2006 Midwest Independent Publishers Association Midwest Book Awards
Honorable Mention in the Children/Young Adult Category
2007 Learning Magazine Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, Best Book Series - Nonfiction, Silver Medal WinnerThis feature article by Karyn Saemann appeared in "The Capital Times" in 2008
Teachers' Choice Award for Children's Books
Praise for Lizzie Kander
Hasia Diner, the Paul S. Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History and the director of the Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History at NYU
"First, let me say how fine the manuscript is. It is nicely written, conveys a tremendous amount of information, and weaves beautifully the personal details of LKB's life with the life of the community and the larger narrative of American history. She really comes to life in this piece."
Marcie Cohen Ferris, author of "Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South" and Associate Director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"What a delight to finally get to know the real Lizzie Kander in 'A Recipe for Success.' Lizzie Kander is my hero — she found other doorways when men closed doors to women, and she told us the secret — it was through their hearts and tummies. Lizzie understood the power of food to nourish, to educate, to calm, to raise money, and to spread love. This powerful Badger Biography tells this story beautifully, and whets our appetites to learn more about the important women in America's past."
Carolyn Phelan, Booklist February 2007
From the Badger Biographies series, this nicely designed paperback introduces social reformer Lizzie Kander. Born in Milwaukee in 1858 to German immigrant parents, she worked tirelessly to improve the health, welfare, and education of children and their families, particularly in the Jewish immigrant community. One fund-raising project for the Milwaukee Settlement House met with spectacular success. "The Settlement House Cookbook", which provided simple recipes for preparing nutritious and appealing dishes, went through many editions from 1901 to 1997 and funded many social services. Kann provides insights into Kander's times, her character, and her work in the community. Many lengthy sidebars bring in background information on topics as diverse as women's suffrage, Parcheesi, and marshmallows as well as questions from an actual 1878 Milwaukee high-school entrance exam. Appendixes include a time line, a glossary, and a few recipes. This very accessible biography is illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of period photos, drawings, and documents.
Reform Judaism book feature Fall 2007
Lizzie Kander (1858-1940) represents a generation of German-Jewish women dedicated to philanthropy and volunteerism. President of the first Jewish settlement house in Milwaukee, she herself taught cooking and homemaking classes to Jewish immigrants arriving from Russia and Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Written for young readers from eight to twelve, Bob Kann's biography of Lizzie Kander tells an inspiring tale of commitment and spunk. When the men on the board of the settlement house refused to allocate $18 to print the recipes for the students, she and her committee raised the money for publication by selling advertisements in the book. An immediate commercial success, The Settlement House Cook Book paid in part for the construction of a new settlement house building and later Milwaukee's Jewish Community Center. (It was reprinted forty times between 1901 and 1991 and sold over 2 million copies.) Called the "Jane Addams of Milwaukee," Kander was a warm and generous woman whose volunteer work laid the foundations for Jewish social services.
Praise for Badger Biography Series
Big Life Stories for Little Readers
Bios for Kids Honor People Who Made Wisconsin Special
They changed the face of Wisconsin. Now, their faces are becoming familiar to children around the state.
Since 2005, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press has tapped a diverse well of authors to write children's biographies of notable state figures.
Notable doesn't have to mean famous. Some "Badger Biographies Series" subjects, like Green Bay Packers founder Curly Lambeau, are household names. But others, like immigrant Swiss cheese maker Casper Jaggi, are little known yet accomplished extraordinary things.
"We want to have a balance of well-known and not," said Bobbie Malone, director of the society's Office of School Services, whose job is to cultivate potential titles and authors. So far, eight books are out, and more are coming.
"I do love what I do," said Malone, a former first-grade teacher who, when not editing the latest biography or some other society publication, travels around the state showing teachers how to bring Wisconsin history alive.
SO MANY STORIES
"What's not to fall in love with? There are so many interesting stories," mused Malone from her tiny office overlooking UW-Madison's Library Mall.
The authors, too, say they've found inspiration in the stories that, in addition to Lambeau and Jaggi, have so far included Hmong refugee Mai Ya Xiong; escaped African-American slave and Underground Railroad user Caroline Quarlls; the founders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles; Mountain Wolf Woman, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation; the Ringling Brothers of circus fame; and Milwaukee Jew Lizzie Kander, whose "Settlement Cook Book" taught American homemaking to immigrant women and raised money for social causes.
"I think it's fascinating to see how people lived their lives," said Diane Young Holliday, an archaeologist who authored "Mountain Wolf Woman: A Ho-Chunk Girlhood."
Ultimately, "we want people to fall in love with the past so they value it and connect it to their own lives," Malone said.
Bob Kann, who inked Lizzie Kander's story and is himself a Jew whose mother owned a "Settlement Cook Book," said readers will relate to the tales of hard work and determination.
"It's important to expose kids to people who are exemplary, to show how people accomplished what they accomplished, how they dealt with defeat and to show their resilience in how they bounced back," Kann said.
Of Milwaukee's Jewish immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th Century, Kann said he hoped to show "how difficult their lives were, and how courageous it was for them to come to this country with very few resources."
"There weren't any social service agencies," Kann said. "They were very fortunate to have people like Lizzie Kander who were filling that gap."
FOR YOUNG READERS
Writing for children isn't easy.
Jerry Apps, a veteran writer who with the exception of two titles has spent 35 years crafting adult books, called writing for children "extremely difficult."
Apps adapted both of his Badger Biographies titles, on the Ringling family and Jaggi, from adult books he previously wrote on the same subjects.
"It's boiling down the material in such a way that you get to the essence of it, in a way that communicates to young readers yet doesn't compromise the history," Apps said.
"I wasn't sure if I could explain things at a fourth-grade level," admitted Young Holliday, recalling reservations she had when collaborating with Malone on a publication previous to "Mountain Wolf Woman."
In some cases, it's weighing how to appropriately present the tainted personal lives of memorable people to a target audience of fourth- through eighth-graders, without whitewashing too much truth.
For all his legendary professional success, Curly Lambeau treated people badly and had serious character flaws that included infidelity, said Stuart Stotts, a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan and author of "Curly Lambeau: Building the Green Bay Packers."
"Curly was a philanderer, but that is not really dealt with in the book," Stotts said. "We didn't feel that was appropriate for 10-year-olds. You say a little bit about how he was divorced three times, and something about his inability to get along with people, but don't go into the details of extramarital affairs."
However, "I think 7- to 10-year-olds are quite capable of understanding that people are complex," Stotts said. "I think at this age they are quite able to recognize that people may have good qualities and bad qualities at the same time. The subtleties of behavior are not at all beyond what they are dealing with in their own social situations."
"I think as a biographer it's our job to make people's character flaws clear if we are aware of them, but not to dwell on them. The purpose of the book is not to bring down Curly Lambeau, but we have to be realistic about who he was."
Similarly tricky adult situations led to Mountain Wolf Woman's story focusing not on her grown-up years, but on her childhood, Malone said.
"You want to make it real but you can't overwhelm young readers with details or information they can't handle," Malone said.