Pick a Portrait

In partnership with Jewish Lives, PJ Library is offering a free book to PJ Library parents (with children ages 4 and up) and grandparents.

You can select one of the three biographies described below, each featuring a Jewish cultural icon.

 

 


 

STAN LEE: A Life in Comics

by Liel Leibovitz
(published April 2020)


Few artists have had as much of an impact on American popular culture as Stan Lee. The characters he created – Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four – occupy Hollywood’s imagination and come as close as anything we have to a shared American mythology.

This illuminating biography focuses as much on Lee’s ideas as it does on his unlikely rise to stardom. It surveys his cultural and religious upbringing and draws surprising connections between celebrated comic book heroes and the ancient tales of the Bible, the Talmud, and Jewish mysticism.

Be inspired by this book to make a family comic:

Family Activity Guide


 

HOUDINI: The Elusive American

by Adam Begley
(published March 2020)


Born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, Houdini grew up an impoverished Jewish immigrant in the Midwest and became world-famous thanks to talent, industry, and ferocious determination. Nobody knows how Houdini performed some of his dazzling, death-defying tricks, and nobody knows why he felt compelled to punish and imprison himself again and again.

Tracking the restless Houdini’s wide-ranging exploits, acclaimed biographer Adam Begley asks the essential question: What kind of man was this?

Be inspired by this book to stage a family magic show:

Family Activity Guide

 



 

BARBRA STREISAND: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, & Power

by Neil Gabler
(published April 2016)


An enthralling appreciation of the gifted popular artist who challenged Hollywood’s standards of beauty and glamour

Barbra Streisand has been called the “most successful...performer of her generation” by Vanity Fair. Streisand has scaled the heights of entertainment—from a popular vocalist to a first-rank Broadway star to an Oscar-winning actress to a producer and director.

But she has also become a cultural icon who has transcended show business. To achieve her success, Brooklyn-born Streisand had to overcome tremendous odds, not the least of which was her Jewishness. Dismissed, insulted, even reviled when she embarked on a show business career for acting too Jewish and looking too Jewish, she brilliantly converted her Jewishness into a metaphor for outsiderness that would eventually make her the avenger for those who felt marginalized and powerless.

Neal Gabler examines Streisand’s life and career through this prism of otherness—a Jew in a non-Jewish world, a self-proclaimed homely girl in a world of glamour, a kooky girl in a world of convention—and shows how central it was to Streisand’s triumph as one of the voices of her age.

Timeline of Streisand's life, with book-related discussion questions.

Be inspired by this book to have a family singalong:

Family Activity Guide