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Marilyn Hirsh

Marilyn Hirch brought her knowledge as an art historian and Jewish scholar to her thoughtful illustration and writing of children’s books, including the beloved K’tonton series. Hirsh graduated from the Carnegie Mellon Institute with a degree in fine art in 1965 and joined the Peace Corps that year, serving in India, where she taught English and art and illustrated four children’s books for the Children’s Book Trust in New Delhi. After returning to the US in 1967 she earned a master’s from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1974 and taught Indian and Buddhist art history at Cooper Union and NYU. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s she wrote and illustrated a variety of children’s books, often drawing on her Jewish heritage and researching different eras to depict them accurately, from the ancient world of Tower of Babel to the crusader-era Spain of Butchers and Bakers, Rabbis and Kings and the Hellenistic Hanukkah Story. But she was best known for her collaboration with writer Sadie Rose Weilerstein on the K’tonton books, following a Jewish Tom Thumb character through various adventures. In 1980, she won the Association of Jewish Libraries’ prestigious Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award.

Hirsch, Marilyn - still image [media]
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"K’tonton existed only on the pages of a book, but I saw him clearly—more clearly—than I saw the teacher." These are the words of author Francine Klagsbrun in her introduction to The Best of K’tonton, one of the thirty children’s books, primarily of Jewish interest, illustrated by Marilyn Hirsh. Here, Hirsh has illustrated three of little K'tonton's "big adventures"&hellpi; 1) riding on a chopping knife (narrowly escaping from being made into gefilte fish); 2) spinning on a runaway Hannukah dreidel [top]; 3) reading the Megillah after "masquerading" inside a hamantash [Purim pastry].

Institution: Women's League for Conservative Judaism

Date of Birth
January 1, 1944
Place of Birth
Chicago, Illinois
Date of Death
October 17, 1988

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Marilyn Hirsh." (Viewed on November 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/hirsh-marilyn>.

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