Lerner publishes books for older children


Kar-Ben Publishing and Graphic Universe, divisions of Twin Cities-based Lerner Publishing Group, has introduced new fall titles. Among the offerings for older children are a trio of beautifully illustrated books — two that focus on the early lives of prominent Jewish artists, and one that adapts the Bible’s conservation stories for younger readers.

Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime, by Gloria Spielman, illustrated by Manon Gauthier, Kar-Ben, 32 pages, $13.95

Marcel Marceau was best known for reviving the ancient art of pantomime and performed on stage for 60 years. But he was born Marcel Mangel, into a Jewish family in Strasbourg, France, in the early 1920s, and he knew from a very early age that he wanted to be like silent movie star Charlie Chaplin.

But when World War II intervened, Marceau was forced to leave behind his home, his family and his dreams of performing to join the French Resistance.

Author Gloria Spielman has crafted a lovely picture book biography of Marceau, which focuses on the lesser-known parts of his early life. As a member of the French Resistance, for example, he used his artistic skills to alter the identity cards of Jewish children and led groups of them to safety in Switzerland — often posing as a boy scout leader taking his children to camp.

During the war, however, Marceau was able to study at the drama school of actor and director Charles Dullin in Paris, where he honed his skills as a performer. Later, he performed for Allied troops in Germany, which earned him his first review as a mime.

When the war ended, Marceau focused all of his time and attention on performing, and created his most famous character, Bip.

With unique illustrations by Manon Gauthier, who manages to bring Marceau to life on the page, Spielman gives a voice to the man who stayed silent for so many years.

Marcel Marceau is intended for ages 8 to 11.

Spielman is also the author of Janusz Korczak’s Children (Kar-Ben) and lives in Israel. Gauthier is a full-time children’s book illustrator who lives in Montreal.

Lily Renée, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer, by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Anne Timmons and mo oh, Graphic Universe, 96 pages, $7.95

It seems rather appropriate for the life story of a female comic book artist to be told in the comic book style. And author Trina Robbins, herself a comic book pioneer, has put together a wonderful presentation of Lily Renée Wilheim’s amazing story — with the help, of course, of illustrators Anne Timmons and mo oh.

Wilheim rose to popularity in the comic book industry as a penciller at Fiction House, where she worked on such titles as The Werewolf Hunter, Jane Martin and Señorita Rio — the latter two of which featured women who fought the Nazis. Born into a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria — the daughter of a Holland America manager — Lily Renée was only 14 years old when the Nazis invaded in 1938. She was able to escape to England on the Kindertransport and eventually took work as a mother’s helper and nurse’s assistant.

After her parents secured passage to the United States, she was able to join them in New York. There, she worked as an artist, illustrator and model before joining Fiction House, a position from which she retired in 1949.

In addition to the drama, adventure and danger that Wilheim’s true-life story offers, Robbins offers a wealth of “extras” at the end of the book. There, she expands upon people or ideas mentioned in the story, such as the Netherlands’ Queen Wilhelmina, the Holland America line and the women of wartime comic books. Robbins also includes a glossary of terms and a collection of Lily Renée’s family photos.

The book is intended for ages 10-14.

Green Bible Stories for Children, by Tami Lehman-Wilzig, illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard, Kar-Ben, 48 pages, $13.95

Beginning with the story of creation, author Tami Lehman-Wilzig says the Bible teaches us “to use and respect the land, conserve natural resources and save energy.” Lehman-Wilzig, described as one of Israel’s leading English language copywriters, has created a new book for older children that encourages them to discover the wonders of our natural world.

Using abbreviated versions of popular Bible stories, Lehman-Wilzig finds the environmental theme in each one and offers unique activities for children that correlate to the stories. Noah’s story, for example, teaches that “variety is the spice of life,” and the complementary activities encourage young readers to recognize diversity in their own backyard ecosystems.

Lehman-Wilzig continues with the stories of Abraham and sustainable herding; recycling, reducing and reusing while building the tabernacle; and Joshua, who harnessed solar power.

This delightful and interactive book, with charming illustrations by Durga Yael-Bernhard, is great for any number of reasons. Whether you’re looking for fun family activities or a refresher course on environmentalism in the Bible, this book is just right.

The book is intended for ages 8-11.