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Seif Simpson

Martha Seif Simpson — Life and Work
This site includes Martha Seif Simpson’s biography, photos, and more.
Martha Seif Simpson
Martha  Seif Simpson
Detailed Information on Martha Seif Simpson
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Biography of Martha Seif Simpson

Martha Seif Simpson’s first book with World Wisdom (through our children’s books imprint, Wisdom Tales Press) was The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah (2014). The story is a charming account of a toyshop owner who witnesses a bit of a miracle in his store and through it comes to appreciate the true meaning of Hanukkah. The story is set in an Eastern European city in the early twentieth century, and features beautiful images of that time and place by award-winning illustrator Durga Yael Bernhard.

Ms. Simpson’s second book for Wisdom Tales continues looking into the daily — but unusual! — life of the toyshop keeper. This one, Esther’s Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim (2018), focuses on the Jewish festival of Purim. D. Yael Bernhard is back, too, adding her award-winning illustrations to the book. The lively cast of characters quibble and carouse in a bygone world of warmth, surprise, heroism, and generosity. The book’s playful language and illustrations hint at ancient roots and hidden meanings which are just waiting for young readers to discover. This is a tale ideal for reading aloud for fun, but also for learning. Both Wisdom Tales books written by Simpson have won awards.

Martha Seif Simpson is also very active in her professional work as a librarian, including her work on such books as Bringing Classes into the Public Library: A Handbook for Librarians (along with Lucretia I. Duwel) and Summer Reading Clubs: Complete Plans for 50 Theme-Based Library Programs.

For the dedication to her story, The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin, Martha wrote “To my relatives with roots in the Old Country.” The story of her family is in many ways like those of countless Americans whose roots are in other countries but whose ancestors came to the United states as immigrants. Martha’s father, Sam Seif, was born and raised in Poland before World War II. He, like many others, was in a variety of labor camps until the end of the war, but he managed to survive. Most of his family did not survive. Sam Seif was able to be reunited with a sister and two brothers in Poland after the war. The sister and one brother moved to Israel when it first became a country. The other brother came to America with Martha’s father, who remained in contact with his family in Israel until he died in 2010.

Martha Seif Simpson’s grandparents, on her mother’s side, were born in the USSR and came to America before World War I. After Martha’s grandparents emigrated to America from Russia, they met and lived in Dorchester, MA where her grandfather had a grocery store. He had various other jobs before that, including selling from a pushcart. (Observant readers will see a pushcart in The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin!) Martha notes that her own mother undoubtedly learned how to run a small family store from her father — Martha’s grandfather. All of this background, both her own and that of her ancestors, inform the atmospheric tale she has created for her Wisdom Tales book.

There is much more information about Martha, and her influences, on the Martha Seif Simpson author page on the Wisdom Tales Press website.

Books/DVDs containing the work of Martha Seif Simpson

Books by Martha Seif Simpson for Wisdom Tales Press (an imprint of World Wisdom):

  • Esther’s Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim (written by Martha Seif Simpson and illustrated by D. Yael Bernhard)
    • Gold Medal in the “Children’s Fiction” category of the 2020 Midwest Book Awards
    • Silver Medal in the “Children’s Picture Books” category of the 2020 Midwest Book Awards
  • The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah (written by Martha Seif Simpson and illustrated by D. Yael Bernhard)
    • Award-Winning Finalist in the “Children's Religious” category of the 2015 USA “Best Book” Awards
    • Finalist in the 2015 Benjamin Frankin Awards in the category “Interior Design (3 or more Color; Children’s/Young Adult)”

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