Linda Leopold Strauss
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A Different Kind of Passover

A Different Kind of Passover
(Kar-Ben 2017)

“Those who celebrate Passover will find a story that resonates with tradition and family love. The colorful illustrations depict a … family drawn together at a special time. A… sympathetic tale that will resonate with many families.” - Kirkus Reviews



Best Friends Pretend!

Best Friends Pretend!
(Scholastic/Cartwheel Books, 2014)

“This cheerful celebration of imagination introduces two little girls-the best of friends-who like nothing better than to pretend....Toddlers and preschoolers will use these pretend ideas as a springboard to all sorts of adventures of their own conjuring.” - Kirkus Reviews

“The two friends that star in this board book aren't content to just ‘play princesses’ (though they enjoy doing that, too). In their imaginations, the girls also pretend to be ice-cream truck operators, superheroes, astronauts, and explorers (‘Through the jungle,/ down the river,/ nighttime noises/ make us shiver’) Solid fodder for readers' own imaginary exploits”. - Publishers Weekly



The Elijah Door - A Passover Tail

The Elijah Door - A Passover Tale
(Holiday House 2012)

“Feuding families live in “side-by-side houses in a small village that was sometimes Poland and sometimes Russia” in this original folktale that may be destined to become a Passover classic. Shortly after the Galinskys swap two fat geese for six of the Lippas’ laying hens, the geese die, and thus a feud is born. Were they sick before the swap or was it an accident? Who knows? Now the families refuse to speak to one another, although they had shared the Passover seder for many years. Young friends Rachel Galinksy and David Lippa, whose future betrothal has been thwarted by this turn of events, defy their families — Romeo and Juliet style — and enlist the town’s clever rabbi in a sophisticated ruse to bring the families back together at Passover. An artist’s note explains that the elaborate hand-painted woodcuts were inspired by traditional Eastern European folk prints from the 18th and 19th centuries. A couple of full-page spreads at the end of the book are particularly impressive: One serves as a joyous glimpse into the bygone era of village life at Passover time, and the other radiates the simple pleasures of “all the town’s Jews gathered with the Galinskys and the Lippas in one great celebration of love and freedom and family.” This beautifully illustrated book presents a wisely told tale with a new spin on what opening the door for Elijah can really mean.” – The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A.

"A foolish argument creates a feud that can only be resolved through a wisely engineered pretense.
The Galinskys and the Lippas trade geese and hens with unequal results. When the geese die and an unreasonable misunderstanding ensues, the family elders cut off their longstanding friendship. But David Lippa and Rachel Galinsky, like Romeo and Juliet, wish to marry. They seek the Rabbi’s advice to bring the two families together and involve the rest of the villagers in a ruse to gain invitations from their feuding parents for the yearly Passover Seder. “One by one the neighbors came…. pleading injury, poverty, bad planning, or broken dishes.” Preparations for the mammoth ceremonial dinner include a lot of furniture—stretching from each family’s house until two long, winding tables almost connect between backyards. Heeding the Rabbi’s plea for joyous celebration “in our love for each other,” the feud ends, with the Rabbi’s own table unifying the two dinners before the Seder begins. But how to welcome Elijah outside? David and Rachel go back inside to open the unused front door for the symbolic gesture. Old-world storytelling depicting a bygone era of Eastern European shtetl life is augmented by folk-art–inspired, roughly detailed woodcuts hand-colored with watercolor inks.
The prudent message that all Jews are one family rings out clearly and joyfully.” - Kirkus Reviews, Picture book/religion. 5-8

“Shtetl neighbors, once good friends, feud over a small matter and refuse to celebrate Passover together as they normally would. The children of the two families, with the help of the rabbi and other villagers, fool their parents into sharing the Seder, and peace is restored. This original story has a folktale flavor and a wry, Yiddishlike tone of voice. Passover is not really the focus of the story, but familiarity with it is assumed. Familiarity with shtetl life is also a plus as it will help readers understand descriptions like “a small village that was sometimes Poland and sometimes Russia.” The story will best be appreciated by adults who understand the references and style; young readers will enjoy the humor but will require some adult explanation to truly get it. The block-print artwork, inspired by traditional Eastern European folk art, is chunky and harsh, and its odd beauty suits the story quite well. Due to its humor and appeal for adults, this book would be a good choice for family programs in communities where Passover is celebrated.”– Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL GR 2-5 - School Library Journal

“This folklore set in an Old World town (at times Poland, at times Russia) explores the Lippa and Galinsky families, who shared their lives and celebrated holidays together before the parents have a foolish argument over geese and hens. The families stop talking and even board the door between their two houses, using side doors to avoid seeing each other. But Rachel Galinsky and David Lippa are in love and plot a scheme, along with the village rabbi, to end the feud and bring the village together for the Passover seder. When it’s time to open the door to welcome Elijah, the hope of the prophet’s presence helps heal the bitter and angry hearts of the parents. Alexi Natchev’s beautifully colored block prints evoke an Old World feel but also are playful and filled with expressive detail and movement.” – Arizona Jewish Post, 3/20/2012

“The Galinskys and the Lippas have been neighbors and friends for generations, but a small bartering disagreement has sundered that friendship. Young Rachel Galinsky and David Lippa have always known they would marry, but now that fairy tale ending seems impossible. As Passover approaches and the families refuse to share the holiday meals as they always have, the two children realize that the time has come to enlist the aid of their wise rabbi, who quickly implements a plan to help bring peace to the seder table. Natchev’s artwork—created by carving an image into wood and linoleum plates, inking the image with a roller, printing it by hand, then hand-coloring with watercolors—does a magnificent job of bringing this Jewish Romeo and Juliet fable to life.” – Publishers Weekly




The Princess Gown by Linda Leopold Strauss

The Princess Gown
(Houghton Mifflin 2008)

Hanna’s family has staked its future on winning the kingdom-wide contest for the design of Princess Annabel’s wedding dress. The whole family has helped make the dress—everyone but Hanna, the youngest (and messiest) child, who may not go near the precious creation. But just before Papa takes the dress to the palace to be judged, he decides that even messy Hanna must be included in this once-in-a-lifetime project. Hanna takes the final stitch in the gown and sees…a spot! What to do? The queen is said to have eyes like a hawk.  Will Hanna’s family wind up in the poorhouse? But then Hanna has an idea to save the day.

This picture book, with lavish illustrations by Malene Laugesen, got its start in the author’s family history, where in Victorian England, her husband’s great great great grandfather was Embroiderer to the Queen.

"...practically edible. A tale fit for a princess, or at least an aspiring one." -Kirkus Reviews

"...Creating a nearly tangible, saturated texture...the pictures keep step with the well-paced tale." -Publishers Weekly

“…With its exquisite illustrations, clever text, and substantive content, The Princess Gown comes as a breath of fresh air in the crowded market of princess books." –Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children



Preshool Day Hooray! by Linda Leopold Strauss

Preshool Day Hooray!
(Scholastic/Cartwheel Books, 2010)

"What a delightful book! This story is the perfect one to read to your child who is getting ready to go to preschool! My five-year-old daughters will soon be attending so I feel fortunate to have such a wonderful story to share with them as they prepare for the next step in their life journey.".... read more  

“Jaunty rhymes describe a child's typical day at preschool. First things first: "Hi to teacher, / Coat on hook. / Run to shelf / And find a book." Later: "Find my mat / And make a nest. / Shhhh! I need to / Take a rest." Strauss's economical text is age appropriate, and Nakata's colorful, blocky illustrations give kids lots to look at.” – Horn Book

“This book provides a comforting and specific look at the school day….Hiroe Nakata’s illustrations…provide a gentle and familiar world.” - Chicago Tribune, 7/24/10

“We read it about 23 times a day….Don’t you love it when you find the perfect book to help you through a parenting challenge?” – Canadian Family, Family Jewels Blog
“A soothing and relatable story for those getting ready for preschool.” - Publishers Weekly




Drop Everything and Write!

Drop Everything and Write!
An Easy Breezy Guide for Kids Who Want to Write a Story
(E&E Publishing, December 15, 2010)

Kids who like to write, teachers, librarians, parents of homeschoolers, even adult writers – drop everything and take a look at this book, winner of the USA Book News Best Books 2010 Award (Young Adult Educational category).

In an easy-to-follow style, DROP EVERYTHING AND WRITE! shows readers how to mine their world for story-starters; how to collect details to enrich their writing; how to create characters, establish settings, construct plot, write dialogue ….and ultimately how to put all these things together into a complete, engaging, successful story.  Instructive, enjoyable DROP EVERYTHING AND WRITE! exercises are scattered throughout the book. Here’s a typical exercise to try:

Describe an Archibald, a Rocky, an Agatha, and a Lulu. When you’re finished, rename the characters you’ve described. Do the descriptions still feel right to you? If necessary, adjust the descriptions to suit the new names.

"DROP EVERYTHING AND WRITE! by Linda Leopold Strauss has a number of exercises that can help young writers add sensory details to their writing. One activity is a 'Listening Walk,' in which the writer records all the sounds heard on the street such as shoes on the sidewalk or a car driving over a manhole. Her example of her own 'Listening Walk' would be a great read aloud model in the classroom. With entertaining anecdotes, Strauss warns against letting subplots or minor characters overrun a story and distracting the reader’s attention. She defines many important writer’s terms such as flashback, transitions, black moment, and voice. In a chapter entitled, 'Show, Don’t Tell,' Strauss explains the advantages of including details rather than summarizing the action. She encourages young writers to spice up their writing by describing an angry character’s actions rather than simply saying he was angry or setting a scene with images from all five senses. Finally, she says that stories benefit from 'drawer time' and gives a checklist for polishing a draft that teachers and students should find very useful." -- Jacqueline Jules, Pencil Tips Writing Workshop

“DROP EVERYTHING AND WRITE! is a book that should be bought in single copies AND classroom sets.  Its inviting prose, thought-provoking exercises, and natural flow make it indispensable for aspiring writers and those who teach them.”  -- David Richardson, book review columnist for International Reading Association’s Reading Today

“DROP EVERYTHING AND WRITE! was originally intended as ‘an easy breezy guide for kids who want to write a story,’ but I have found the book to be equally helpful for adult writers. I teach Writing for Children at a community college, and many of the ‘Drop Everything and Write’ exercises were perfect for my students. The format of the book is clear and easy to follow. My adult writers were inspired….Such a great book for new writers of all ages.” -- Andrea Cheng, author of Only One Year and Brushing Mom's Hair




Really, Truly, Everything's Fine
(Marshall Cavendish, 2004)
Really, Truly, Everything's Fine...until Jill learns her father has been accused of a serious crime and faces up to ten years in prison. Jill's mom kicks Dad out of the house, and all at once everything isn't so fine, though that's what Jill’s mom wants others to believe. The problem is, none of the grown-ups tells Jill anything, so she has to figure out the truth on her own -- the truth about her dad; the truth about her mom, who avoids her feelings by working; the truth about her little brother, Markie, who looks to her for answers; the truth about the kids at school, who treat her differently when they read about her dad in the newspaper.

So what is the truth?

And how does Jill deal with it?

“A positive portrayal of a young teen making a difference.” –School Library Journal

“[Strauss’s] portrait of an adolescent under enormous strain is both credible and empathetic, and snatches of Jill's diary, worked throughout the otherwise third-person narrative, give readers immediate access to Jill's analytical acuity. An honest portrayal of how hard it can be to ask for help.” -Booklist



The Alexander Ingredient by Linda Leopold Strauss

The Alexandra Ingredient
(New York: Crown, 1988; available now in iuniverse paperback).  Nominee: 1991 Mark Twain Award, State of Missouri     

Alexandra Plummer can’t seem to do anything right, even though everyone else in her family is super-organized and achieving, especially her “perfect” older sister Gloria. So when the Plummers adopt a grandfather, Alexandra secretly vows to reform, hoping that Mike, the new grandfather, will like her best of all her family. But looking before she leaps isn’t easy for Alexandra. The first time Mike comes to dinner, she practically sets the house on fire, and when she finds a kitten, she has to hide it at her friend Bethie’s house because her parents don’t think she’s responsible enough to have a pet. It’s not until Mike gets sick that Alexandra finally earns the respect of her family by giving Mike the special ingredient he needs to regain his will to live.

“Strauss makes Alexandra’s problems wonderfully comic and real…. A first novel of considerable promise.” –Kirkus Reviews

“The character development and the emotional experiences in this novel are genuine….” –School Library Journal

A “warm and funny story about the trials of being ten-years-old….” –Children’s Book Review Service



A Fairy Called Hilary

A Fairy Called Hilary
(Holiday House, 1999)

Hilary is a fairy who appears one day in Caroline’s family’s car when the family’s on its way to the Natural History Museum. Hilary is a real fairy – she can even fly, though she doesn’t have wings. But she can stay with Caroline and her family only on one condition - that no one besides the family (and their cat, King Arthur) can know she’s a fairy. So Caroline and Hilary must have their magic adventures in secret, because if anyone else finds out the truth about Hilary, she’ll have to disappear.

“A very funny little book…a wonderful frolic… [in which Strauss] mingles ordinary events and enchantment with ease.” –Kirkus Reviews

“This book is great because it is full of surprises and made me laugh.” –Kaitlyn J. (age 9), Spaghettibookclub

“This light-hearted engaging novel will have every reader wishing for a personal fairy.” –Clark County School District Library Services

Illustrations from THE ELIJAH DOOR copyright © 2012 by Alexi Natchev. Used by permission of Holiday House.

Illustrations from Preschool Day Hooray! copyright ©2010 by Hiroe Nakata. Used with permission from Scholastic/Cartwheel Books.

Cover art DROP EVERYTHING AND WRITE! copyright ©2010 by Mikhail Kazantsev. Reproduced by permission of E&E Publishing.

Illustrations from The Princess Gown by Linda Leopold Strauss, illustrations by Malene Reynolds Laugesen. Copyright ©2008. Used by permission Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Jacket cover art for REALLY, TRULY, EVERYTHING’S FINE copyright ©2004 by Janet Hamlin, used with permission of Marshall Cavendish.

Cover art for A FAIRY CALLED HILARY by Sue Truesdell, copyright ©1999, used with permission of Holiday House.