The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come
The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come

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Annotation: A folkloric account of the efforts of MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Aaron Lansky to preserve Jewish-European literature describes how for more than 40 years he has combed through dumpsters, basements and attics to collect and preserve Yiddish-language books.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #206033
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Illustrator: Innerst, Stacy,
Pages: 48 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-481-47220-8 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7256-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-481-47220-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7256-3
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2018040581
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
One young man seeks out a unique collection of Yiddish books to preserve them and their lost world.Growing up, Aaron Lansky remembered the story of his grandmother's immigration to America. She had just one worn suitcase, filled with books in Yiddish and Sabbath candlesticks—which her brother tossed into the water upon greeting her. It was of the Old World, and she was in the New World. Lansky loved reading but realized that to pursue his interest in Jewish literature he would have to study Yiddish, his grandmother's language. His search for books in Yiddish led to one rabbi about to bury a pile, which led to years of rescuing books from dumpsters and then building a depository for them and for the thousands of subsequent donations. Lansky visited many of the donors and heard their emotional stories. Now a well-established resource in Amherst, Massachusetts, his Yiddish Book Center is digitized, with free downloads, and conducts educational programs. Macy's text beautifully and dramatically tells this story while noting the powerful influence of Yiddish writing in the lives of Jews. Innerst's acrylic and gouache artwork, with the addition of digitized fabric textures, is stunning in its homage to Marc Chagall and its evocation of an Eastern European world that has physically vanished but is alive in these pages of beautifully realized imagery.For lovers of books and libraries. (afterword by Lansky, author's note, illustrator's note, Yiddish glossary, further resources, source notes, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)
Publishers Weekly
This inspired pairing of two top picture book biographers tells the story of Aaron Lansky, an -all-American boy- (a Star Trek poster decorates his bedroom) who in college became convinced that Yiddish books represented the -portable homeland- of the Jewish people. With Yiddish dying out after the Holocaust and little mainstream support (-Yiddish was a language whose time had passed-), Lansky learned the language, then began saving Yiddish books any way he could. He pulled nearly 5,000 out of a dumpster and accepted -one book at a time- from elderly owners (-We didn-t eat much,- one book donor tearfully tells him, -but we always bought a book. It was a necessity of life-). Founded in 1980, Lansky-s Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., is today home to 1.5 million rescued books and is a hub of Yiddish studies. Innerst (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), who notes in an afterword that his illustrations were inspired by Chagall, contributes dramatic, textural acrylic and gouache images, with sculptural figures, expressionistic settings, and the deep, rich tones of vintage book bindings. Evoking both a lost past and an urgent present, they-re a marvelous complement to the journalistic, propulsive narrative by Macy (Motor Girls). Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

School Library Journal
Gr 14 Aaron Lansky could not forget what his grandmother told him as a child. At the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. In his twenties, Lansky decided to find out more about his grandmother's stories, which set him on a journey to learn how to speak and read Yiddish and to also locate Yiddish books. The result is the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Lansky's story is a fascinating one, filled with book rescues and meeting older people who not only treasure books but what they represent. His disappointments and rewards in pursuing this passion are well portrayed. The narrative is both informative and engaging and includes Yiddish words, many of which have been incorporated into English. All appear in a glossary. An afterword by Lansky himself brings the Center and his work up to date. Illustrations intentionally call to mind the bold line and semi-abstraction of Russian-born artist Marc Chagall. VERDICT A potentially valuable addition to both school and public libraries as well as Jewish schools. Echoing Carole Boston Weatherford's Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library , the book's narrative shows that pursuing interests can lead to meaningful and long-lasting results. Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
One young man seeks out a unique collection of Yiddish books to preserve them and their lost world.Growing up, Aaron Lansky remembered the story of his grandmother's immigration to America. She had just one worn suitcase, filled with books in Yiddish and Sabbath candlesticks—which her brother tossed into the water upon greeting her. It was of the Old World, and she was in the New World. Lansky loved reading but realized that to pursue his interest in Jewish literature he would have to study Yiddish, his grandmother's language. His search for books in Yiddish led to one rabbi about to bury a pile, which led to years of rescuing books from dumpsters and then building a depository for them and for the thousands of subsequent donations. Lansky visited many of the donors and heard their emotional stories. Now a well-established resource in Amherst, Massachusetts, his Yiddish Book Center is digitized, with free downloads, and conducts educational programs. Macy's text beautifully and dramatically tells this story while noting the powerful influence of Yiddish writing in the lives of Jews. Innerst's acrylic and gouache artwork, with the addition of digitized fabric textures, is stunning in its homage to Marc Chagall and its evocation of an Eastern European world that has physically vanished but is alive in these pages of beautifully realized imagery.For lovers of books and libraries. (afterword by Lansky, author's note, illustrator's note, Yiddish glossary, further resources, source notes, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 46-47).
Word Count: 1,265
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 505090 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: 890L

Recipient of a Sydney Taylor Book Award for Younger Readers
An ALA Notable Book
A Bank Street Best Book of the Year

“Text and illustration meld beautifully.” —The New York Times
“Stunning.”​ —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Inspired...[a] journalistic, propulsive narrative.Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The story comes alive through the bold acrylic and gouache art.” —Booklist (starred review)

From New York Times Best Illustrated Book artist Stacy Innerst and author Sue Macy comes a story of one man’s heroic effort to save the world’s Yiddish books in their Sydney Taylor Book Award–winning masterpiece.

Over the last forty years, Aaron Lansky has jumped into dumpsters, rummaged around musty basements, and crawled through cramped attics. He did all of this in pursuit of a particular kind of treasure, and he’s found plenty. Lansky’s treasure was any book written Yiddish, the language of generations of European Jews. When he started looking for Yiddish books, experts estimated there might be about 70,000 still in existence. Since then, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient has collected close to 1.5 million books, and he’s finding more every day.

Told in a folkloric voice reminiscent of Patricia Polacco, this story celebrates the power of an individual to preserve history and culture, while exploring timely themes of identity and immigration.


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