Featured KidLit FIVE STORIES by Ellen Weinstein

KidLit TV is honored to share:
• Creating FIVE STORIES •
Written and illustrated by Ellen Weinstein

Growing up, I would go to the library and check out a stack of books on a subject I was curious about. History and space exploration were my favorite subjects. More recently, instead of studying faraway places and outer space, I closely examined the neighborhood I have lived in most of my life and my family history.

My family has lived on the Lower East Side of New York for the past 120 years, generation after generation, and I still live there today. I am a lifelong resident and have witnessed how the neighborhood has changed and remained the same. It is a special place formed by the layering of tastes, stories, sounds, and histories of the people who have made it their home. Successive generations of immigrants and migrants have shaped its ongoing history.

A few years ago, I wanted to learn more about my grandmother and great-grandparents’ long journey from Russia by boat and about what it was like for her as a child to leave everything behind and start a new life in a strange place. I interviewed my friends and neighbors about their stories of immigration and migration, and about the stories of their grandparents and great-grandparents. I met with historians, curators, librarians, school principals, and students. Although the stories started in many different countries, I couldn’t help but notice how much they had in common.

I wanted to share with young readers what life was like if perhaps they had moved to New York from another country, or if their parents had. Although the stories I heard came from different places and eras, I couldn’t help but notice how much they had in common. In the book, I use a tenement building to share these stories as a container for them. Layers upon layers of stories and history.

Featured KidLit FIVE STORIES by Ellen Weinstein


I work in layers, combining painting and digital elements to tell a story. Old and new mediums, together, depict change and consistency. The art in this book is filled with details showing interiors and street scenes changing from decade to decade. If you look closely, you’ll notice the food carts and games children play change. Look again and see a community garden grow.

Painting the PIRAGUA vendor in FIVE STORIES
Featured KidLit FIVE STORIES by Ellen Weinstein
• A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection •

Five children, from five different cultures and in five different decades, grow up in the same building on the Lower East Side of New York City.

Jenny Epstein and her family arrive on a steamship from Russia in the 1910s. Jenny writes letters in Yiddish to her grandmother, while practicing her English in her new neighborhood. By the 1930s, when Anna Cozzi and her Italian family move into the building, Jenny has become a teacher in Anna’s school. Then José Marte moves in during the 1960s, Maria Torres in the 1980s, and Wei Yei in the Lower East Side of today.

Perfect for early elementary students, this cross section of American history celebrates the many diverse cultures that make up our nation—from the food we eat, to the ways we worship, and the families we love.

WATCH the Book Trailer for FIVE STORIES!
Book Trailer: FIVE STORIES

“[A] vibrant celebration of immigrants and the multicultural richness of New York City.”
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Tantalizing glimpses of a diverse neighborhood’s cultures and origins, with insight into
the commonality that underlies them.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Kids will love examining the illustrations to see how one city block changes and grows over decades, and adults will appreciate how Five Stories opens doors to all sorts of conversations about history, culture, and community.”
—Lit Hub

ABOUT Ellen Weinstein

Ellen Weinstein is the illustrator of the picture book Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity and the author/illustrator of Recipes for Good Luck: The Superstitions, Rituals, and Practices of Extraordinary People. As an illustrator, she is a regular contributor to Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, amongst many others.
Awards include American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts Illustration Annual, Print’s Regional Design Annual, Society of Publication Designers, Society of News Designers and the Art Directors Club.
She lectures and conducts workshops in various art schools and internationally including the AIGA, SCBWI Japan, Ilustratour in Madrid, Spain, Fig.o5 Congreso Internacional de Ilustracion in Bogota, Colombia, MFAStudy in Beijing, China, MiMaster Ilustrazione in Milan, Italy, CEDRA Education in Moscow, Russia, Associazione Culturale Teatrio in Venice, Italy, Amarillo Design Space in Xalapa, Mexico and at ICON6 The Illustration Conference. Seven pieces of Ellen’s work are in the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress.
Ellen is a third-generation resident of New York’s Lower East Side, where she lives with her husband and mini-dachshund, Fritzie.

Connect with Ellen Weinstein
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(Music Credit: Free Music archive-Chopin Prelude No. 8 by Gregor Quendel)

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One Comment

Kid Lit TV Commenter Muriel Feldshuh

Good Morning,
CONGRATULATIONS Ellen on a wonderful Picture Book! It really resonated with me as members of my family settled on the Lower East Side and so many places mentioned in the book are places I am familiar with. You connected the stories through the decades with different ethnic groups and did a wonderful job! I also enjoyed the illustrations.
My parents moved to the Williamsburg and that is where I was raised and went to school however, we always took trips over the bridge back to Orchard St. I taught in Williamsburg for many years in the school that I attended as a youngster and after several years in the classroom I was assigned to the School Library and created an environment I was proud of for almost thirty years. Your book would have been a great addition to that Library. I always tried to follow-up with creative activities for children after reading a story and your book certainly can have many interesting follow-ups.
I received a signed copy from Books of Wonder and proudly added it to my home library as I collect first editions. Thanks to KidLit for bringing this wonderful book to our attention!
Wishing you all the best,


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