Jane Zalben Book Talk


On Thursday, Sept. 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m, the Bryant Library will present a presentation by Jane Breskin Zalben.

The event will feature her latest book, Beni’s Tiny Tales: Jewish Holidays Around the Year.
Zalben is the acclaimed creator of the beloved Beni book series, including Beni’s Family Treasury and Beni’s Family Cookbook for the Jewish Holidays, which was an ALA Notable Children’s Book and a CBC Not Just for Children Anymore pick. She is the recipient of four Sydney Taylor Book Awards, most recently for A Moon for Moe and Mo.
A former art director at Scribner Books, Zelben taught illustration at the School of Visual Arts for eighteen years, and has written and illustrated over fifty books—picture books through young-adult fiction—over a four-decade career. Also a painter of contemporary abstract art, she splits her time between Long Island City and Port Washington.
According to her website, Zelben began drawing at the age of five. Born in New York City, her mother encouraged her daughter’s artistic talent by taking her for weekly art lessons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Jane’s father called her drawings ‘love pictures,’” the site continued. “In the second grade, Jane began to explore her gift for writing by composing poetry for the class newspaper. She went on to receive a B.A. in art from Queens College and studied lithography at the Pratt Graphics Center. It is no wonder that today Jane Breskin Zalben is a well-known author and illustrator who has published over fifty books for young readers.”
Beni’s Tiny Tales: Jewish Holidays Around the Year is thusly described by her publisher.
“Chronicling a full year of Jewish festivities—from Rosh Hashanah through Shavuot, with every momentous occasion in between—this one-of-a-kind treasury includes homespun family stories, origin notes, craft activities, songs, and recipes for each holiday. With ideas on how to make masks for Purim, recipes to bake fresh honey-dipped challah to mark the new year, and so much more, this interactive holiday collection begs to be revisited again and again.
“Beautifully crafted and with the right balance of factual details interspersed with fictional stories, this Jewish treasury is a welcome introduction to each holiday in the calendar year, and it is all told through the lens of Beni’s bear family,” it concludes. “For parents who grew up reading Beni’s Family Treasury and Beni’s Family Cookbook, the family tradition lives on in this much anticipated compendium for contemporary readers.”
Zalben’s books remain popular with readers nationwide. Here are some online reviews for Beni’s Family Treasury: Stories for the Jewish Holidays.
“I ordered this book for my granddaughter,” wrote Rachel Steiner. “This is what her mother wrote me about it. It is very lovely. The illustrations are gorgeous.”
Silicon Valley Girl added:
“I love the way these stories are gentle, but not so conflict-free as to be boring. They manage to convey a lot of information about the holidays, too, in a fun, low-key way. The illustrations couldn’t be more charming. Best of all, children actually like them! I read ‘Beni’s New Year’ to a group of 5-7-year-olds this weekend, and they all sat still and listened, believe it or not, asking me to stop only so they could see the pictures.”
Zalben’s website: janebreskinzalben.com. Online registration required. Contact: Children’s Services at 516-621-2240 or kids@bryantlibrary.org.

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