Reviews - What do customers think about The Gift of Friendship?
The Gift of Friendship Mar 19, 2008
This is a sweet story of Esther Rosen, a fourth grade girl who befriends her new neighbor, an older woman named Mrs. Kleinman. Esther struggles with normal day to day issues dealing with school and family, but maintains an ongoing relationship with Mrs. Kleinman. When it appears Mrs. Kleinman may move away, it is Esther who comes up with a plan to help her friend. The relationship between Esther and Mrs. Kleinman is tender, and the conclusion of the story is satisfying. Esther starts out as a nice girl, who does the right thing. She does gain some strength and wisdom, although her character arc is somewhat limited. Still, the author presents a pleasant slice of life story, and manages to avoid "goody-goody" clichés. Through Esther, readers are gently reminded that life is not about perfection, but making the best out of every situation. Esther comes from a traditional religious family, and the story could have been a terrific venue for secular and even non-Jews to have some insights into a religious lifestyle. Although this is accomplished in part as we see Esther in her daily life, but many religious references are difficult to understand in context. While there is a glossary provided, young readers would be better served by clearer explanations within the context of the story. Even so, Esther is a likeable character. Orthodox readers will especially appreciate a character they can relate to. Recommended for ages 8 - 12.
Jella Lepman, a Jewish woman, escaped from Germany to England during WWII. When the war ended, the American Army asked her to return to Germany to help determine what kind of aid would be most helpful to the children. Of course, Jella noticed many needs, including housing, clothing, and food; she also saw the children's yearning for books, and she determined to find a way to fill that need. She sent letters to publishers in 20 countries, asking for donations, and was thrilled when books started to arrive. She also translated "Ferdinand the Bull," a story about a bull who loved flowers and hated to fight, into German, and arranged for inexpensive copies to be printed, so the children could have their own books to keep. In 1949, she founded the International Youth Library in Munich. Author Sydelle Pearl presents a biography of a remarkable woman whose name most Americans probably don't know. Lepman's determination to bring books to children should ensure that she is beloved by librarians and book lovers all over. Lepman's Jewish identity is mentioned only once, in the context of her flight from Germany, and is neither mentioned again, nor seems to inform her quest to bring books to children. Despite the illustrated format, this story is more likely to appeal to older children, who will more readily understand the difficulties and struggles of the protagonist. Danlyn Iantorno's illustrations hint at the troubles in Nazi-controlled Germany, as well as the troubles in Germany after the war. The faces, however, all seem to share the same expression. Nonetheless, this biography will introduce a remarkable woman to all who read it. Ages 8 - 11. Reviewed by Barbara Bietz
Fantastic! A must read! Feb 27, 2007
The author has a warm and pleasant way of depicting this heartwarming tale. My daughter was touched by this tale and we enjoyed reading it together. I highly recommend this book, and commend the author!