Books by Barbara Rogasky

DYBBUK by Barbara Rogasky
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 15, 2005

From Jewish folklore comes this tale of a restless spirit that enters the body of a living being. Wealthy Sender wants the best for his daughter, Leah, and arranges a marriage with a rich man. When she meets poor scholar Konin, however, they fall instantly in love. Neither knows that fate had decreed their love match before they were born. Their respective fathers, once best friends, had made a solemn pact that their children would someday marry. Doleful consequences ensue when Sender breaks his promise: Konin dies of anguish; Leah invites his ghost to the wedding; he inhabits her body on the day she is to be married; and an exorcism is performed. The moral lesson is a Romeo and Juliet-like ending, in which Leah joins Konin in death. Rogasky's retelling, seemingly narrated by an oral storyteller, is strong and to the point and filled with Yiddish and Hebrew words, inflections and religious references; Fisher's monochromatic paintings of shtetl life are vigorous and dramatic. (Folklore. 11-14)Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 15, 2002

The reissue of the 1988 first edition freshens up the format (the lines have more space between them, making the text easier to read) and adds new information to this monumentally important history of the Holocaust. Rogasky takes the reader from the roots of anti-Semitism in Germany through Hitler's rise to power and his immediate implementation of the war against the Jews, the death camps, the liberation of the camps, and the Nuremberg trials. Additions to the text include a section on the role of the German army and the Order Police, the mobile death squads responsible for killing approximately two million Jews. The evidence is overwhelmingly against the argument that the Holocaust was carried out only by the Special Forces of the SS and not by the ordinary soldiers of the German army. A chapter has been added about the desperate efforts of the Germans to finish off the job of killing the Jews and to destroy the evidence as it became clear that they were losing the war. The last chapter about hate groups and Holocaust deniers is expanded to include direct responses to specific claims made by so-called revisionists. Rogasky pulls no punches in her forthright and unflinching account. The shameful suppression of the truth when it was known by the British and American governments, their refusal to help by taking in Jewish refugees when it was still possible, the Allied decision not to bomb Auschwitz and thus disable the killing machinery are all detailed. A source list that is more than three times as long as in the earlier edition speaks to the scrupulously thorough research, with most of the additional sources having been published since the first edition. Clearly written, comprehensive, sensitive, and nuanced: an indispensable resource. (bibliography, footnotes, time line, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12+)Read full book review >
LEAF BY LEAF by Barbara Rogasky
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

There's a marvelous sense of composition to this attractive volume: the pictures and the poetry are tightly bound together in image and evocation. The poems, mostly short excerpts, look at the season of autumn in all of its aspects, and the poets range from Robert Browning, Shelley, and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Marge Piercy, Amy Lowell, and Tzu Yeh. The language in each case is concrete and visual enough to rouse the spirit of children being read to; older children will delight in reading aloud themselves. Both will find the images in the poems made visible in the photographs. A particularly fine approach is the use of urban and rural autumnal images, and Tauss's pictures use color, sepia, and black and white with suppleness and ingenuity. Walt Whitman's excerpt from "come up from the fields father" floats over an almost Victorian image of a child with a cornucopia. William Ernest Henley's four-line excerpt "For earth and sky and air / Are golden everywhere, / And golden with a gold so suave and fine / The looking on it lifts the heart like wine" shows a beautiful old building reflected upside-down in a glass ball, the whole suffused with burnished light. Despite the occasional difficulty in reading the text over the pictures, Henley's quote could apply to these lovely images. (Poetry. 5-9)Read full book review >
THE GOLEM by Barbara Rogasky
adapted by Barbara Rogasky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 15, 1996

The Golem walks the streets again, in the crafty conjuring of Rogasky (Smoke and Ashes, 1988) and the evocative illustrations of Hyman. The novel, for those expecting a fairy tale, packs plenty of dramatic punch: Rogasky spares none of the blood or violence the Golem wrought in the defense of the Jews and while the stories may be metaphorical, she brackets them against the real politics and living conditions of Jews in 16th-century Prague. According to legend, Rabbi Judah Loew, a wise and loving man, created the Golem to protect his neighbors from the dangers of religious prosecution and the bloodshed of pogroms. The Golem proved his worth, speechlessly warning the Jews not to eat poisoned matzoh on the eve of Passover and dragging wrongdoers to the police station. Eventually, his actions helped force the royal decree that made the blood libel against the Jews illegal. Rogasky's focus on such crimes as the blood libel, which claimed that Jews spilled human blood as part of their worship, lays bare the irrationality and danger of prejudice; however, she offers readers no healing balm that might lead to increased tolerance (save, perhaps, for the cardinal, a friend of the rabbi despite their religious differences, and one of the book's few good Christians). The art- -full-page and spot illustrations in full color—lends not only a sense of place and excitement, but mythic grandeur as well. (Folklore. 8+) Read full book review >
LIGHT AND SHADOW by Myra Cohn Livingston
POETRY
Released: April 15, 1992

Fourteen well-composed color photos explore the interplay of light and dark in intriguingly varied settings—the cool blue of the ocean at twilight or the fiery glow of sunrise; a campfire glow or a stream's midday shimmer; a funhouse mirror or a cascade of shining coins from a toll machine, silhouetted—by some alchemy—against black. Livingston explores the visual images in poems that might be termed verbal paintings, each beginning with the word ``Light'' and composed of four brief verses: ``Light finds/a place to rest/on peeling windowsills,/lazes//among/branches of a/towering tree caught in/white sky,'' begins ``Abandoned House,'' which faces a curious composition resulting from a window that reflects trees and sky- -except where panes are missing. An interesting and artful book that might inspire other verbal/visual pairings. (Nonfiction. 6+) Read full book review >