From a recent PJ Library post:
A BELOVED JEWISH SPIDER is making two appearances on PJ Library book selections list: Sammy Spider’s First Book of Jewish Holidays and Sammy Spider’s First Yom Kippur. Both books are written by Sylvia Rouss and illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn.
For author Sylvia Rouss, it wasn’t until she became a Jewish educator that she was exposed to broader world of Jewish children’s literature.
“As a young child, I was charmed by All of a Kind Family, amused by the stories of Chelm, and captivated by the Diary of Ann Frank,” she writes. “As a college student, I was intrigued by Exodus and O Jerusalem!, and as an adult, I finally read The Mouse in the Matzah Factory.”
The more she learned about Jewish children’s literature, however, the more she grew to understand its role in helping to shape identity and Jewish community.
“The presence of quality Jewish books for parents, educators, and librarians to share with children is integral to their development of a positive Jewish identity and Jewish literacy,” Rouse writes. She later adds, “Jewish librarians, educators, authors and publishers can work together on the goal of meeting the challenge of educating and assuring the continuity of our ever diverse Jewish population.”
THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR TEAM
In the 2013 promotional video created by Open Road Media in 2013, Rouss adds some additional insight into why she started the Sammy Spider series.
“In the Jewish religion, we have probably a holiday every month,” she says. “I started writing because, as a teacher and in a Jewish school, I would see the holidays come and go and I would never be able to find enough books to satisfy the children in my class.”
For her part, illustrator Janus Kahn is proud of her books. “There’s a learning concept in every book,” she says in the video. “Sylvia [Rouss] has found a way to clothe it in the holiday, and then my job is just to make that more concrete, more fun, more understandable.”
Watch the Open Road Media promotional video: