Winner, 2021 Reference & Bibliography Award in the ‘Reference’ Section, given by the Association of Jewish Libraries
An unprecedented treasury of Yiddish children’s stories and poems enhanced with original illustrations
While there has been a recent boom in Jewish literacy and learning within the US, few resources exist to enable American Jews to experience the rich primary sources of Yiddish culture. Stepping into this void, Miriam Udel has crafted an exquisite collection: Honey on the Page offers a feast of beguiling original translations of stories and poems for children.
Arranged thematically—from school days to the holidays—the book takes readers from Jewish holidays and history to folktales and fables, from stories of humanistic ethics to multi-generational family sagas. Featuring many works that are appearing in English for the first time, and written by both prominent and lesser-known authors, this anthology spans the Yiddish-speaking globe—drawing from materials published in Eastern Europe, New York, and Latin America from the 1910s, during the interwar period, and up through the 1970s. With its vast scope, Honey on the Page offers a cornucopia of delights to families, individuals and educators seeking literature that speaks to Jewish children about their religious, cultural, and ethical heritage.
Complemented by whimsical, humorous illustrations by Paula Cohen, an acclaimed children’s book illustrator, Udel’s evocative translations of Yiddish stories and poetry will delight young and older readers alike.
Honey on the Page is an extraordinary collection, an enchanted time capsule that makes the richness of Yiddish children’s literature available to English readers as never before. It’s a gift for all—one that will move, delight, and enlighten every reader.Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, author of Nurture the Wow
Brimming with magic and wisdom, Honey on the Page is brilliant not only for its lyrical translations but also for its broad collection of tales. Discrete sections guide the reader back in time through myriad aspect of Jewish life, from glittering holidays and heroes to secular and observant experiences. The twists and turns of morality and history are revealed not only in these incandescent stories but also through Udel’s meticulous research. The biographies of each author are gems in their own right that shine as bright as her translations.Rachel Barenbaum, author of A Bend in the Stars
A modern classic of Jewish children’s literature. Miriam Udel has opened wide the treasure chest of Yiddish tales for the young, and parents and children of all ages are in her debt.Jeremy Dauber, Atran Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture, Columbia University
“These stories are a delight! Udel’s translations bring them to life with verve, humor, and stunning lin- guistic resourcefulness. She skillfully modulates her English from story to story, poem to poem, creating a series of distinct, memorable voices―no mean feat with such a broad range of texts, authors, and moods. With this book in hand, no-one will feel “too little-kid-ish / To pick up a story / And read it in Yiddish”―or in this case, in Udel’s warm, sure-handed, joyful English-language renderings. Sheer pleasure for readers of all ages”Bill Johnston, Professor of Comparative Literature, Indiana University, and award-winning translator
“There is much in this wonderful collection for Jewish parents who want to give their children a taste of Jewish folk culture. But what stands out are the tales emphasizing the radical Jewish heritage that is inseparable from the linguistic culture that is Yiddishkeit, the inflections of which are faithfully cap- tured in Udel’s translations: stories about Labzik, the proletarian puppy (by the great Khaver Paver); about a child whose willingness to sacrifice all his toys for the sake of peace convinces the ruler of his country to give up war (“A Boy and His Samovar”); and about birds who refuse to sing until all the caged birds in their city are freed (“The Birds Go on Strike”). Udel’s excellent introduction and her selections from out-of-print books and magazines published throughout the Jewish diaspora provide a fascinating survey of Yiddish children’s literature”Julia L. Mickenberg, University of Texas at Austin, author of American Girls in Red Russia
Udel is an excellent translator. Each story and poem sounds like it was originally written in English… Honey on the Page is an expertly translated, whimsically illustrated selection of lesser-known Yiddish stories and poems for children. Like the best anthologies, it is an eye-opening work of literary history, gleefully introducing a sea of lightly known authors through both their work and meticulously crafted biographical sketches.”Jewish Review of Books
“This rightly named treasury, Miriam Udel’s Honey on the Page, features almost fifty literary works, ranging from folktales to poetry, and from an entertaining story about the angry alef-beys to fascinating historical accounts and the adventures of Khaver Paver’s Labzik the clever pup…[O]ne of the most impressive books I’ve read in a long time.”In geveb
“Miriam Udel, a scholar of German and Jewish studies at Emory University, has gifted the world with a treasure of a book that introduces readers of all ages to the wealth of little-known Jewish children’s stories by more than 25 early 20th century Yiddish writers, including Sholem Asch, Zina Rabinowitz and Mordkhe Spektor. The rich anthology, perfect for reading aloud, is a keeper to return to over the years.”Jewish Telegraphic Agency
“An extensive collection of Yiddish literary texts for children translated into English, this anthology contains works from familiar as well as not so widely known Yiddish language writers… [A] comprehensive and valuable set of stories and poetry.”Kirkus Reviews
“Miriam Udel’s essential, rich collection of Yiddish tales revives the appealing stories that early twentieth century Jewish children were told as introductions to their history and tradition.”Foreword Magazine
“A welcome and important addition to any home or school library…wonderfully translated and impeccably edited anthology of almost 50 Yiddish tales.”Hadassah Magazine
“There are many gems in this collection…Honey on the Page: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature is highly recommended for both children and adults.”The Jewish Book Council
“Parents will read stories from Honey on the Page aloud until their children can read by themselves, and most stories are simple, yet clever and subtle enough for every age.”Atlanta Jewish Times
“Longing for tales from mamaloshen, but aren’t fluent in the Yiddish language? This collection of some 50 stories, fables, poems and more, translated into English, will likely make you smile.”Intermountain Jewish News
The name of this book, which was inspired by the Jewish tradition of putting honey on students’ books to make the learning sweet, is a fitting title. Translated by Miriam Udel, “Honey on the Page” is a collection of Yiddish stories and poems focusing on Jewish holidays, history and folklore. From talking lions to mystical rabbis, the tales in “Honey On the Page” capture the very heart of fantasy that brings breath to Jewish culture, honoring our people’s mythology and mysticism. Though the stories were primarily designed for children to grow and learn from, anyone of any age can enjoy them.Alma
“These twentieth-century pieces…range from magical holiday stories to wonder-filled ballads to silly tales featuring the fools of Chelm. A perfect resource for families or religious school read-alouds.”Booklist
“This thematically arranged anthology of Yiddish children’s literature in translation brings to the readers of English an eye-opening array of often little known authors and their beguiling stories. If all you (or your students) know of Yiddish culture is ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in this book you’ll discover stories, fables and folklore from New York and Latin America in addition to he expected shtetl tales. The book would be excellent for an intrepid younger reader, as well as a rich resource for educators and researchers.”Tradition