Jane Breskin Zalben

author / artist / illustrator


Hi! Do you want to find out more about my books, try playing some games, and some other stuff? If so, just click the links below to get started. If you have speakers, turn up the volume to hear the ragtime music.

Pearl's Books

How to Plant a Tree with Pearl

Make your own Menorah just like Pearl

Pearl's Photo Album

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Pearl Plants a Tree

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.

Pearl's Marigolds for Grandpa

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 Eight Days of Chanukah: A Story and An Activity for Each Night

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 suts down to write about the week-- and realizes that the true joy of Chanukah comes from being with loved ones.

Pearl's Passover: A Family Celebration Through Stories, Recipes, Crafts, and Songs

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.

How to Plant a Tree with Pearl

Check with your local nursery to learn which kinds of trees grow best in your area and if you need to prepare your seeds in any way before you plant them. An apple tree like Pearl's must grow for as long as three or as many as seven to ten years before it produces any fruit.

If your soil does not freeze during the winter, you can plant seeds outside in a sunny spot.

1. Use three large seeds, or several small seeds.
2. Dig a small hole about 4 inches deep.
3. Add 1/4 teaspoon nitrogen fertilizer.
4. Cover it with 3 inches of soil.
5. Place seeds in hole. Cover them with fine soil.
6. Keep soil moist so seeds will germinate.

In a cold climate, plant your seeds in a flowerpot:

1. Keep flowerpot on a sunny windowsill. Water every day. Wait for seeds to sprout.
2. In spring when the soil thaws, plant seedling outdoors. Dig a hole twice the depth and width of the flowerpot.
3. Fill the hole and the flowerpot with water. When the water is drained, gently tap the flowerpot so that the seedling comes out with its soil around it. Loosen a few roots from the bottom of the soil before putting the seedling into the hole.
4. Fill the hole with soil so that the tree stands upright. Create a little well around the base.
5. Water the ground around the tree immeadiately and every day for a week. Then water twice a week. By late spring, the tree will have new growth.

Pearl's Menorah

1. Pearl took eight small empty spools of thread and one large spool. (Small spools are 7/8" diameter x 1 1/8" height. Large spools are 1 1/4" diameter x 1 3/4" height.)

2. In the garage, Papa found an oblong piece of wood about 1 1/2" x 10 3/4". Pearl lined up the nine spools in a row. She put the shammash in the middle. It can also go at the right end.

3. She glued the spools 1/8" apart, using wood glue.

4. Pearl liked the natural color of the wood, but Sophie thought she should paint the spools. If you follow Sophie's suggestion, use a glossy paint or poster paints. Papa and Pearl brushed one coat of varnish on the menorah. He opened the window to let the fumes out!

Pearl's Photo Album