When she was eight years old, Sydelle Pearl developed such a fascination for
Helen Keller that one day she sat down and wrote her impressions of the blind
and deaf girl. That same year, Pearl began writing poetry, a novel, and a
one-act play called Lesson with the Ghost. Pearl, who lives in Brookline,
Massachusetts, is now a professional storyteller making appearances at schools
for children and adults alike.
Pearl remembers many adults in her life who encouraged her to continue
writing. Her mother, a playwright, kept many books that focused on social
issues, while her father was an avid reader of books on politics and history.
Pearl finds an inextricable relationship in telling, writing, listening, and
reading, as she has “always loved and been sensitive to the sound and rhythm of
words.” A writer of folk songs for adults and children, she is also fond of
incorporating songs into her stories.
On one occasion, Pearl was asked to tell stories at a local Hebrew school.
Unable to find material to her liking, she decided to write her own stories
instead. “Somehow,” she recalls, “they all had something to do with the prophet
Elijah.” After finishing these stories, Pearl decided to make a tape of them,
which eventually became her book Elijah's Tears: Stories for the Jewish
Holidays. The book was named an ABA Pick of the List title and a
Storytelling World Honor Award Honoree in 1997 and was highlighted on the Best
Books for 1998 by the Children's Book Committee at the Bank Street College of
Education in New York City.
Pearl's newest title, Books for Children of the World, is the
biography of Jella Lepman, the U.S. Army's cultural and educational advisor to
the women and children of post-World War II Germany. Lepman was responsible for
creating the International Exhibition of Children's Books and also worked with
the Rockefeller Foundation to build a full library in Munich, Germany.
Sydelle Pearl received her master's degree in library science from Simmons
College in Boston, Massachusetts.