In this post, we feature author Chana Stiefel, whose previous titles include Let Liberty Rise! How America’s Schoolchildren Helped Save the Statue of Liberty, illustrated by Chuck Groenink. You can hear her speak about her recent title, The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs, illustrated by Susan Gal, and try her “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!
- Written by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Susan Gal
- Published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
- Release date: October 4, 2022
There once was a girl named Yaffa. She loved her family, her home, and her beautiful Polish town that brimmed with light and laughter. She also loved helping her Grandma Alte in her photography studio. There, shopkeepers, brides, babies, and bar mitzvah boys posed while Grandma Alte captured their most joyous moments on film. And before the Jewish New Year, they sent their precious photographs to relatives overseas with wishes for good health and happiness. But one dark day, Nazi soldiers invaded the town. Nearly 3,500 Jewish souls—including family, friends, and neighbors of Yaffa—were erased. This is the stunning true story of how Yaffa made it her life’s mission to recover thousands of her town’s photographs from around the world. Using these photos, she built her amazing Tower of Life, a permanent exhibit in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, to restore the soaring spirit of Eishyshok.
Listen to Chana Stiefel talking with TeachingBooks about creating The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.
- Listen to author Chana Stiefel pronounce her name.
- Listen to illustrator Susan Gal pronounce her name.
- Watch a video book trailer for The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs.
- Explore TeachingBooks’ collection of activities and resources for The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs.
Invitation to Imagine
TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Chana Stiefel.
Imagination Activity with Chana Stiefel
In The Tower of Life, families in Eishyshok walk down Eternity Lane to the Old Cemetery, where elders tell stories of their ancestors: “Their stories swirled around one another, keeping their faith and traditions alive.” Interview senior family members, and record stories that are important to your family’s history. Write these collected stories in a journal. Meet with a partner in class to share one story from your journal. Discuss why you selected that particular story and any new information you may have learned from the interview process. If family members live locally, create a “living museum” in which students rotate through “exhibits” and interview each other’s family members.
Finish This Sentence . . . with Chana Stiefel
As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Chana Stiefel’s response.
“My favorite books as a child were..”
My favorite books as a child were Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey (blueberries are still my favorite food) and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. I still fantasize about sleeping over at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“I hope that my book may encourage children to think about…”
I hope that my book may encourage children to think about our shared humanity. We are all unique, but we have so much more in common than we may realize. Developing empathy is the first step toward creating a better world.
To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Chana Stiefel for signing a book for all of us.
More Connections to Chana Stiefel and The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs
- Discover books like The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs on TeachingBooks.
- Scholastic’s page about The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs, written by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Susan Gal.
- Buy The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs, written by Chana Stiefel and illustrated by Susan Gal.
All text and images are courtesy of Chana Stiefel, Susan Gal, and Scholastic, Inc. and may not be used without expressed written consent.