one neighbor began shooting his revolver in the air. The crooks got scared and ran away. They not only left without the wine and liquor, but without their horse and wagon, so they left with less than what they came with! The article, combined with my desire to pay tribute to my great-grandparents, was the beginning of Shlemiel Crooks.

Read more from Anna about Shlemiel Crooks. Note: this book has a Passover connection.

Eligibility: North America. Author sponsored.

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