No Vacancy

No Vacancy

by Tziporah Cohen


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Buying and moving into the run-down Jewel Motor Inn in upstate New York wasn’t eleven-year-old Miriam Brockman’s dream, but at least it’s an adventure. Miriam befriends Kate, whose grandmother owns the diner next door, and finds comfort in the company of Maria, the motel’s housekeeper, and her Uncle Mordy, who comes to help out for the summer. She spends her free time helping Kate’s grandmother make her famous grape pies and begins to face her fears by taking swimming lessons in the motel’s pool.

But when it becomes clear that only a miracle is going to save the Jewel from bankruptcy, Jewish Miriam and Catholic Kate decide to create their own. Otherwise, the No Vacancy sign will come down for good, and Miriam will lose the life she’s worked so hard to build.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781773064109
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Publication date: 09/01/2020
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 782,711
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x (d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Tziporah (Tzippy) Cohen was born and raised in New York and spent eighteen years in Boston before landing in Canada, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, two cats and one dog.

Tzippy studied French and theater arts at Cornell University, where she was one of a handful of chimesmasters who performed concerts in the campus bell tower. Many years after graduating from Harvard Medical School, she received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She now splits her time between writing and working as an oncology/palliative care psychiatrist. Follow her on Twitter @tzippymfa.

Read an Excerpt

I watch the Shabbat candles flicker on the counter. At home, this is my favorite time of the week. But here, the candles feel like two eyes watching me, like they can tell what I did.

Kate told me about confession. She says some Catholics go every week, but her family goes once a year, around Easter. You go into a special room, like a closet, which is separated from another little room where Father Donovan sits, so they can hear each other but not see each other. It’s supposed to be private and you don’t have to say your name, but Kate says it’s a little town and for sure he recognizes her voice.

I explained to her about Yom Kippur, when Jews fast and pray in synagogue all day, thinking about the bad things they did the past year and what they need to do to be a better person. We’re supposed to ask forgiveness from the person we hurt. We don’t confess to the rabbi, though.

I asked Kate if faking a Virgin Mary apparition is a sin you’d have to confess at confession.

“Yep,” she said. “But luckily, Easter is nine months away.”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Tziporah Cohen and No Vacancy:

Commended Sydney Taylor Book Award — Honor, 2021
Finalist National Jewish Book Award — Middle Grade Literature, 2020

“It’s wonderful when a book about miracles turns out to be one. And the miracle in No Vacancy above everything else is kindness.” — Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author

"Debut author Cohen displays a knack for storytelling that makes this a thoughtful, engrossing, funny read." — Booklist

“A leisurely paced, character-rich tale of family, religious faith, and the human need for the miraculous. Strongly recommended for middle grade collections.” — School Library Journal

“This summer-in-a-small-town novel, with a mischief-based premise and an old-fashioned feel, includes plenty of exploration of how Miriam and her family fit into the larger community.” — Horn Book

“It’s the connections between the characters that really made this story come alive.” — CM Review of Materials

“[A] simple story filled with memorable and sympathetic characters.” — Canadian Children’s Book News

“Miriam is an intelligent pre-teen with lots of worthy questions [and] the prose is easy to read” — Association of Jewish Libraries

“Miriam is a delight, both sarcastic and complex. … sensitive plot layers portray differences between types of Judaism, showing how people of different faiths, languages, ages, and backgrounds can have respectful and close relationships.” — Foreword Reviews

“Cohen skillfully and with age appropriateness addresses the issues of bigotry, hatred, and small mindedness. … The sense of community that is created in this book is a refreshing difference to the hardness we have come to expect from the world.” — Books, Hot Tea and Me Blog

“[A] suspenseful and delightful little book.” — Katia Raina Blog

“The author intro­duces some dif­fi­cult top­ics, such as anti­semitism, in an engag­ing way for mid­dle grade audiences.” — Jewish Book Council

Customer Reviews