Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 23, 2021


Nancy Churnin’s picture book A QUEEN TO THE RESCUE, THE STORY OF HENRIETTA SZOLD, FOUNDER OF HADASSAH, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg and published by Creston Books/Lerner Books is coming out on October 5th.

Nancy has agreed to share a book with one lucky winner in the U.S. mailing territory. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Nancy and Yevgenia.


Henrietta Szold took Queen Esther as a model and worked hard to save the Jewish people. In 1912, she founded the Jewish women’s social justice organization, Hadassah. Henrietta started Hadassah determined to offer emergency medical care to mothers and children in Palestine. When WWII broke out, she rescued Jewish children from the Holocaust, and broadened Hadassah’s mission to include education, youth development, and women’s rights. Hadassah offers free help to all who need it and continues its mission to this day.


My book journey with A Queen to the Rescue began with an opportunity.

In 2019, PJ Library, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, dedicated to providing Jewish-themed books to Jewish children for free, accepted my application to work on a new manuscript in an all-expense paid week-long TENT program at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts with amazing kidlit creators, educators, and editors.

I was thrilled!

But what should I work on? A Jewish subject, of course – but who should it be? I thought about the books I would have liked to read as a child. That got me thinking about how few books there were about women who did great things. I didn’t want to do a book about a Jewish woman that already had books written about her. And then, suddenly, maybe because my sister, Sharon Churnin Nash and I are lifetime members of Hadassah, I started thinking about Henrietta Szold, who founded that charity in 1912, with the mission of providing healthcare, food, and assistance to all residents of all faiths in Palestine.

Were there any picture books about Henrietta? No. And then I found she hadn’t written an autobiography either. That was unusual. There were some longer biographies about her and lots of news articles. A picture started to emerge of a woman who was concerned about doing tikkun olam – the Hebrew expression for healing the world – but with no interest in her own fame or fortune. Henrietta didn’t feel the need to get credit or acclaim for founding the first night school in America so that immigrants could learn the language and customs they needed to succeed in their new country or for becoming the first and for a long time only editor of the Jewish Publication Society, bringing books of Jewish interest into the world. No, she was just the kind of person who came up with solutions to problems that usually involved creating organizations that could ultimately exist on their own without her.

I was amazed to learn that Henrietta did so much good even before she founded Hadassah, the first charity founded and run by women. But Henrietta’s list of accomplishments led to another problem – too much information. How could I cram so much information into a picture book and keep a young reader’s attention?  I had my aha! moment when I realized Hadassah is the Hebrew name for Esther and that Esther was the Biblical Queen that Henrietta admired for speaking up and risking her life to save her people.

Now, armed with that connection, the pieces began to adhere to a kid-friendly theme.  Every year, Jewish children celebrate Queen Esther’s story at festive Purim events where they dress in costumes, eat hamentashen – a delicious cookie – and shake groggers – noisemakers. I began the story with a young Henrietta during Purim, wishing that she, too, could one day save her people as Queen Esther had.

I was very lucky that editor Marissa Moss at Creston Books secured Yevgenia Nayberg to do the illustrations. From the opening page, she captures an image of the young Henrietta thinking – always thinking! – while her sisters are laughing and shaking their groggers. She shows the determination of the young woman as she grows older and puts her plans in action, founding Hadassah and saving her people – and all others in need — through providing health care, food, and programs in what was then Palestine.

When Henrietta was in her seventies and thinking of retirement, she learned about Jewish children at risk in Nazi Germany. Like Queen Esther who speaks up to a powerful and dangerous king, Henrietta booked a trip on a ship to Berlin. She begged children’s parents for permission for them to come to Palestine where she would care for them. She pled with people in power for visas for the children.

How did she pay for the boat passage, for the housing, for the schooling, for the food for these children? The women of Hadassah, the charity founded by Henrietta, worked tirelessly by her side raising funds to save and care for the children. Henrietta may have been an unstoppable force in coming up with ways to make things better. But her true brilliance and greatness lay in her ability to organize and inspire others to work together to do good things.

Henrietta saved 11,000 children with the help of Hadassah. She checked up on those children regularly to make sure they had what they needed to pursue their dreams.

Henrietta and Hadassah, the organization she named for the queen she admired, saved their people just as Queen Esther had. I knew from my research how important it was to Henrietta to also save the children’s spirits and fill their lives with laughter and hope. She danced the hora – a Jewish circle dance – with the children on their first night in their new country– with a joy that Yevgenia Nayberg captures on one of my favorite pages. Henrietta loved seeing the children celebrate Purim, too. Because Henrietta had the courage to speak up and take action as Queen Esther had in her day, now children had this holiday of laughter and play.

Henrietta never married or had children of her own, but she is honored as the Mother of Israel. I began and ended the story with Purim to show how Henrietta lives on as an inspiration to a new generation as they ask themselves what they can do to be like Queen Esther today.

I am very grateful to PJ Library and the Yiddish Book Center for their support and encouragement as I worked on this book. Like Henrietta, they’ve set up organizations that encourage others to do their part to help heal the world. I have tried to do that by sharing Henrietta’s inspirational story and by creating a project called Heal the World, where I am asking kids to share photos and captions of ways in which they have helped others because every time we help others, we help heal the world. With parental permission, these good deeds will be posted on my website on my Heal the World page:

You will find out more about the holiday and what it meant to Henrietta in the back matter. And, as with all my books, you’ll find free teacher guides and resources on my website.


Nancy is an author of seven books. She is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Harvard University, with a master’s from Columbia University. She loves hanging out with friends and fellow children’s book authors as a member of the Ink Think Tank, the Nonfiction Ninjas on, the Nonfiction Chicks organizing the annual and the Book Meshuggenahs, organizing annual Chai-ku and Be a Shamash contests.

Nancy is proud to be a Writing Barn instructor, a member of the Texas Library Association, 12X12 and Rate Your Story, and the PALS coordinator for the North Texas chapter of SCBWI. She enjoys virtual and in person Author Visits. Book her through Authors and More, or on her Contact Page.

She is represented by Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary

Nancy Churnin is the author of THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME (Albert Whitman), on the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids and Bank Street College Best Children’s Books list, the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2X2 and Topaz lists, 2017-2018 Kennebec Valley Book Award Books, the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Association’s Monarch Award Master List, Connecticut’s 2018 Charter Oak Children’s Book Awards list, the 2018-2019 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice awards and the 2017-2018 Armadillo Readers’ Choice Awards list.

MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN, on the 2021 Sakura Medal shortlist, 2020 Greenwich Reads Together Elementary School Selection, winner of the 2019 Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award and 2018 South Asia Book Award, a 2018 Children and Teen’s Choice Book Awards finalist, a 2017 Junior Library Guild selection, a Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2018, a Silver Eureka Award-winner, a Little Free Libraries/Children’s Book Council Pick for the Action Book Club and Ezra Jack Keats Award finalist and on the Wisconsin School Library Association’s Picture This list.

CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF is a Silver Eureka Award-winner, on the Wisconsin School Library Association’s Picture This list and a Ruby Bridges Reading Festival selection at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, featured at International Literacy Association’s Children Literacy Day in Austin.

IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING is a 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book and 2019 Social Studies Notable Trade Book for Children. It was featured in the 2018 GREAT BOOKS FOR KIDS by Elizabeth Bird and the Evanston Public Library, in the 31 DAYS, 31 LISTS: 2018 UNIQUE BIOGRAPHIES by Elizabeth Bird and School Library Journal, in the 31 DAYS, 31 LISTS: 2018 NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS by Elizabeth Bird and School Library Journal; THE BEST JEWISH CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2018 by Marjorie Ingall and Tablet Magazine; the 7 BEST JEWISH BOOKS FOR KIDS by The Children’s Book Review and RONNIE’S AWESOME LIST OF BOOKS that teach about social justice and activism.


MARTIN & ANNE, THE KINDRED SPIRITS OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND ANNE FRANK, a 2020 Books for a Global Society Notable from the International Literacy Association; on the 2020 New York City Department of Education Civics for All list; a 2020 Wisconsin State Reading Association Picture This! pick; a 2020 Wassmuth Center for Human Rights pick; selected for the 2020 Social Justice and Children’s Literature list of The Pirate Tree, a collective of children’s and young adult writers interested in children’s literature and social justice issues; presented at the NYC School Librarians annual conference in NYC and the Museum of Tolerance in LA; on the 2020 PJ Library’s Jewish Books to Read in Honor of MLK Jr. Day; a 2019 March Book Buzz pick for the eMissourian, Children’s Book Council’s Hot Off the Press list and Ruby Bridges Reading Festival selection; 2019 featured book at Tulisoma South Dallas Book Fair at African American Museum in Fair Park, Dallas; a 2019 pick for the Brave Bookshelf, a list of books that build moral courage in children, by ParentMap; a Civil Rights and Race reading list selection by the Jewish Book Council.

BEAUTIFUL SHADES OF BROWN, THE ART OF LAURA WHEELER WARING, released Feb. 4, 2020, a Silver Eureka honoree from The California Reading Association, A Mighty Girl pick on the Mighty Girl 2020 Summer Reading List, a Civic Nebraska selection.

On April 1, 2020: FOR SPACIOUS SKIES, KATHERINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR ‘AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL’ A Mighty Girl pick on the Mighty Girl 2020 Summer Reading List.

In Fall 2021: A QUEEN TO THE RESCUE, THE STORY OF HENRIETTA SZOLD, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg, published by Creston Books/Lerner Books

In Fall 2021: DEAR MR DICKENS, illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe, published by Albert Whitman

She lives in North Texas with her husband, a dog named Dog and two cantankerous cats.


A Queen to the Rescue:

Facebook: Nancy Churnin Children’s Books

Facebook: Nancy Churnin

On Twitter: @nchurnin

On Instagram: @nchurnin



Yevgenia Nayberg is an illustrator, painter, and set and costume designer. Her illustrations have appeared in magazines and picture books, and on theatre posters, music albums, and book covers; her paintings, drawings, and illustrations are held in private collections worldwide. As a set and costume designer, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts/TCG Fellowship for Theatre Designers, the Independent Theatre Award and the Arlin Meyer Award. In 2018 she received a Sydney Taylor Silver Medal for her illustrations for Drop by Drop by Jaqueline Jules. Her debut author/illustrator picture book, Anya’s Secret Society, came out in 2019 and received a Junior Library Guild Selection Award.

Yevgenia Nayberg was born in Kiev, Ukraine. After graduating from The National School of Art in Kiev, she began working as a freelance illustrator and an assistant art director for, UkranimaFilm, an animation studio. Yevgenia moved to the United States in 1994, where she studied theatre design at Carnegie Mellon University. At the age of 23 she received her MFA degree in Theatre design from California State University, Long Beach. She has since enjoyed a successful career as a painter, scenic – costume designer, and illustrator. Yevgenia’s dedication to theatrical arts is clearly manifested in her illustrations which rely on color intensity, fantastic landscapes, and dramatic light and shadow to tell a story. When illustrating, she likes to look for a visual equivalent of a word, for metaphorical translation into the language of visual art.

Nancy, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I always love reading your book journeys. I also always love Yevgenia’s illustrations. I’m a big fan of her art. The illustrations look like they are perfect for your book. You did it again by providing us a well written, well researched, interesting book about a strong woman who made a big difference in our world. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. My grandmother and mom were in Hadassah and I remember giving money on special holidays, including Purim but didn’t realize the connection to Esther. Congratulations to Nancy and Yevgenia on this amazing book. I’m excited to see this collaboration since I’m a big fan of Martin and Anne!
    Sharing on Twitter and I am a subscriber.


  2. Congrats, Nancy and Yevgenia! I can’t wait to read this book. (I’m signed up for the emails, too.)


  3. Congratulations, Nancy! I love the story of Queen Esther and I didn’t know about this organization. I look forward to reading your book and learning about this special organization and woman who founded it. I posted on Twitter.


  4. Congrats to Nancy and Yevgenia! As I seem to be saying a lot lately, I love all of Nancy’s books, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one! Thanks for sharing! I subscribe to the blog and am sharing.


  5. The illustrations in this book are stunning. I look forward to reading this book about Henrietta Szold and the beginnings of Hadassah.


  6. This is a great looking book and filled with important history for kids to learn too. I’d love to have a copy. Thanks.
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, Happy Autumn everyone!!


  7. Cannot wait to read & review this new picture book biography. I’ll be sharing this post on twitter & I am a blog subscriber!


  8. I always love hearing the story behind the story – and Nancy’s post provides a workshop-like opportunity to learn how to find the heart of your story and weave it throughout each page! And Yevgenia’s art is luminous…I’m such a huge fan! Thank you, Kathy, for hosting them and this amazing new book!!!


  9. I have read and enjoyed several of Nancy’s previous books, many of which are already in my class library. I can only imagine that this book will be just as wonderful. I look forward to reading and sharing it with my students.
    * I retweeted about this giveaway on Twitter.


  10. Another stunning addition to the nonfiction world. Brava Nancy and Yevgenia ❤️


  11. Wonderful! I can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for sharing!

    I follow by email and I tweeted this post, Kathy.


  12. Nancy, I can’t wait to read your book. It is everything I am about or hope to be. I love Jewish heroine books, and hope to write some of my own.


  13. I can’t wait to read your latest bio Nancy! What an inspiring life you shared!


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