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Leslie (Grodinsky) Kimmelman (1958-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

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Born 1958, in Philadelphia, PA; Education: Middlebury College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1980. Religion: Jewish.

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Children's, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

Career

William Morrow Publishers, New York, NY, editorial assistant for children's books, 1980-82; Taft Corp., Washington, DC, marketing associate, 1982-83; Harper & Row Publishers, New York, NY, children's book editor, 1983-89; writer and freelance editor, 1989–.

Honors Awards

Pick of the List citation, American Booksellers Association, and Notable Book in the Field of Social Studies designation, American Library Association, both 1989, both for Frannie's Fruits.

Writings

PICTURE BOOKS

Frannie's Fruits, illustrated by Petra Mathers, Harper (New York, NY), 1989.

Me and Nana, illustrated by Marilee Robin Burton, Harper (New York, NY), 1990.

Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights, illustrated by John Himmelman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Hooray! It's Passover!, illustrated by John Himmelman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Sound the Shofar! A Story of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, illustrated by John Himmelman, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Dance, Sing, Remember: A Celebration of Jewish Holidays, illustrated by Ora Eitan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

The Runaway Latkes, illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, Albert Whitman & Co. (Morton Grove, IL), 2000.

In rhyming couplets, Leslie Kimmelman presents a Middle America town preparing for an Independence Day celebration as seen through the eyes of enthusiastic young Jenny. (From Happy Fourth of July, Jenny Sweeney!, illustrated by Nancy Cote.)

Round the Turkey: A Grateful Thanksgiving, illustrated by Nancy Cote, Albert Whitman & Co. (Morton Grove, IL), 2002.

Happy Fourth of July, Jenny Sweeney!, illustrated by Nancy Cote, Albert Whitman & Co. (Morton Grove, IL), 2003.

Emily and Bo, Best Friends, illustrated by True Kelley, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2005.

How Do I Love You?, illustrated by Lisa McCue, HarperCollins (New York, NY), in press.

Sidelights

In her children's books author Leslie Kimmelman focuses on strong family relationships. Whether working together, enjoying special outings, or sharing the special joy of a holiday season, Kimmelman's books portray loving families wherein young children are nurtured and allowed to participate. In Frannie's Fruits, her first picture book, parents and children work side by side at the bustling, seasonal fruit-and-vegetable stand named for the family dog. There is much to be done, as the fresh produce must be washed, polished, and piled high, the flowers trimmed and freshened, and merchandise shelved and priced. Told through the eyes of the family's youngest daughter, the book chronicles the day's events and each customer's purchases and eccentricities, including, as Hanna B. Zeiger noted in Horn Book, everyone from "the sour woman who wants a dozen lemons to the romantic couple buying the biggest bouquet of flowers." The critic praised Frannie's Fruits as "a welcome addition to stories about people working and enjoying their work."

Me and Nana, revolves around the special bond between young Natalie and her sprightly, slightly unusual grandmother, a woman with whom the girl enjoys spending time. Writing in Booklist, Ellen Mandel remarked that Kimmelman and illustrator Marilee Robin Burton "invite readers to be part of the warm and loving twosome's perfect relationship."

Happy Fourth of July, Jenny Sweeney! finds a young girl caught up in the excitement of her town's Independence Day celebration. Jenny decides to take part in the bustle by washing her family dog, and the book recounts the preparations of the girl's family and neighbors in getting ready for the parade. Kimmelman describes the festivities in rhyming couplets enhanced by illustrations that School Library Journal reviewer Linda M. Kenton noted "honor America's melting pot" through the inclusion of an ethnically diverse neighborhood. Reflecting pride in the heritage the holiday represents, Kimmelman closes her book with a page detailing information regarding the flag, the Liberty Bell, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Many of Kimmelman's books focus on the traditions of the Jewish faith. In Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights the "warmth of family love and joy of holiday celebration light up" what a School Library Journal reviewer called a "simple narrative." Each of the eight nights of Hanukkah is described by Kimmelman in two sentences on a double-page spread. The rituals and activities associated with the holiday are illustrated by various family members as they engage in lighting candles, flipping latkes, and giving holiday blessings. Eleven Jewish holidays are given broader coverage in Kimmelman's Dance, Sing, Remember: A Celebration of Jewish Holidays, which covers not only the well-known Rosh Hashanah and Hannukkah but also includes Shavot, Shabbat, and Yom Hashoah. In School Library Journal, Teri Markson noted that Kimmelman's text is "wonderfully written, simple yet informative," while Stephanie Zvirin added in Booklist that the author introduces the holidays "in a lively, dramatic way, limiting details so as not to overwhelm [the] very young." Praising the book as "valuable for its inclusion of several holidays rarely (if ever) mentioned in secular children's literature," Horn Book reviewer Lauren Adams added that Dance, Sing, Remember, with illustrations by Ora Eitan, "is truly an invitation to celebrate."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 1990, Ellen Mandel, review of Me and Nana, p. 447; September 1, 1992, p. 63; March 15, 1996, Ellen Mandel, review of Hooray! It's Passover, p. 1266; October 1, 2000, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Dance, Sing, Remember: A Celebration of Jewish Holidays, p. 356; May 15, 2003, Karen Hutt, review of Happy Fourth of July, Jenny Sweeney!, p.1672.

Horn Book, May-June, 1989, Hanna B. Zeiger, review of Frannie's Fruits, pp. 359-360; July, 1990, p. 39; November, 2000, Lauren Adams, review of Dance, Sing, Remember, p. 769.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1989, p. 210; March 15, 2003, review of Happy Fourth of July, Jenny Sweeney!, p.470.

New York Times Book Review, September 10, 1989, p. 32; November 11, 1990, p. 57.

Publishers Weekly, February 24, 1989, p. 230; September 7, 1992, review of Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights, p. 62; February 12, 1996, review of Hooray! It's Passover, p. 72; July 27, 1998, review of Sound the Shofar, p. 70; September 15, 2000, review of The Runaway Latkes, p. 66.

School Library Journal, June, 1989, p. 90; November, 1990, p. 94; October, 1992, review of Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights, p. 42; October, 2000, review of The Runaway Latkes, p. 65, and Teri Markson, review of Dance, Sing, Remember, p. 148; September, 2002, Genevieve Gallagher, review of Round the Turkey: A Grateful Thanksgiving, p. 195; July, 2003, Linda M. Kenton, review of Happy Fourth of July, Jenny Sweeney!, p. 100.*

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