Jane Breskin Zalben

author / artist / illustrator

Picture Books Young Adult Cookbooks Library

Picture Books:

Beni's Tiny Tales: Around The Year In Jewish Holidays
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Christy Ottaviano Books / Little, Brown And Company (Hatchette Book Group)

"What a charming way to learn about the Jewish holidays! I can't imagine more appealing guides than Beni and his family of bears. This book is filled with joy and wonderful recipes." ― Ruth Reichl, New York Times bestselling author of My Kitchen Year and Tender at the Bone, and the recipient of six James Beard Awards

"I'm so happy that Beni the Jewish Bear is back, and that he is once again sharing his family recipes with us through his human scribe, Jane Breskin Zalben. Jane's illustrations are as sublime as ever, tenderly welcoming us into this magical, delicious place of comfort, tradition, and joy." ― Mollie Katzen, New York Times bestselling author of The Moosewood Cookbook and Pretend Soup

"Rarely have I seen something this simultaneously cozy and contemporary all at once. Jewish holidays each get their time to shine in the sun in this all-purpose, yearlong collection. Warning: Don’t read if you’re feeling hungry. An abundance of recipes and crafts await!" ― Betsy Bird, Director of Collections at Evanston Library and Fuse #8 blog creator at School Library Journal

"With warmth and wit, Jane Zalben has breathed new life into her iconic cast of characters. Beni's Tiny Tales offers big ideas to parents and children alike on ways to make Jewish holidays meaningful and delicious. With classic recipes, creative craft projects—even song sheets—deftly woven into the adventures of Beni and his sweet family, there's something to savor on every page of this lovingly illustrated work." ― Adeena Sussman, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Cravings, as well as Sababa and the upcoming Shabbat: Recipes and Rituals From My Table To Yours

"A cozy, family-oriented Jewish sensibility permeates every page as these sweet bears wend their way through the calendar year celebrating with family, learning from one another, and subtly teaching gentle lessons to the children who read about them." ― Jewish Book Council

"If you love Beni the Jewish bear and his extended family as much as my children and I did, and have often wondered whatever happened to them, wonder no more. Here, in a charming and lovely—and love-filled—gift book of holidays and Holy Days, is just what you have been waiting for. It’s a pleasure and a treasure." ― Jane Yolen, author of the Caldecott Medal winner Owl Moon and recent winner of the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work award

"As a kid growing up, I loved reading books by my cousin Jane—they inspired me to think about family and friends using the kindest parts of my heart and mind, and helped me understand the deep connection food has in our family history and culture. Always thoughtful and ever-inclusive, Jane’s latest book is sure to entertain and inspire new hearts and minds for years to come." ― Lee Zalben, founder and CEO, Peanut Butter & Co

Join Beni and his family as they celebrate a year in Jewish Holidays, including all their favorite craft activities, recipes, songs, and stories for each occasion. The perfect gift book that gives all year long.

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. 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.

A Bear For Bimi
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben, Illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg
Kar-Ben (Lerner Publishing)

"A lovely story about friendship, welcoming the other, and winning people’s hearts with kindness." ― Kirkus Reviews

Anti-Defamation League's Best Books List 2022

When Bimi’s refugee family immigrates to America and moves into Evie’s neighborhood, not everybody is welcoming. But with the help of Evie’s teddy bear, Bimi’s family becomes part of the neighborhood and Evie makes a new friend.

A Moon for Moe and Mo
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben, Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Charlesbridge (Penguin/Random)
Sydney Taylor Silver Award

"The tale of a nascent friendship between Moses Feldman and Mohammed Hassan, two kids from Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York; they have different backgrounds…yet so many things in common. Moe and Mo meet by chance at the grocery store where their moms happen to be shopping. Because of their similar curly dark hair, brown eyes, and olive-toned skin, Moe and Mo are mistaken for twins by the store owner, who gives them each a falafel. They are also quick to realize that they share more than just a similar look and have the same—at times reckless—passion for sweets and bouncing balls. Weeks pass, and they return to the store, Mrs. Feldman for Rosh Hashanah, the holiday celebrating the Jewish New Year, and Mrs. Hassan for Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The kids' mothers are not indifferent to the developing camaraderie and agree to a picnic bringing the two families together to enjoy rugelach and date cookies. Author Zalben and illustrator Amini are immensely successful in creating parallels between the two boys' lives, with each aspect mirrored both in the narrative and graphically. Amini's vibrant collages capture both the busyness of the neighborhood and the growing friendship between the families. Completing the educational effort are two succinct informational sheets on both Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan along with two recipes for each tradition. A gem." - Kirkus Reviews

"While shopping with their mothers on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Moses Feldman, or "Moe," and Mohammed Hassan, also "Mo," meet and become friends. When their families share a picnic in the park, Mo's family brings date cookies, a traditional dessert enjoyed after the Ramadan fast, and Moe's family shares raisin rugelach in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Digitally assembled photo collage illustrations with acrylic, markers, and ink beautifully capture the contemporary, multicultural neighborhood." - School Library Journal

Moses Feldman, a Jewish boy, lives at one end of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, while Mohammed Hassan, a Muslim boy, lives at the other. One day they meet at Sahadi's market while out shopping with their mothers and are mistaken for brothers. A friendship is born, and the boys bring their families together to share rugelach and date cookies in the park as they make a wish for peace.

Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
A Neal Porter Book
Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan, 2012

An International Reading Association Children's Literature and Reading SIG's Best of 2012: Picture Books
A Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2012

"Inspiring starting point for young art students" - Booklist * (Starred Review)

"The joyful clarity of both vision and execution thrills." - Kirkus Review * (Starred Review)

"...a terrific springboard for aspiring young artists everywhere." - School Library Journal

"sweet-tempered parodies of modern artists...offer an opportunity for adult-child discussion..." - Publishers Weekly

Circles and squares! Squiggles and wiggles and stripes! When Jansen the mouse discovers the art of such greats as Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol, the bright, bold colors and shapes capture her imagination and spark her creativity. Join Jansen on a colorful tour of contemporary art.

Baby Shower
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
A Neal Porter Book
Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan, 2010

Star ALA Booklist

"...a pleasing interplay between text and pictures...a fun family read-aloud. This sweet story ends with charm and wit." - School Library Journal

"...this offers so much to look at that children will be turning pages after they know the story by heart." - Booklist Starred Review

IT'S RAINING CATS AND DOGS! PIGLETS AND BABY BEARS, TOO! Just the right weather for a girl who wants a pet and just the right book to celebrate a new arrival. Zoe wants a pet more than anything in the whole world. Then on the night before her aunt Ellie’s baby shower, it actually starts raining cats and dogs...and ducklings and piglets, too. Or does it? This charming book by a favorite author and illustrator is the perfect gift to celebrate a new arrival--human or otherwise.

Brenda Berman, Wedding Expert
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Illustrated by Victoria Chess
Clarion, 2009

"[A] lively early chapter book...Brenda's robust personality drives the narrative as well as the art, as Chess's folksy watercolors capture the girl's expressions, which vacillate wildly between outrage and exhilaration." - Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"Zalben's tale, divided into five chapters, conveys the warmth and zaniness that can make families simultaneously maddening and wonderful...Brenda's endeavors to reconcile her hopes with reality tell a tale of acceptance that will help young readers struggling with their own life transitions." - Kirkus Reviews

"A warm celebration of family and love." - Booklist

"Zalben's lighthearted tale of flower girl dreams gone awry offers a solid presentation of character growth." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

A contemporary, tongue-in-cheek look at a wedding that doesn't go according to plan. Brenda Berman intends to have a starring role in her uncle's wedding, but then he elopes.

Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Dutton, 2007

Silver Medal - 2008 Sydney Taylor Award Honor Book

In the beginning there was emptiness, like a blank canvas. Then, in a swirl of motion, the Creator made the world. The Creator wanted to finish everything with a special kind of light—a light so powerful it had to be stored away from sight. When the Creator tried to open the jar of light, it shattered, and sparks of light flew everywhere. With flowing paintings and intricate collages made with unusual and varied materials, Jane Breskin Zalben brings to life this timeless legend about why people were created: to find the light and repair the world.

Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Dutton / Penguin, 2006

"The accomplished, vibrant artwork and the graceful narrative clearly express each person's character, approach to life, and accomplishments, making this an enticing introduction to a diverse group of peacemakers." - School Library Journal

With a stirring quote set within a stunning and incisive collage, Zalben sets the tone for each of the sixteen peacemakers she profiles in this book. Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez,Aung San Suu Kyi, and the most recent Nobel Prize winner, Dr.Wangari Maathai, are some of thepeople she chose to represent different eras and parts of the globe. Many started down their path to peace during childhood, and all challenge us to think about improving the lives of others. Also included in this beautiful volume are art notes, a glossary, a bibliography, further reading, and an index, making it an excellent resource for teachers and students.

Hey, Mama Goose
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Illustrated by Emilie Chollat
Dutton / Penguin, 2005

Publisher's Weekly Quill Nominee
New York Times Feature Article
Scholastic Book Fair Selection

When the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe runs out of room for her big family, she turns to her trusted real estate agent. Mama Goose has the perfect house: Snow White's cottage, complete with seven small beds. Snow White and the dwarfs take over Rapunzel's castle; Rapunzel moves in with Rumpelstiltskin, who spins her hair into gold; and so on, until all of the residents of Fairy Tale Land are bumped into a different dwelling. But somehow the new abodes don't feel quite right. Will they all find their way back to Home Sweet Home? Narrated in rollicking rhyme and illustrated with unique, candylike artwork, this house- swapping adventure is too good to pass up!

Saturday Night at the Beastro
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben and Steven Zalben
HarperCollins, 2004

"The unique illustrations feature colorful drawings and collages of the beasts, superimposed over faded photos of an actual New Orleans eatery, but the most fascinating part of the book just may be the endpapers that feature a recipe for "Chef Charles Worm Souffle." Definitely not for the squeamish." - School Library Journal

"...illustrations are an innovative concoction of ghostly, faded-out restaurant photographs; quirky, colorful hand-drawn creatures; and eccentric collage creatures...A ghast-ronomical good time." - Booklist

Dinner is served at the Beastro, and it's like no meal seen before! Fang-smacking delicacies grace the tables, with sloths, slugs, and crunchy bugs wiggling on platters. And for dessert, there's nothing like batwing pudding to delight the palate -- all washed down with a glass of skunk juice!For this rowdy gathering of hungry monsters, the Beastro is well prepared to satisfy the strangest of appetites.

Baby Babka, the Gorgeous Genius
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Illustrated by Victoria Chess
Clarion, 2004

"funny, heartwarming early chapter book...Chess's soft, rounded, dePaola-style illustrations are as warm, comical, and appealing as the story." - Kirkus Reviews

"hilarious and warm story...cartoon illustrations add personality and humor to the characters...this story is a delight." - School Library Journal, starred

Before the new baby is born, Beryl calls it Babka, hoping it will be a girl as sweet as Mama's delicious chocolate dessert. When it finally arrives, though, Beryl is disappointed. Not only is the baby another boy (she already has one little brother, Sam), but he has a stupid name and is just a big dumb lump, not the gorgeous genius the grownups say he is. However, her wise Uncle Morty has a few tricks up his sleeve. With a little magic and a little assistance from Mama, the aunts, and some old baby pictures, their Uncle Morty helps Beryl and Sam see that some things are true and unchanging, like the sun in the sky above and a family's love. Sharp and witty illustrations from popular artist Victoria Chess punctuate this easy-to-read chapter book about a unique and loving family.

Pearl's Passover
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Simon & Schuster, 2002

2002 Sydney Taylor Award / Silver Medal Honor Book

It's time for Passover and Pearl and her brother, Avi, are helping to prepare the house for company. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Rachel, Uncle Solly, and "the two terrors from Teaneck," cousins Harry and Sophie, are coming to spend the holiday at Pearl's house. Pearl frets about getting along with her cousins. Her brother, Avi, is anxious about reciting the Four Questions at the Seder. But as soon as the guests arrive, Pearl and her cousins are too busy baking matzoh, making Passover place cards, matzoh covers, and preparing the Seder plate to worry about anything. As Pearl's family comes together for Passover, she learns the importance of family and faith and finds out that the real meaning of the holiday only grows stronger when it is shared with loved ones.

Let There Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Dutton, 2002

Top Ten Religion Book of the Year"- ALA Booklist
Starred Reviews - Kirkus and Booklist

"The positive message of this anthology of poems, quotations,and prayers, with thoughtful selections and creative illustrations, shines through like the sun that warms the world's children on the jacket illustration." - Booklist

Dear God,/Be good to me./The sea is so wide/And my boat is so small.
This prayer of a Breton fisherman is just one of the many simple yet profound pieces collected in this volume designed to give readers sustenance, hope, and strength. The poems and prayers represent a broad spectrum of faiths from around the world, among them Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, and African, Inuit, and Native American traditions. Inspiring quotes from Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and anonymous sources are included as well. Paired with striking and evocative collage artwork, these timeless writings will promote unity as they provide comfort to young and old.

Don't Go!
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Clarion, 2001

"Children on the verge of experiencing this milestone should find plenty of reassurance in the steady rhythm of the prose and the tableaux-styled pictures." - Publisher's Weekly

"Zalben depicts an inviting environment and treats Daniel's concerns with understanding and respect, showing readers how feelings of anxious anticipation can be transformed into enthusiasm and contentment." - School Library Journal

Daniel's going to preschool! He has a new classroom, a new teacher, and a brand-new cubby. But when it's time for his mother to leave, Daniel doesn't want her to go. It takes a very special goodbye--and a reminder that she will always come back--to assure him that he'll be fine. Now he's ready to listen to stories, play at the water table, bake pumpkin cookies, and even share his favortie stuffed animal with his new friends at naptime!
Here is a heartwarming story about separation that also captures all the excitement of a child's first day at school. Included are a recipe as well as helful tips for parents, making this ideal for families.

Pearl's Eight Days of Chanukah
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Simon & Schuster, 1998 / Paperback

"The real magic of the book is in its structure... Divided into eight chapters, each corresponding to one of the eight days of Chanukah. The book, appropriate for readers of all ages, not only evokes the warmth of the spirit of Chanukah, but offers ways for families to celebrate that tradition." - LA Times

Chanukah's here, and Pearl is looking forward to celebrating it with her family. But there's one problem-- Pearl's just found out that her cousins, Harry and Sophie, will be joining them for all eight nights of Chanukah, and she fears the worst. After all, it was Sophie who once put a latke on Pearl's chair for her to sit on, and everyone knows that Harry is like a "vilde chaya"-- a wild animal. Fortunately, Pearl doesn't have time to worry about her cousins, because each night they do something special: They make menorahs, prepare latkes and jelly doughnuts, sing holiday songs for a friend in a nursing home, and make dreidels and puppets. Once the flurry of activity ends, Pearl sits down to write about the week-- and realizes that the true joy of Chanukah comes from being with loved ones. The intricately detailed, jewel-like illustrations are a delight to the eye, and evoke the warmth and spirit of Chanukah. Easy-to-follow instructions are included for each activity, making this ideal for families who wish to create their own Chanukah traditions.

Beni's Family Treasury
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1998 / PJ Library, 2012

Jane Breskin Zalben's Jewish holiday picture books have been delighting young children for more than ten years. In this beautifully illustrated and elegantly designed treasury, five of her most beloved Beni stories are brought together to create a holiday collection that can be enjoyed throughout the year. Beni, Sara, Mama, Papa, cousins Rosie and Max, and all of their family and friends celebrate the Jewish holidays with warmth and humor. This is a perfect book for family reading and sharing.

Beni's First Wedding
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1998

"...the icing on the cake!" - Publisher's Weekly

"Another satisfying story about the most beloved bear family in Jewish literature... A wonderful selection." - School Library Journal

On the day of Uncle Izzy and Sashi's wedding, Beni has butterflies in his stomach. All of his family and friends are there-- even his prankster cousin Max. As Beni walks slowly and steadily down the aisle with the wedding ring and pillow, he hears friendly voices cheering him on. But just when Aunt Gertie calls out "Sheyna kup!" Beni loses his balance and accidentally tips the pillow-- off rolls the ring! Will Beni find the ring in time for the wedding to go on? This book captures the joy, warmth, and tradition of a Jewish wedding celebration. Also included are brief introductions to wedding customs from around the world, as well as a recipe for Mama's Honey Wedding Cake--not to be missed.

Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Simon & Schuster, 1997

Best Books List - Bank Street College of Education

"That irrepressible lamb Pearl is back... in Zalben's thoughtful exploration of death and the grieving process. Concluding with a brief explanation of burial and mourning customs of different faiths, the broader context makes this book a particularly welcome addition on the subject." - Publisher's Weekly

"Zalben's understated story will be comfortably reassuring to children who have lost a beloved grandparent." - School Library Journal

When Pearl's Grandpa dies, she wonders how she'll get along without him. Who will read her stories for as long as she wants? Who will send her marigold seeds in the spring? During this difficult time, Pearl struggles to get through her daily routine and tries to remember her grandfather doing the things that made him so special to her. Finally Pearl discovers that she's able to keep him alive in the simplest of ways-- by bringing life to marigolds planted in his memory. Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa brings Pearl back once again for all the readers who enjoyed Pearl Plants A Tree which was an American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists." This book presents a sensitive issue to children in a simple, reassuring way. Through this warm, beautifully illustrated story, children can begin to understand the cycle of life and the intricate connection of all living things.

Pearl Plants a Tree
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Simon & Schuster, 1995

"A story of Love and continuance of life from grandfather to granddaughter... Readers will especially enjoy the instructions for planting a tree. A great book!" - American Booksellers "Pick of the Lists"

"This is an eminently satisfying book written in a quiet, poetic metre. Zalben's romantic, meticulous illustrations enhance the mood... Pearl Plants a Tree is a winner." - Jewish Book World

"A satisfying addition... for religious and secular collections." - School Library Journal

When Pearl's grandfather shows her the apple tree that he planted when he first came to America, Pearl is inspired to plant her own apple seed in a flowerpot. Throughout the long, cold winter, Pearl waters the seed and dreams of a forest of light and air and leaves. Finally spring arrives, and she and Grandpa plant the little tree together, imagining the day when it will shelter Pearl and her grandchildren. This warm and gentle story, illustrated in glowing, intricately detailed watercolors, provides an introduction to the Jewish holiday of Tu b'Shvat and other tree-planting days celebrated around the world. It shows that by planting and caring for trees we can commemorate the community of human life and our deep connection to the earth.

Miss Violet's Shining Day
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Boyds Mills Press, 1995

"A lovely, well executed, well intended book." - School Library Journal

"... a passionate bunny." - ALA Book List

Miss Violet leads a quiet life. Night after night, after working in a chair with a nice cup of tea and listens to the ticking of the clock. Then one day she hears a most unusual sound: Sir Reginald playing his slide trombone. Quiet no longer, Miss Violet's life is filled with music. She takes up the trombone, and soon she's wailing Dixieland. Music opens up a new world for Miss Violet-- one full of new friends and the sound of her big, bright brassy trombone.

Papa's Latkes
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1994 - Large and Miniature Book

"Homey and beautifully executed." - ALA Booklist

This Chanukah Mama is tired of making latkes. So Papa's in charge! "Let's have a latke contest," says Papa. But Rosie adds too many potatoes to her latkes, and Max's latkes, and Max's latkes are so oily they slip right off his plate. Then Papa comes to their rescue. His latkes are perfect-- and there are plenty to fill everyone's tummy. Celebrate the holiday with Max, Sara, Beni, and their lovable bear family.

Happy New Year, Beni
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1993

An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists

This Rosh Hashanah, Beni and Sara are going to Grandma and Grandpa's for the holidays. Everyone will be there-- including cousin Max. Before dinner, Sara lights the candles and Grandpa says the Kiddush. "To a sweet, good year! L'shanah Tovah!" At the temple, Papa blows the shofar and joyfully welcomes in the new year. But Max almost spoils the holiday for everyone-- he hogs all the sweet fruits at dinner and puts creepy surprises under his cousins' pillows. It's only when Grandpa takes a quiet moment to explain the tradition of Tashlikh that Max is willing to start the new year off with a clean slate. Or is he? This book captures the joy and warmth of this special holiday through her sensitive storytelling and detailed pastel-colored illustrations.

Inner Chimes: Poems on Poetry
Selected by Bobbye Goldstein
Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Wordsong / Boyds Mills Press, 1992

Bank Street College of Education Best Books
Nominated for Utah State Award
IRA/CBC Teacher's Choice Award
Parents Magazine Best Books List
New York City Board of Education List

Inner Chimes is a delightful anthology of poems about poetry. Bobbye S. Goldstein has selected poems by such renowned children's writers as Eleanor Farjeon, Karla Kuskin, Eve Merriam, Lilian Moore, and Nikki Giovanni, all of which celebrate the mysterious and magical process of creating poetry. The poets use their art to explore words, rhymes, images, inspiration, and frustration. Jane Breskin Zalben's delicate illustrations add charm and wit to this thought-provoking collection of poetic musings.

Buster Gets Braces
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1992

Junior Literary Guild Selection

Buster's little sister Sally is usually pretty annoying. But when Dr. Orville, the oethodontist, announces that Buster is to get braces, Sally turns into a full-time pest. She gleefully chews sticky peanut butter and jelly-- while Buster is reduced to slurping soggy tuna. She makes a recording of Buster gargling, and plays it at school. She even smacks her bubble gum and calls him "Metal Mouth," right to his face. Like most pests, though, Sally just wants attention. And like most pests, she gets just what she deserves.

Beni's Little Library
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1991

No child's holiday is complete with family and friends. Here are four beautifully illustrated paperback picture books that will be enjoyed over the holidays for years and years.

Includes: Beni's First Chanukah; Happy Passover, Rosie; Goldie's Purim; and Leo & Blossom's Sukkah.

Goldie's Purim
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1991

Goldie's mother and father and all her friends have come to see the Purim play. Goldie has the part of Queen Esther-- the starring role! Her sister Molly makes a fine Queen Vashti. And Beni and Sam are perfect as Ahasuerus and Mordecai. Then suddenly it's Goldie's turn-- and she's scared. Queen Esther was brave enough to stand up to the king, but will Goldie be brave enough to say her lines in front of all those people?

Leo & Blossom's Sukkah
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1990

"... sweet, finely detailed paintings... [and] a helpful afterword includes the history of the holiday (it was the antecedent of the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving)." - Publisher's Weekly

Leo and Blossom are building their own sukkah this year, just like the one Papa's building for the family. Leo makes a roof from leaves an pine boughs. Blossom weaves willows between the branches. Beni and Sara help too. "Do you think there's too much hanging?" asks Max, but nobody listens-- until their overburdened sukkah falls down. Maybe it's time to ask Mama and Papa for help! This book gets to the heart of Sukkot-- from building the traditional sukkah and eating the family meal in it, to sleeping out under the stars.

Happy Passover, Rosie
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1990

An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists

"The homey scenes and the warm family interactions make the author-illustrator's choice of bears...a welcome one for young readers." - The Horn Book

This Passover, Rosie's the youngest, so she has the most important job of all. But before she can ask the Four Questions at her family's Seder, there's lots to do to prepare for the holiday-- shelves to dust, relatives to greet, matzoh-ball soup to make. All the details of the Pesach celebration are here-- including the Four Questions in Hebrew and English, and an illustrated explication of the Seder plate.

Beni's First Chanukah
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1988

A Sydney Taylor Honor Book
An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists

On the first morning of Chanukah, Beni the bear eagerly prepares for the evening's festivities. He cooks latkes and doughnuts with his family. He plays in the snow with his sister Sara. Later, he visits his friends the squirrels, Sasha and Christopher, and helps them decorate their beautiful christmas tree. That night, Sasha and Christopher join Beni's family as they light the menorah, listen to the story of Chanukah, sing songs, and spin the dreidel. When the presents are opened, Sasha and Christopher get a bag full of chocolate "gold" coins, and Beni gets "just what he always wanted."

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Written by Lewis Carroll
Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1986 / Boyds Mills Press 1998

Lewis Carroll's famous poem, The Walrus and the Carpenter, was originally published in 1871 in his book Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. It was a wonderful bit of nonsense, recited to Alice during her encounter with Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Now, The Walrus and the Carpenter is brought to life in a stunning picture book by the acclaimed illustrator and author Jane Breskin Zalben. Her delicate, richly colored paintings of the portly Walrus, the dour Carpenter, and all the naive little Oysters perfectly capture the playful spirit of Carroll's poem. ()

Porcupine's Christmas Blues
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Philomel / Putnam, 1982

It's Christmas Eve, but Porcupine's got the blues and he's feeling lonely. Fortunately, he has Bernard and Phoebe to remind him gently how much he has to feel good about-- like his music, his warm place to live, and his friends. Somewhat cheered up, Porcupine goes outside to greet the dawn, takes tea with some squirrels, plays in the snow, and invites the porcupine from down the road to shar Christmas dinner-- and returns home to find his blues have disappeared.

Oh, Simple!
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Farrar, 1981

When Beasely's father watched Monday-night football, Beasly wanted to watch cartoons. So, like any spirited chipmunk, he decided to run away. Beasly's subsequent encounter with his friend Winnifred and her infuriating game of one-upmanship will be hilariously familiar to anyone who ever had a friend (or sibling) just a little older and smarter.

A Perfect Nose For Ralph
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Illustrated by John Wallner
Philomel, 1980

Reggie's stuffed panda, Ralph, has lost his nose and he looks very sad, too, for nothing that he tries as a replacement really makes Ralph look like his beloved self-- until finally Reggie gets an inspired and rather surprising idea...

Oliver and Allison's Week
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1980

Oliver and Alison are best friends. But sometimes even best friends don't get along, like the time Alison ate the last jelly doughnut without offering Oliver a bite, even though jelly doughnuts are his favorite kind. Other times, best friends argue about things, like who is taller. Still, best friends are good to have around in case someone tells you that you have big ears, and you need another opinion. And most times best friends are the only ones who give you a present for no reason at all, or change seats with you three times at the school play. Emily Arnold McCully's jaunty full-color illustrations bring Jane Breskin Zalben's squabbling duo irresistibly to life in this funny picture book of the trials and triumphs of childhood friendships.

Will You Count the Stars Without Me?
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979

Nobody likes to be left behind. And to Saba it seems like the end of the world. He and Shana have always shared everything. Now she is going on a trip by herself, and to him life is flat and dull. He is sure he won't have any fun at all until Shana comes home. How Saba spends a week in which he is occasionally lonely, but seldom alone, makes a warm, appealing story that very young readers will want to share again and again.

Norton's Nighttime
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Collins, 1979

BBC Animation

Norton was lost. It was dark, and the forest was full of scary sound. Something rustled in a bush. "Is it just the wind?" Norton wondered. "Or is something soming to eat me?" Norton was frightened-- and a little ashamed, too, as he thought of his brave and clever friends Rabbit, Porcupine, and Possum and what they would do in such a situation. But when Norton finally gets up his courage to challenge the mysterious noises of the night, he makes a funny and surprising discovery...

All in the Woodland Early: An ABC
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Collins / Philomel, 1979 / Boyds Mills Press 1991, 1997

American Institute of Graphic Arts Award

This delightful alphabet book features birds, animals, and insects of the North American woodland for each letter, artfully worked into a story in verse that can also be sung to the music, which is included in a simple voice and piano setting. Each forest creature has been exquisitely and accurately illustrated in full color. The names of the animals, together with their pictures, are aids to remembering the sounds of the letters, and the rhyme and rhythm of the easily-memorized verse will help to recall their sequence. A perfect first step to reading, this cumulative tale has a surprise ending that contains a message all young readers will respond to. Together author and artist have created a book that provides both learning and joy, a beautiful book that will become a permanent treasure.

Penny and the Captain
Tales and Pictures by Jane Breskin Zalben
Collins, 1977

Penelope Adelie Willington the Third, called Penny for short, is a penguin who is first mate on a sailboat named The Silverfish. Mr. Jenkins, the captain, is a walrus. Penny and Captain Jenkins have known each other a long time. They have seen many seaports and shared many adventures together. Here are five stories about them, full of the warmth and fun that young readers recognize and respond to. When Penny is homesick on her birthday, Captain Jenkins knows the perfect present to cheer her up. When he teaches her the card game "Go Fish" she wins and that makes him angry; but when she goes on an overnight voyage, he misses her a lot. He discovers, "It's good to be by yourself, to have a good time with yourself, but it is also fun to be with good friends." And that's what Penny and the Captain are.

Written by Lewis Carroll
Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Warne, 1977 / Boyds Mills Press, 1992

Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky from Through the Looking Glass, and what Alice found there-- published originally in 1872-- comes to life for the first time in this unique picture book.

An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball: A Counting Rhyme
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Philomel, 1976 / Boyds Mills Press 1991, 1997

Junior Literary Guild Selection

Knock. Knock. Who's come to call? An elf in rainbow-striped stockings-- that's who!-- bearing an unexpected invitation to the Butterfly Ball.

Basil and Hillary
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Macmillan, 1975

When Basil and Hillary decide to build a house, all the animals help with the spirit of old-fashioned neighbourliness. Everyone is at work when the rain comes down. The pond overflows. The grass drowns. The path disappears. But there is an unexpected surprise for everyone when the sun comes out again!

Jeremiah Knucklebones
Written by Jan Wahl
Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1974

Nothing ever happens at home, so thinks Jeremiah Knucklebones. Thus, when he receives a new bike for his birthday, he has not only a present but also a means of escape. Taking his toothbrush and other wordly possesions, he sets out to find adventure.

Lyle and Humus
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Macmillan, 1974

Lyle, the monkey, and Humus, the elephant, were as close as two peas in a pod. They worked in the same act in the circus, and they did everything together. Then something happened between them and they stopped speaking to one another. All efforts by the other animals to get them together again failed. But one day their friendship was put to a dramatic test-- and both passed with flying colors.

Cecilia's Older Brother
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Macmillan, 1973

Timothy was Cecilia's older brother, and her biggest problem, too. Timothy taunted, tormented and teased Cecilia from morning till night. Their parents tried all sorts of remedies-- hobbies, trips, art lessons-- but Timothy continued to tease. Jane Breskin Zalben has created a happy, hilarious look at sibling rivalry-- complete with tongue-in-cheek humor and a surprising solution to Cecilia's problem that proves to be the funniest joke of all.

Young Adult, Chapter Books, and Middle Grade Fiction:

Four Seasons
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Knopf / Random House, 2011 | Available in Kindle


"Heartfelt, lyrical, and humorous, with unforgettable, true-to-life characters living lives we don't get to read about every day." - Judy Blume Jacket Cover Quote

"Fabulous read; characters I hated to leave; and a journey that had me in its grip from the beginning to end." - James Howe, author of Bunnicula

"I devoured Four Seasons in one gulp. Jane Breskin Zalben so convincingly inhabits the psyche of the thirteen-year-old piano prodigy, you might think it was written by a teenager." - Judith Kogan, author of Nothing but the Best: The Struggle for Perfection at the Julliard School

"A fascinating life lesson--one that resonated with me personally. Sometimes you have to destroy who you are to create the next you. Readers will be captivated by Ally's musical journey, and in her personal journey, they will see themselves. What a great story! I loved the book." - Gordon Korman, coauthor of the 39 Clues series

"Offering an insider's peek at the competitive world of gifted young performers, where the pressure to be perfect can become all-consuming, this intimate story shows how one middle schooler survives by listening to her heart." - Publishers Weekly

"Pair this memorable debut with Virginia Euwer Wolff's classic celebration and acknowledgment of the challenges and opportunities of growing up gifted, The Mozart Season (1991)." - Booklist

"An involving and compassionate story of a young girl in crisis." - The Horn Book

Allegra Katz has been playing piano since she was four. But these aren't just any piano lessons. She studies at the Julliard School in New York, where careers are being formed--or not.

Between strict practice schedules, music classes, and regular school, Ally doesn't have time for much else. Sometimes she wishes she could break free, but she's never known any other way. Her parents--a professional violinist and a singer--would kill her if they knew she was thinking about quitting piano, especially her mother.

So she keeps on going, but as the months go by, she begins to ask herself, does she even love the piano? Why does she play? And how much longer can she stand the pressure before she breaks?

Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Knopf, 2011



Bank Street Best Books List

"Eloquently expressing the power of hope and friendship, this story delivers an inspiring message." - Publishers Weekly

This novel is about Daniel and Krista, swim buddies who have grown older and drifted apart--but when an accident leaves Daniel temporarily paralyzed, he needs Krista's help to swim again.

The Magic Menorah
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Illustrated by Donna Diamond
Simon & Schuster, 2001

AJL Best books of 2012

Stanley Dreads Chanukah. He hates having to clean the house, grate mounds of potatoes, and deal with a bunch of noisy, nosey, pushy relatives. He'd much rather live like a movie star or better yet--a rock star--and do whatever he wants whenever he wants to do it. Stanley finally gets his wish when he uncovers a tarnished, antique menorah, begins to rub the schmutz off of it and discovers a genie named Fishel. Fishel, who looks more like a haggard old man than any genie Stanley ever heard of, grants Stanley three wishes. Finally! Stanley will get the fame and fortune he's always wanted. But why does Fishel insist on taking Stanley back in time to grant his wish? What do people who lived in the 1930s have to do with Stanley now? In this heartwarming holiday story, Jane Breskin Zalben shows us the strength of family and what being happy is really all about.

Unfinished Dreams
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Simon & Schuster, 1996

eBook / Kindle Edition:

Finalist for the 1999 William Allen White Award
Kirkus Pointered Review
The New York Times Book Review / Bookshelf Pick
The New York Times / Featured Article
Nominated for an American Library Association Best Books List
Westchester Public Library System Best Books List

"...few will remain unmoved, for Zalben's gift in simple, unobtrusive writing, is to make readers feel what Jason feels. At the end, what they'll feel is hope." - Kirkus Reviews

"...it will be savored by those who enjoy a subtly rich and quiet read." - Voya

"I was deeply moved by the story of Jason and Mr. Carr. I think the novel will stimulate discussion on a number of issues: death and dying, peer pressures, AIDS discrimination and religious tolerance. Unfinished Dreams belongs on a 'must read' list for young readers!" - Judy Burnett, Executive Director, Ryan White Foundation

"There were moments that made me laugh and moments that made me cry. But there was never a moment, not one, when I didn't feel Jason's story deep in that place inside that says, 'No matter what the differences of our ages, our lives, or our dreams, this is my story too.' I can tell you this: This is a book you will read with your heart." - James Howe, author of the Bunnicula Series

Jason can't imagine school without Mr. Carr, the principal who organizes Pajama Days and lets Jason keep his violin tucked away in his office. He's shocked to learn that Mr. Carr has AIDS and may not be coming back to school, but he's even more upset at the way some of his classmates and their parents turn against Mr. Carr. No one seems to remember the great things about Mr. Carr-- Except Jason. Jason understands what it's like to be different, since his dream of becoming a violinist has always set him apart from the other kids in his class. He also knows that being different has its price. When someone goes out of his way to hurt him, Jason is almost ready to give up the dream Mr. Carr encouraged him to pursue. But then Jason learns something surprising about Mr. Carr, and discovers the importance of holding onto-- and finishing-- dreams.

The Fortuneteller in 5B
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1991 / Scholastic, 1994 / iUniverse, 2001

eBook / Kindle Edition:

The New York Public Library Best Books List
Bank Street College of Education Selection
Great Neck Library Best Books List

"A warm story of two girls as they grow up and begin to find their place in the world." - School Library Journal

"The author has created a portrait of an immensely likable sixth grade girl." - The Horn Book

Eleven-year-old Alexandria Pilaf and her mother have lived in a small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan ever since the death of Alex's father just a year and a half ago. Although his absence is still sorely felt, they're now trying to adjust to life on their own. One day a mysterious new neighbor moves into the apartment upstairs. Madame Van Dam is a fortuneteller, but Alex and her best friend Jenny suspect she might be a witch or a vampire. After all, she speaks with an accent Jenny thinks is Transylvanian, brews up concoctions with strange herbs, and has a heavy trunk covered with foreign labels. Alex secretly hopes that Madame Van Dam can really comunicate with spirits, and maybe contact Alex's father. As Alex spends more time with her neighbor, she learns that Madame Van Dam is not a mystical, magical being, but a real person with a tragic past. Alex begins to realize that she isn't alone in her grief, and that people who are strange or different aren't always to be feared. In fact, sometimes they can turn out to be friends.

Earth to Andrew O. Blechman
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1989 / iUniverse, 2000

eBook / Kindle Edition:

Bank St. Best books
Sydney Taylor Committee - "Novels too good to miss"

"High humor will carry the day. Kids will like the tons of jokes that are part and parcel of the package." - ALA Booklist

In trouble again. As usual, Andrew's mind is elsewhere-- on secret codes, magic tricks, on planning pranks. Most of all, Andrew likes to think up new jokes, because he dreams of being a comedian. Lucky for him, Lou Pearlstein, a former vaudevillian and once an opening act for Henny Youngman, has made him an offer. If Andrew will tutor him in Hebrew so he can finally be Bar Mitzvahed, he will teach Andrew his 101 best jokes. Andrew likes spending time with Mr. Pearlstein. But before long, he notices Mr. Pearlstein seems to like to be with Andrew's grandmother, too. One day, Andrew overhears Mr. Pearlstein ask her out on a date! This puts Mr. Pearlstein in a new light, and Andrew wonders: would he want Mr. Pearlstein for a grandfather... even if he does tell good jokes? Then, when Andrew's best prank of the year threatens to turn into a catastrophe, it is Mr. Pearlstein who is there to listen, sharing his stories of life on the road and, as always, his humor.

Water From the Moon
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1987

eBook / Kindle Edition:

This winter Nicole Bernstein is not thinking of art, food, or boys-- her usual obsessions. One reason is Tanya Rubano, a new student in Nicole's sophomore class. Nicole finds Tanya mysterious and fascinating, even though her best friend warns her that Tanya is trouble. Nicole's other interest is Joshus Brent, the New York University senior she meets while scouting for a television commercial with her father. Josh gets her job as an extra in a "Chick's Chuggets" commercial and her really seems to like her. The way Nicole has it figured, the five years between her sixteen and his twenty-one is a lot, but maybe manageable. When Tanya persuades Nicole to cut class one Friday and go down to SoHo to see Josh, Nicole makes a startling discovery about him. This discovery leaves her feeling hurt and betrayed, until Tanya's next move forces Nicole to examine her own expectations and Nicole realizes that it's okay that there are some things, like water from the moon, that she can never have.

Here's Looking at You, Kid
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1984 / Dell, 1987

"Zalben has captured the mixture of elation and discomfort as well as awkwardness that accompanies many high-school romances. The main characters have depth... The writing style is fast-paced, upbeat, and terse. Dialogue is witty... This title is likely to be read by boys as well as girls." - School Library Journal

Seventeen-year-old Eric Fine is new in the neighborhood, and he doesn't quite fit in with the other kids. He's not a jock, he likes to write, and he's an old-movie buff. That's why he's delighted when he meets Enid, a fellow movie buff, at a Bergman film. Enthusiastically, they plan to write their first screenplay together. But life gets complicated when Eric meets Kimberly, a bouncy blond cheerleader who is Enid's next-door neighbor. He neglects the screenplay and takes up jogging to impress Kimberly. As Eric begins to see more of Kimberly, his special friendship with Enid falls apart, and he can't quite figure out why. How can Eric decide which relationship means more to him?

Maybe It Will Rain Tomorrow
Written by Jane Breskin Zalben
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1982 / Scholastic, 1985

eBook / Kindle Edition:

It seemes to Beth that everyone kept leaving her. First, her father walked out, so Beth and her mother had to fend for themselves. That was okay, until her mother decided she couldn't take it anymore. She left Beth, too. And she'll never be coming back. Now Beth lives with her father and stepmother nad their new baby. She would hate her new life-- except for Jonathan. He's gorgeous and talented and wonderful to be with. He's restores all she loved about living-- music laughter, hope. Everything about Beth and Jonathan would be perfect, if only she weren't so afraid. How can she let herself love someone, when she's sure she'll only be hurt again?


To Every Season: A Family Holiday Cookbook
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Simon & Schuster, 1999

This winning title with a multicultural appeal will surely whet the appetite of anyone who browses through its pages. - School Library Journal

On holidays we gather with family and friends to share special traditions, special times, and delicious food. Preparing these dishes can be just as enjoyable as eating them, and in this cookbook, Jane Breskin Zalben has compiled mouth-watering recipes that are fun for the whole family to make. There are recipes for each holiday of the year, from traditional favorites, like corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day and potato latkes for Chanukah, to more unusual treats like Cupid Cupcakes and Christmas Cranberry-Apple Tea Loaf. Each recipe is illustrated with detailed, charming watercolor paintings that express the uniqueness of the holiday. Background notes for the celebrations make them more meaningful as readers discover the origins of their favorite holidays. Also included is a glossary of terms for the beginning cook.

Beni's Family Cookbook
Written and Illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
Henry Holt and Company, 1996

Those who have delighted in Zalben's family of Jewish bears (adult fans in particular) will no doubt want to own this charmingly illustrated cookbook. - School Library Journal

An ALA Notable Children's Book
An American Bookseller Association "Pick of the Lists"
"Not Just for Children Anymore" Children's Book Council Selection
Bank Street College of Education Best Books List
Jewish Book of the Month Club Selection

What better way to celebrate the holidays than to cook-- and eat-- the delicious foods so important to Jewish tradition. Here's a sumptuous collection of recipes for every Jewish holiday through the year. Jane Breskin Zalben has gathered treasured mouth-watering recipes from her family and friends. Such favorites as matzoh ball soup, noodle kugel, and gefilte fish are here, as well as kasha varnishkas, hamantaschen, and macaroons. Each section of the cookbook features a different holiday and includes notes on its religious and cultural importance. There are also amusing introductory notes for every recipe. Ms. Zalben's festive, detailed pastel watercolor illustrations for her beloved bears grace the pages, making this a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. Full of homespun charm and warmth, Beni's Family Cookbook is the next best thing to Bubbe's recipe box-- the perfect holiday gift for the whole family.