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[Nonfiction Wednesday] Rescuing Books From Obscurity And Oblivion

"The Book Rescuer" by Sue Macy and Stacy Innerst.

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

This picturebook is not necessarily about comic creators, but about a man who was determined to rescue books from obscurity and oblivion.


The Book Rescuer (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Sue Macy Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Published by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (2019)
ISBN: 1481472208 (ISBN13: 9781481472203). Literary Award: Sydney Taylor Book Award for Picture Book (2020). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins with Aaron Lansky’s grandmother who migrated from Eastern Europe to the United States. She painstakingly packed only what she considered her essentials, in order for her to begin a new life in her adopted country. However, upon arrival, her entire suitcase was thrown into the Hudson river by her older brother who picked her up – a sign that she is to make a clean break from her old life, and jump right into the unknown.

The image above was especially poignant for me, mainly because we have just recently moved from Singapore (where we lived for the past eleven years) to the UAE. Imagining our 20 foot container being thrown into the sea, with over 200 boxes of my precious books, would most likely give me a heart attack.

Fast forward into the present, Aaron Lansky, grandson of immigrants, fell in love with books, particularly Jewish literature – this being linked to his ancestry and the history of his people.

What started off as a passion project has led to the establishment of the Yiddish Book Center and Aaron being the recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant that provided him the resources he needed to continue hunting down Yiddish books that are either discarded, destroyed, or gathering dust somewhere. I truly appreciated the ardent love for literature here that serves as a representation of one’s cultural identity.


Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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