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Zayda Was a Cowboy

"The year was 1980. Fifty-two Americans were being held hostage in Iran and President Carter's efforts to rescue them were not successful...Ronald Reagan got elected president, John Lennon of the Beatles was shot dead, I drove everyone nuts singing the Doobie Brothers hit "What a Fool Believes" night and day, and Zayda came to live with us." And so begins the extraordinary story of how one family, and one young boy in particular, are changed forever when Zayda (Yiddish for "grandfather") comes to live with them. At first the young narrator, Bill, is resistant to all the changes in the house: Zayda spooks his friends, tries to get Bill to speak Yiddish, and demands strange foods like herring. But as Zayda starts telling Bill and his brother Danny the fascinating story of his life, a story filled with many extraordinary dangers and adventures, the boys begin to see their grandfather in a whole new light. From why, as a young boy, he was forced to flee his Russian village for America to how he eventually became a cowboy, Zayda holds the boys captive with his amazing tale. Like Zayda's grandsons, young readers - and their parents and teachers - will also be entranced by Zayda's saga. While the characters are fictional, Zayda's experiences are historically correct and are a colorful retelling of a fascinating yet little-known time of Jewish-American history. This book, like Zayda himself-funny, touching, and memorable--is destined to be a favourite of Jewish and non-Jewish children alike, teachers, librarians, and educators for many years to come.
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Promotional Information

A colourful retelling of a fascinating yet little-known time of Jewish-American history

About the Author

Surprisingly, Zayda Was a Cowboy is June Levitt Nislick's first children's book. A writer for the newsletter of the Jewish Family & Children's Service of North Jersey for many years, she had never considered publishing a children's book until winning the Sydney Taylor prize for an unpublished manuscript. A mother and a grandmother, Nislick lives with her husband in Manhattan.


"The true charm of the story is in listening to Zayda tell it ... Seldom does a written narrative so resemble human speech and just as seldom does narrative style establish character as well as this does."-Jewish Book World "The facts of cowboy work will fascinate kids, as will the seldom-told immigration story ... This will make a great read-aloud; the story will interest kids no matter what their religious background."-American Library Association Booklist "Though its characters are fictional, its Old World and New World adventures are historically accurate, often fascinating, sometimes humorous, and thoroughly empathetic ... an entertaining, rewarding read."-Ottawa Jewish Bulletin "Nislick"s historical fiction provides multicultural experiences that are good lessons for all ... Boys would enjoy the adventures of Zayda as a cowboy, and there are parts of this book that are laugh-out-loud funny."-Multicultural Review

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