Books by Karla Gudeon

THE LANGUAGE OF ANGELS by Richard Michelson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 21, 2017

"A lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover—and his family. (afterword, further reading) (Picture book. 7-10)"
The ancient Hebrew language enters the modern world. Read full book review >
GRANDMA'S WEDDING ALBUM by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2011

Following a game of make-believe, a grandmother shows her grandchildren her wedding album. Grandma's personal narrative is not much more than a device to introduce a simplified explanation of the ceremony. Given how fascinated children are by weddings, Grandma misses a golden opportunity to share intriguing tales about the roots of some of the most common customs she mentions, such as the flower girl and the bouquet-toss. Nor does she illuminate any family traditions that the next generation may want to embrace. While Grandma recounts the vows she and Poppy took promising to be best friends, thus hinting at what lies at the heart of marriage, the emotional depth of the experience remains unplumbed. The accompanying folk-art illustrations are as cheerful as a greeting card but do not offer additional perspective on the story. Pages are designed to replicate spreads in an album; each features a repeating border and a box of text containing an identical, repeating image of Grandma with the children. Although the narrative is lacking in cultural details, the book includes an appendix of wedding traditions from around the world—this does not, however, extend to new rituals such as commitment ceremonies. Readers desiring a more flavorful depiction of the celebration might prefer Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, by Lenore Look (2006), or Weddings, by Ann Morris (1995). A disappointingly bland treatment of an always-popular subject. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
ONE RED APPLE by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 16, 2009

Readers follow an apple from tree to market to mouth; when birds pick the seeds from the nibbled core, a tree sprouts, bursting with blossoms in spring and providing a new crop of apples in summer. Gudeon's folk-art-style paintings depict the apple's life cycle in pleasantly busy illustrations with rich purples, reds and blues against an earthy, sand-colored backdrop. Each phase is introduced with a highlighted imperative verb: "Bloom apple tree and dress yourself in pink and white blossoms." The language rings as both forceful and joyous, in tune with nature's powerful beauty. A young girl navigates the apple's life cycle through the course of the book, and observant readers will see that her own life (friendship, love, children) remains in step with the natural evolution she's observing. Parents might take this cue and discuss how human lives and the lives of trees, plants and all of nature remain interconnected, bound by similar patterns. Growth and change become wondrous things in this well-conceived and -executed nature story. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
HANUKKAH HAIKU by Harriet Ziefert
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2008

Eight simple poems in Haiku form, one for each night of Hanukkah, tell of family traditions and the joy of lighting the candles together, playing dreidel, eating latkes and applesauce, receiving shiny coins or Hanukkah gelt, singing and dancing and, of course, hearing the story of the Maccabees. Without retelling the biblical story, Ziefert manages to capture the essence of this holiday completely and even includes instructions, in both Hebrew and English, for conducting the candle-lighting ritual. Text and format are seamlessly interwoven. Inspired by Chagall, Gudeon's intensely bright, detailed illustrations float and soar through the pages. As each candle is lit, the shortened, fanned pages open to reveal the activities told in the poems and the menorah as it appears that night, until the eighth and final night when the menorah is fully ablaze. Borders, backgrounds and endpapers bloom with symbols that surround Hebrew and English letters wishing the reader a happy Hanukkah and a celebrating family dancing with joy. An exuberant delight. (Picture book. 4-10)Read full book review >