Review: My First Book of Famous Jews

My First Book of Famous Jews

by Julie Merberg, illustrated by Julie Wilson 

Downtown Bookworks, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Ronna Mandel

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“Can we talk?” If little ones don’t recognize this signature question from the late comedian Joan Rivers, perhaps parents or grandparents reading the book to them will. Rivers is just one of the more than three dozen famous Jews presented in this board book that I wish I’d written! Told in rhyme, My First Book of Famous Jews is a fabulous introduction to the talented individuals who have made lasting and significant contributions to science, literature, music, film, politics and the judiciary—even activism, an important inclusion.

It’s never too soon to start sharing the broad impact Jewish people have made in every field. This book sings the praises of everyone from Anne Frank to Helen Frankenthaler, from Steven Spielberg to Gloria Steinem in their respective categories. The vibrant art throughout this book brings members of the tribe alive, in particular Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Bella Abzug and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Descriptions of these iconic figures are brief. “EMMA GOLDMAN rallied to help workers unite./ “BERNIE SANDERS said “’Health care is a human right.’” A page of back matter expands on some of those mentioned, making this book a great jumping off point to further explore with children the influence of these famous Jews.

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Reviewer Ronna Mandel is a children’s book blogger and a pre-published children’s book author repped by Marisa Cleveland of The Seymour Agency. A longtime member of SCBWI-LA, Ronna is the co-coordinator of its Pasadena Monthly LitMingle. She also contributes articles to LA Parent and JLife (of San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys) magazines. Read more at 


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