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Today's guest author is one of my favorite storytellers, Joel ben Izzy. I fell in love with his first book, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness and I've been a fan ever since.
Joel wrote a guest column today and I've included an alternate read, a link to preview his latest book, a young adult book enjoyable for all readers, Dreidels on the Brain. There's also a delightful contest for those of you who sample his book today. You'll have fun. Be sure to enter.
In 1983 storyteller Joel ben Izzy graduated from Stanford University and set off to travel the globe, gathering and telling stories. Since then, he has performed and led workshops in thirty-five countries. Over the years he has also produced six recorded collections of his stories, which have won awards from Parents' Choice foundation, NAPPA, the ALA, and a Booklist Editor's Choice Honor. Joel is also one of the nation's most sought-after story consultants, supporting organizations and leaders working to make the world a better place, with clients in fields ranging from philanthropy to medicine to technology to entertainment. Joel's first book was the highly acclaimed memoir The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, which has been published in seventeen languages and is currently in development as both a film and a musical. He lives with his wife, Taly, in Berkeley, California. They have two grown children.
The link to sample Joel's new release, Dreidels on the Brain, is at the end of his column. Welcome my friend, author Joel ben Izzy...
Here's the thing about light: You only notice it when it's dark.
As a professional storyteller, that truth is central to my work. It's a lesson I first learned during Hanukkah, 1971. It was a time when the world seemed to be coming apart, with the Viet Nam War raging on and our country under the spell of Richard Millhouse Nixon.
For me, it was a dark time. At age 12, I was the nerdiest of nerds, stuck in the least magical place on earth--the suburbs of the suburbs of Los Angeles. I tried to make magic of my own, performing at birthday parties to help support my family, as we were broke and my father was sick. Although magic was my passion, what I really wanted was a Haanukah miracle.
Whether you're Jewish or not, Chanukkah is so confusing it can give you a cheadache--no can even agree how to spell it, which is how you know it's a Jewish choliday. But this much is clear: Kchanukah is supposed to be about miracles.
And that is why I made a bet with God, over a game of dreidel, the spinning tops we play with during Chanukkah: Just give me one lousy Haanukah miracle--and I'll believe.
Without giving the story away, I will say this: When it comes to dreidel and miracles, God does not play fair. Because what actually happened to me and my family that Chaanukah was worse than I feared--and better than I'd hoped. The gift I received that Khannuka was a story I'll always treasure, and one I've held onto for forty-five years, waiting for the right time to share it.
That time is now, as the days grow shorter and darkness spreads. It's a tale meant for older kids and adults, Jews and non-Jews alike. Perhaps that's fitting, as Hanukkah begins this year at sunset on Christmas Eve--which may be just the time to curl up into a story filled with jokes and magic, about finding light within the darkness. I hope you enjoy it.
Joel ben Izzy
Please do email and say hello: Joel@storypage.com Sample the book Dreidels on the Brain and enter the contest:
Chaaanuuukkkah spelling contest!
As you read the excerpts from Dreidels on the Brain you'll notice I've spelled Haanuukkaah differently each time I've used it. I'll send a prize to the first eight readers who can count how many different spellings there are, list each one in an e-mail to me, then add a crazy one of your own, different from all the rest. E-mail your answer (and shipping address) to: Joel@storypage.com Winners' prizes will come in the mail, and your name will appear in DearReader!
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
AUTHORBUZZ: EGG DROP DEAD (Mystery) by Laura Childs
When Suzanne Dietz, proprietor of the Cackleberry Club Cafe, stops by Mike Mullen's dairy farm to pick up wheels of cheese, she's greeted by the urgent, upturned faces of cows that haven't been milked--as well as Mike's mangled body! Stunned by her grisly discovery, Suzanne vows to find out who killed this mild-mannered farmer. Juggling multiple suspects, a busy restaurant, tea parties, and a raucous Halloween celebration, Suzanne maintains her good humor and keeps her romance with the town doctor sizzling.
Go to: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader click on EGG DROP DEAD to find out more about the book and the author, Laura Childs. Send her an email, she'd love to hear from you.