British indie publisher Greenhill Books is to make its first foray into children’s with Green Bean Books, a new imprint of Jewish-interest titles.
Greenhill publisher Michael Leventhal (pictured) said the impetus for Green Bean was personal frustration at the lack of quality Jewish children’s books in English, particularly in the UK market. He said: “I have two young sons and have been really disappointed by [Jewish-interest] kids’ titles in the UK, most of which aren’t remotely inspiring or engaging. There are more books from the US market, but many of these aren’t quite right for Britain and are rather ham-fisted. In Hebrew or Russian [languages], there are some wonderful publishers doing great work. A canon of Jewish folk literature has been largely forgotten: I want to resurrect these stories.”
Kicking off the list are picture books aimed at readers aged four to eight: Shoham Smith and Vali Mintzi’s Signs in the Well; Shlomo Abas and Omer Hoffman’s The Sages of Chelm and the Moon; and Ori Elon and Menachem Halberstadt’s A Basket Full of Figs. The last two are new takes on classic Jewish folktales, while Signs in the Well is about first-century scholar Rabbi Akiva.
Greenhill is a military history specialist, and Leventhal noted the children’s imprint “was a certainly a change from the Battle of the Bulge and books about snipers”. He added: “We were going to focus solely on picture books in translation, but I’ve just bought some YA and commissioned some English-language titles.”