Sometimes homework is fun. Sometimes it even morphs into something bigger and more exciting.
For sixth-grader Yardena Stelzer, the assignment to rewrite a fairy tale from another character’s perspective yielded first a story and then ““ with the help of her family – a book and a bat mitzvah project.
According to her mother, Dalia Stelzer, the 12-year-old Teaneck resident and student at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey always has been both creative and funny.
“Yardena loves to draw,” Dalia Stelzer said. Her daughter also loves writing, so creating and illustrating the fairy tale “came naturally to her.”
|Yardena Stelzer Courtesy the Stelzer family|
“I like comedy,” Yardena said. “If I have to write something and it’s not funny, then it’s not good.”
So charmed were her parents by Yardena’s fractured fairy tale – she retold “The Three Bears” from Goldilocks’ perspective, intertwining it ultimately with “Little Red Riding Hood” – that they underwrote the printing of 100 copies. The book, “Goldilocks’ Diary,” is now being offered for sale, and the proceeds will be used to help their daughter’s Israeli “twin,” a student at AMIT’s Kiryat Malachi school, as well as other disadvantaged children served by the organization.
At her bat mitzvah, which will take place in August at the AMIT school, Yardena will celebrate with her new Israeli friend, Aviya.
AMIT, founded in 1925, operates 98 schools, youth villages, surrogate family residences, and other programs. The goal of the group, says its website, is to “enable Israel’s youth to realize their potential and strengthen Israeli society by educating and nurturing children from diverse backgrounds within a framework of academic excellence, Jewish values, and Zionist ideals.”
“We were planning to go to Israel [for her bat mitzvah] because we wanted to celebrate it there. We chose a twinning project so she would have a tangible bat mitzvah experience, not just giving money but making a connection,” Stelzer said.
Since Yardena’s book “was so clever and adorable,” the family decided to share it with others, at the same time tying it into the bat mitzvah experience.
The comedic Goldilocks rewrite has the heroine entering the bears’ home looking for a bathroom. As startled by the bears as they are by her, she realizes that to get to her grandmother’s house (her original errand) she must pass through the fairy tale kingdom.
Her conclusion: “Grandmas who live where the only way for your grandkids to get to your house is through the fairy-tale kingdom – MOVE!”
And, said her mom, she even paved the way for a sequel, writing that she would leave for another time the tale told by Red Riding Hood when she returned from delivering the ill-fated basket to their grandmother.
“I was hoping my sister would do that for her bat mitzvah,” Yardena said. “But if not, I hope to do it myself.”
According to Stelzer, Yardena’s book already has brought in some $1,500.
“We’re asking for an $18 donation, but some people have given more,” she said, adding that each book cost the family $9 to print but that the full $18 received per copy would be donated to AMIT.
“We posted it on Teaneckshuls, sent a card with information about it together with invitations to the bat mitzvah, and I emailed all my friends,” she said, describing efforts made to publicize the project . “A lot of people have bought it.”
Producing the book was not always easy, said the youngster.
“It was really kind of hard. After school I wanted to flop down on the couch, but my mom helped motivate me.”
Still, she has already begun to reap the dividends. When she brought a copy of her printed book to Yeshivat Noam to show her former kindergarten teacher, “The teacher was so excited that she had Yardena read it to the kindergarteners,” Stelzer said. “She really enjoyed it.”
The sixth-grader is no stranger to reading stories out loud. As the oldest of four children, she often reads books to her siblings.
“I really like reading to everybody ““ I feel like a real author,” she said, adding that she would welcome the opportunity to read her book to more children.
More information about Yardena’s book is at http://amitchildren.org/yardena.