Price: $12.00


    Written by: Shari Dash Greenspan
    Illustrated by: Avi Katz

    Hardcover, 32 color pages, Hebrew
    Urim Publications, 2003 
    ISBN: 965-7108-58-6 

    Shemot Muzarim (Strange Names) begins as a little girl dons her coat in true 5-year-old style by flipping it over her head, waves goodbye to her parents, and skips off to kindergarten.
    On the way she tells us that nearly all of the children in her gan (kindergarten) were misnamed by their parents. The names are strange, in her opinion, because they just don't fit -- none of the names match the children's personalities! For instance, Shira ("song") doesn't like to sing and Avi ("my father") isn't anyone's father. 

    Sweet, evocative illustrations by veteran artist Avi Katz explore a full day's activities in this Israeli Gan from arrival through playtime, snack-time, drama and story-time, and witty word play in bouncy rhythm and rhyme by first time author Shari Dash Greenspan reveal the humor in these "strange names." As the kindegarteners are introduced, kids will love finding them in the accompanying illustrations, especially the one child with the perfect name, whose parents knew exactly how she'd turn out.

    About the Author:
    Shari Dash Greenspan works as the Children's Book Editor at Urim Publications and at Flashlight Press. She is responsible for selecting and editing original manuscripts, choosing and working with appropriate illustrators, and overseeing the design and layout of each book. She also translates, or oversees the translation of, acquired English language children's books into Hebrew.
    Prior to working as an editor, Shari taught English at a large elementary school in Israel, where she established and ran an English enrichment center and served as reading consultant to over 600 students. She has taught arts-and-crafts, and designed and produced props, scenery, and costumes for amateur musical theater productions (viewed by over 15,000 people) in which she also had principle acting roles. Shari also works as a storyteller in Jerusalem area libraries.
    Shari was born in Savannah, Georgia, grew up in New Jersey, studied art at Stern College and FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, and moved to Israel in 1988. Her hobbies include crossword puzzles, crafts, and singing in an a cappella choir. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Efrat.

    About the Illustrator:
    Avi Katz, Israeli artist, illustrator, and cartoonist, was born in Philadelphia, PA, USA in 1949. He began his art studies at UC Berkeley before moving to Israel in 1970, where he completed his degree at the Bezalel Academy of Art. Though best known as the artist of the Jerusalem Report since its first issue in 1990, he has also illustrated dozens of childrens' books including the prize-winning King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Princess Alopecia, and My Travels with Alex, as well as schoolbooks, book covers, and newspaper and magazine articles. He has also created comic strips, TV animation and multimedia titles and has exhibited one-man shows of his paintings and illustrations in Israel and the USA, and has participated in group shows around the world. Avi Katz lives in Ramat-Gan near Tel Aviv; he is married and has three sons.

    Click here to access the English translation of Shemot Muzarim, courtesy of 

    Praise for Shemot Muzarim:
    "The more you read, the more you smile at the absurdly funny connections between the children and their names!" 
    -Idit RozenheimPajama Stories, Voice of Israel Radio 

    "Shemot Muzarim (Strange Names) is the latest addition of Urim Publications to children's Hebrew literature. This original work by Shari Greenspan introduces the young reader to an interesting kindergarten class. The irony in this class is that the names of the students do not match their personalities. For example, Simcha is not happy, Shira doesn't sing, and Mazal has a broken arm. The text is engaging and is accompanied by excellent illustration.
    Shemot Muzarim would be a welcome addition to the Hebrew collection of Diaspora elementary Jewish day school libraries. It is also an excellent book for use in group classroom instruction, offering the following advantages:
    1) It is fun and engaging for students, even in upper elementary grades.
    2) It provides an introduction and/or reinforcement of a rich collection of modern Hebrew vocabulary.
    3) It provides a stimulus for authentic class discussion about the Hebrew names of the students and their meanings." 
    - Shmuel Peerless, Lookstein Education Digest

    "This is everything a children's book should be: exciting, colorful and easy to read.
    Little hands will be able to turn the sturdy pages and young minds will appreciate the running joke in the story.
    Set in a kindergarten classroom, this Hebrew language story is all about the humorous inconsistencies of the children names. From Israel, who was born in the Diaspora, to Adina, who is anything but gentle, author Shari Dash Greenspan uses age appropriate humor and charming text to tell her tale. Avi Katz's illustrations are clear, clever and narrative all on their own. This hard cover book is bound to be a favorite for families, schools and libraries. Urim Publications, Jerusalem, Israel, has provided an easily understood Hebrew text that's sure to win over even non-Hebrew-speaking families who share this book with their little ones.
    Neighborhood toddlers read the story three times in a row the first time they held this book. In the world of kiddie literature, there is no greater praise." 
    -Yocheved Golani, The Jewish Press (and Capital Review)

    "We took one look at this book and we fell in love with it!
    Shemot Muzarim is a cleverly written, beautifully illustrated book (in Hebrew) for children aged 4 to 84. The story is narrated by one of the children, who notes that her peers all have names that do not suit their character! Shira does not like to sing, and Zecharya is forgetful. The result is a humorous word game which you and your children can play long after you finish the pages of this book.
    This is a book for everyone. Young children will love having it read to them, early readers will enjoy reading it and adults will have a grand time reading it to their children.
    Shemot Muzarim is the story of a kindergarten where the children, as observed by the child narrator, have especially inappropriate names. Zachariah forgets his school-bag, Shira refuses to sing, Mazal is luck-less and Liraz cannot keep a secret. The book ends with a surprising punch line that will charm every reader.
    This book will get your child thinking about the meaning of names and the personalities of the people who have them. You can then initiate a delightful word game with your child, thinking of more names that do or do not apply to the bearer. What would the narrator say about your name?
    The combination of clever text and pictures makes this book a real winner. The more you look at the pictures the more you'll appreciate their subtle charm and humor.
    It is hard to target an age range on this delightful and deceptively simple children's book. We believe that this book will be appreciated by children of all ages, from 4 to 84!"  
    -Debbie Lampert,

    "Shemot Muzarim is a light, charming story in rhyme, with a delightful surprise at the end. The colorful illustrations by Avi Katz are a celebration for our eyes." 
    -Ofra Vered, HaZofe

    "Funny and charming. 
    Shari Dash Greenspan gives great thought to words and the meanings they carry. Her girl narrator (whose name we won't reveal since this is part of the point) presents her kindergarten friends and demonstrates how and why their names are inappropriate for them: Yitzchak, for example, isn't the least bit funny, Shira doesn't sing with the others, Tova doesn't do favors, Tirza isn't really willing, Binyamin writes with his left hand and Bat-Sheva is only four.
    This is a funny and charming story whose words carry is definitely worthwhile to use it for story hour with a young listener, and also as a discussion opener -- for example, what should match what: the name to the child or the child to the name, and also what are the meanings of different names? And when all of this is accompanied by enchanting illustrations (by Avi Katz) then, enjoyment is guaranteed." 
    -Tamar Nesher-Rati, Makor Rishon

    "In a delightful, new Hebrew children's book written by Shari Dash Greenspan of Efrat... illustrated with gorgeous and whimsical pictures by Avi Katz... one little girl considers her friends' names. Shemot Muzarim (Strange Names) is a sweet and funny narrative, which will make you and your children smile.... Each child's personality comes to life in vivid and lively watercolor images with the busy activities of the gan in the background.
    Shemot Muzarim is aimed towards gan-aged children (ages three to six), but children and parents of all ages will love it too. Don't be surprised if your children start trying to figure out if the names of your family members and friends fit them. Lucky for all of us that Shari has decided to share her wonderful creativity with us!
    Even if you only speak English at home and don't understand some of the words, your kids will translate for you. Reading to them in Hebrew will help them develop their vocabulary, which will make a positive difference when they get to school. Shemot Muzarim is a book that they will enjoy and be proud to own in their growing library of Hebrew books."  
    -Miriam Lock, Voices

    "For those looking to evoke children's laughter and Hebrew comprehension at the same time, Shari Dash Greenspan's first children's book, Shemot Muzarim, or "Strange Names" (2003, Urim Publications), is a good choice. If the meanings of Jewish names are to be taken literally, then shouldn't a girl named Simcha always be happy, or Shira be singing or Yitzhak be making us laugh? Entirely in Hebrew (and without translation or transliteration), Shemot Muzarim gently pokes fun at popular Hebrew names whose literal meanings do not fit (lo mat'imim) those to whom they have been given.
    Set in an Israeli kindergarten class as seen through the eyes of Yafa, the book - perfect for children 4 and older - includes colorful, pastel-like illustrations by Avi Katz, who cleverly depicts Yafa and her classmates, who do not live up to their names. Take Nadav, the boy who does not volunteer in class (l'hitnadev means to volunteer in Hebrew), or Sivan, the girl whose birthdays falls in the Jewish month of Elul, rather than the month of Sivan. Shemot Muzarim is an ideal gift for improving Hebrew skills or just bringing a smile to a child's face." 
    -Ariel Zilber, Forward

    " short, a book to which both children and parents will quickly become endeared." 
    -Rachel Schwartzboim, Zo Iri

    "At top of the list is the recently published Shemot Muzarim (Strange Names) whose prose and illustrations are indeed delightful. Told in a child's voice, the story reveals the quirky personalities of the children in a typical Israeli kindergarten along with their names, which don't always fit.
    Liraz (I have a secret) is always telling them. Shira (song) hates to sing. Ram (tall) is the shortest kid in class. And Binyamin (my right hand) writes with his left.
    The story hums along with sing-song Hebrew prose and illustrations that reveal the insides of a typical Israeli kindergarten. What's more, the illustrations showcase the wonderful diversity of Israeli society--made up of people religious and secular with skin colors ranging from chocolate brown to snowy white.
    The simple Hebrew writing, along with pictures that help facilitate understanding of the text, make this picture book an ideal one for the beginning Hebrew reader. Armed with a good Hebrew-English dictionary, even a novice Hebrew student should be able to muddle through with his or her child, and have fun along the way." 
    -Jill Suzanne Jacobs,

    "One little girl thinks her school friends' names don't suit them at all. Shira - whose name means song - doesn't like to sing, and Avi - whose name means father - isn't anyone's dad. So begins the premise of Shemot Muzarim, ("Strange Names"). The newly released Hebrew kids' book, written by Shari Dash Greenspan and illustrated by Avi Katz, explores the meanings behind Hebrew names from a child's perspective."  
    -Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

    "Just wanted to let you know about a great book I came upon. From time to time I will email you reviews and information about publications that I think you will find worthy of inclusion in your collection!
    Have you ever thought about how a name reflects the person? Shari Dash Greenspan has written a delightful book for young children that addresses exactly that. Written in Hebrew, Shemot Muzarim - Strange Names has a young kindergartener commenting on her classmates and their descriptive names - with a cute finale!
    A concise text, as well as many familiar kindergarten activities and scenes depicted in the colorful illustrations, makes this a treasure to read to youngsters." 
    - Leora Pushett, Center for Jewish Education, Baltimore, MD

    "This charmingly illustrated and colorful book is perfect for children starting out in nursery school. It tells the story of a little girl who demonstrates how the names of her fellow classmates do not, in fact, match their personalities. Sivan, for instance, is born in the month of Elul, and Yisrael was born abroad. And Mazal has no mazal whatsoever.
    This amusing tongue-in-cheek book makes witty wordplay on common Hebrew names and rhymes throughout. The illustrator also masterfully depicts a multicultural utopia, in which children of different ethnicities and from various religious and secular backgrounds play together in harmony.
    A lovely picture of what life in Israel should be, at the very least for our children."  
    -Miriam Abramowitz, Jerusalem Post

    "This book is a great read for children and olim parents. Although it's a picture book, children and adults of all ages will find the book amusing.... This book leads to getting your child to understand the meanings of modern day language with the help of the eye-pleasing illustrations.
    I highly recommend reading Shemot Muzarim. I got a nice chuckle out of it and added a few more words to my vocabulary." 
    -Caryn Meltz, ModiInfo

    "For our daughter's baby naming, a friend read an excerpt from this delightful play on names. It quips that Shira doesn't always sing, Isaac doesn't always laugh, and Nathan has a hard time sharing. The pictures depict wonderful facial expressions and real-life non-optimal preschool situations."  
    -Nina Gelman-Gans, Jewish Family Times