Many Jewish families helped settle, diverse communities in the desolate, desert terrain of the Wild West. Although Sweet Tamales for Purim is a work of fiction, it is inspired by a true event. In 1886, the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society of Tucson planned a Purim Ball for the entire community. Barbara tells the story from the perspective of a young girl, who along with her new friend, Luis plan to create a Purim festival for their town. Their plans for the celebration were well underway until the family goat, Kitzel, ate all of the traditional holiday pastries, Hamantashen. Fortunately, they find another way to celebrate Purim and the family is able to share their cultural traditions with their new neighbors.
Purim celebrates the courageous stand that Queen Esther made to save the Jewish people from being banished by the king. The young girl's determination to create a spirited Purim celebration in her western town, provides a unique insight into how children can creatively overcome challenges when life doesn’t go as planned. Her quick thinking, persistence and resourceful actions give their first Purim festival added significance.
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About the Author
Bio – Author Barbara Bietz When Barbara isn't reading, she is probably typing away at her desk, surrounded by her two naughty (but nice) dogs. Barbara is often inspired by her favorite books and sometimes enjoys playing guitar, but, she says, not very well. Barbara’s chapter book, Like a Maccabee, nabbed the 2006 Midwest Independent Publishers Association Merit Award. She is also the creator of the website Jewish Books for Kids and a former chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, which honors exceptional works about the Jewish experience. Her favorite part about being an author? Visiting schools, meeting young readers, and eating lunch in the cafeteriaespecially when it’s grilled cheese day! Barbara lives with her family in Oak Park, California.
In collaboration with John Kanzler, Barbara's award-winning picture book, The Sundance Kid, tells the story of a Jewish family's struggle to preserve their traditions in a small, desert town in the old west. Barbara’s latest collaboration with John, Sweet Tamales for Purim, is told from the perspective of Rebecca, a young girl, who along with her new friend, Luis plan to create a Purim festival for their old west town before the family goat, Kitzel, undermines their plans and the fun begins. Bio – Illustrator, John Kanzler John Kanzler has been drawing on things as far back as he can remember and he is a completely self-taught artist. When he's not pursuing his art or spending time with his family on their Massachusetts farm, he pursues an eclectic range of interests, from astronomy to paleontology.Ironically, John grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut, in a house formerly belonging to the cartoonist, William Steig who created Shriek!He currently lives on a small farm in Greenfield, Massachusetts with his wife Diane and his daughter Lorelei, along with their five cats. They also have several sheep and a llama or two.
Kanzler has illustrated several books for August House, including the award-winning The Sundown Kid and Priceless Gifts: A Tale from Italy. In an interview with author, Barbara Bietz, Kanzler explains his process for creating the warm and timeless portrayal of a Jewish family struggling to preserve tradition in a western town.