Holocaust kidlit and current politics (and a podcast)

by marjorieingall on February 1, 2021

Illustration from "Peter's War" by Deborah Durland DeSaix and Karen Gray Ruelle

For International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wrote for Tablet about the best children’s Holocaust books of 2020. No Anne Frank bios; no picture books. FOR REASONS. 

This was my last piece for Tablet. I quit, after over a decade. I’m sad and still having dreams about it, which I realize is a bit pathetic. But it had to be done, and that’s all I’ll say. Hire me for your ghostwriting, children’s literature coverage, and cultural journalism needs! 

My SorryWatch co-writer Susan and I are hard at work on our book (tentatively called SORRY SORRY SORRY: THE CASE FOR GOOD APOLOGIES, forthcoming in 2022 from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster). We were just on a British podcast about language, called The Allusionist, together. We talked about the word “sorry.” It was a lot of fun, in large part because the interviewer, Helen Zaltzman, was so witty and quick. I did shock her into silence when I described one of my non-apology-related writing foci as “all things Jewy.” We were on Zoom and her eyes got humungous. I keep forgetting that British Jews are not like New York City Jews and do not crack wise in this manner. I’m sorry, Helen. [click to continue…]


hanukkah alert: best jewish children’s books of 2020

by marjorieingall on December 7, 2020

To be fair, these are the best books to give as gifts. All are delightful, none are too edumacational. In the last few years, I’ve published a whole separate list of best Holocaust books for children and teens (welcome to writing for the Jews) because I want to give a shout out to all the wonderful books that are not about our genocide.

On SorryWatch, here is Every Politician’s Apology for Violating Their Own Covid-19 Protocols.

And here is your daily Vinnie. Mood: Sleepy. Paw: Lorge.



The Quarantine Cat Report

by marjorieingall on November 24, 2020

The last time I posted, Vinnie had just gotten stuck between the screen door and the glass door, with the cat door RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. A month later, this sweet moron is still struggling with the notion of the cat door. Here is my daughter offering him moral support. 

This cat has helped make the last few terrible months bearable. [click to continue…]


did i mention the kitten?

by marjorieingall on October 26, 2020

Again, I feel gross doing self-promotion when the world is going to heck in a handcart, but the things I have written recently: A eulogy for RBG, a guide to voting with your kid (OH GOD PLEASE PLEASE VOTE WHETHER YOU HAVE A KID OR NOT BUT IF YOU HAVE A KID HOW THE HELL CAN YOU *NOT* VOTE) and a piece for the thrillingly redesigned SorryWatch on a fascinating literary apology from the annals of exquisitely polite Regency lady-writer history. (No, really.) Also a piece for the venerable Horn Book called “What Makes a Good Hanukkah Book?” in which I am snarky. It’s online as well as in print but you have to register to read it. 

I have also been writing Postcards to Voters. Not artsy ones like the ones on the web site, but at least I’m managing to keep the stink of desperation off them, I think.

In far happier news, the pandemic kitten is now a big boy but still providing endless entertainment. Sorry I can’t share the video of him running around bonking into things while his head was stuck in an empty tissue box, but I took the video while on the toilet and you can totally tell. Here, however, is Vinnie stuck between the glass door and the screen door…immediately after we put in a cat door.

He’s lucky he’s cute. He’s sleeping next to me (snoring like a mofo) as I type. 


anxiety is all around

by marjorieingall on September 8, 2020

Once again I have been remiss in updating this site but since time has no meaning anymore, who really cares? 

I have, of course, been writing things. I wrote about my INTENSE MISGIVINGS about Jennifer Grey’s just-announced Dirty Dancing sequel, which I expect will not do justice to the pointed lessons about social justice work, Jewishness, abortion rights activism, and class consciousness that are important aspects of the original film. Speaking of abortion, I wrote a piece about a lovely San Francisco-area “memory garden” for folks mourning miscarriages, neonatal loss, infertility and abortion. Reporting it was quite moving to me, and not just because it was the last trip I took before the pandemic walls closed in. Tablet re-upped a piece I did a few years back explaining Labor Day to kids and talking about it with teenagers.

I recently also did a piece about why the right is obsessed with the term “cancel culture.” (I’d argue this is true of some — not all — of my own colleagues at Tablet.) And as we gear up for school starting again, I did a roundup of (mostly recent) picture books about kids coping with anxiety and (mostly Jewish) middle-grade novels addressing the same topic. My own kid is sort of adrift; we still have no idea exactly when school is starting or how much of it will take place in the (ancient and overcrowded) building and how much will be purely Zoom. (Sorry, I meant Google. Apparently Zoom is too easily hacked, according to the Department of Education, which surely only coincidentally has deals with Google. Google Groups/Google Meet/Google for Education trigger huge privacy concerns, if not, y’know, porn. Also, “remote learning” in general is agonizing. There is no winning. Wear your masks, people. 

Here is a soothing photo of my cat sleeping on challah. 

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Stuff I have been writing and ALSO! NEW KITTEN!

by marjorieingall on June 26, 2020

I have been out of touch. Sorry. Updating the site feels a little frivolous right now. Also on a personal note my job at Tablet has expanded and I’m still learning the new design and content management system. And also also: NEW KITTEN!


Look again upon my NEW KITTEN!

Anyway, here are some things I wrote for Tablet recently: 

The Ethics of Takeout, about what Jewish law has to say about the balancing acts demanded by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Best Jewish(ish) Books about Summer Camp. Ah, camp. Plus a couple of suggestions for grownups. If I were to add another, I’d suggest Sarah Wendell’s Hanukkah novella Lighting the Flames, which I wrote about in Tablet a few years ago, about two friends who met at Jewish camp when they were seven and stayed friends every summer until they were both counselors, and then meet again to run a winter fundraiser for the camp. And there is Hanukkah-time hotness! What a delight to read a winter love story when it’s sweltering, and to read something in the romance genre in which both characters are happily, comfortably Jewish! And if you, like me, are totally unable to focus, it’s a novella. You don’t have to focus for long. 

How to Talk to Your Kids about Police Brutality, from a white Jewish perspective. 

Suggestions on how to run your own Jewish summer camp from home, which is not like the other articles on providing summer camp experience at home in that it is a joke. 

A call to cancel Mother’s Day (2020 did not feel like the right time, not when most of us can’t see our moms in person and friends are losing their moms unnecessarily to this terrible disease, and also did you know that Ann Reeves Jarvis, the original person being feted by her daughter was a freaking public health badass? so maybe it is a good time to celebrate after all, but too late now). 

Also I talked to NYT columnist (and friend) Paula Span about the best children’s books about death. And my pal Susan and I are working on redesigning the SorryWatch site and um, writing our book. 


rainbows ahoy

by marjorieingall on May 4, 2020

I am healthy again! Suck it, Covid-19! And thank you to my wonderful East Village neighbors, who took care of me and my family while we were all sweaty and hallucinating. Since writing this Tablet piece, I have learned another way in which we were lucky. My husband Jonathan’s doctor was MIA when he got sick (RUDE) so we got health advice from my doctor and from my brother-in-law. The latter is a brilliant genius person who is a professor at Albert Einstein and has managed school-based health clinics in the Bronx and Montefiore Hospital’s Adolescent AIDS clinic and he is a mensch and a half.

As it turned out, Jonathan’s doctor was MIA because he himself was very sick with Covid-19. Had he not been, he would have told Jonathan to go to the hospital when his temperature hit 103 and his blood oxygen level hit 83 percent. (Of course we have a pulse oximeter. What kind of Jews would we be without a home pulse oximeter?) And, Jonathan’s doctor said, if Jonathan had gone to the hospital he would have been admitted. And as we know now, a hospital is a really bad place to be. 

So we all lay around the living room wilting like clocks in a Dali painting and now we are better and I am coping with a massive Tablet redesign and feeling like the STUPIDEST PERSON IN THE WORLD for my inability to learn the new content management system. Maybe this brain fog is Covid-19 related, maybe it is perimenopause (fuck you, you sexist spellcheck, you should fucking KNOW THAT WORD), or maybe, as I mentioned, I’m just THE STUPIDEST PERSON IN THE WORLD. 

Regardless, please enjoy this fine specimen of NYC firefighterdom, posing with a box of masks we found in our shed and donated. 


happy-as-possible impending passover

by marjorieingall on April 5, 2020

We are a Covid-19 household, gearing up for Passover. Here’s what I’m thinking about. This afternoon I’m making nut-free charoset, which should wipe me out for the rest of the day.  [click to continue…]


In completely non-me news, I just saw Birds of Prey with my teenage kid who loves girl-power ass-kicking in media, and to my surprise, I loved it. I did not get any of the comic-book references and it did not matter. I also thought there was a direct visual reference to the Margaret Atwood line, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Let me know if you have inside knowledge. 


In me news, Spaghetti Bolognese! Jewish superfood! Its Hebraic origins SHROUDED IN MYSTERY! 

Passover is coming. A little planning ahead will help engage your kids in the seder and foster delight for all. 

Remember when I was bitching about there being too many bullshit picture books about Coco Chanel? Most of the gazillion picture books about Ruth Bader Ginsburg are better…but there are still TOO DANG MANY. And this is a problem. And I will tell you why. 

Over at SorryWatch.com, on the heels of the Astros’ crappy apologies for cheating, we have a GOOD sports apology:

It’s Australia’s apology to Peter Norman, the white athlete on this 1968 Olympic podium, who was punished mightily for supporting the two African-American athletes. 

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so much Holocaust

by marjorieingall on February 15, 2020

At Tablet, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wrote about the best Holocaust books of 2019. This year, I kept all Holocaust books off my annual list of the year’s best Jewish children’s books; I promised to talk about the best Holocaust books when the day of remembrance came around. The reason: As I’ve written many times, I feel there are too damn many children’s books about the Holocaust, and for the end-of-year gifting season, I really wanted to celebrate books that were NOT about genocide.

That said: If I were allowing myself to add ONE MORE book to the Best Holocaust Books column, it would be A Boy Is Not A Bird, about an 11-year-old boy in Romania in 1941. The only reason I cut it was that it’s sorta more Holocaust-adjacent than Holocaust? No Nazis, no concentration camps. (Honestly, consider that a point in its favor: Lesser-known setting.) A Boy is Not a Bird is both accomplished and odd, with an unreliable narrator — I love an unreliable narrator.

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