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The night sky lined with silver

John Conway
Posted 3/22/24

Back in 2005, author Yvonne David set her first children’s book, “Out of the Apple Orchard” in the hamlet of Mountaindale in 1910. The book told the story of a young boy named Adam …

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The night sky lined with silver


Back in 2005, author Yvonne David set her first children’s book, “Out of the Apple Orchard” in the hamlet of Mountaindale in 1910. The book told the story of a young boy named Adam Bieman and his family, who were newly transplanted to the tiny Sullivan County hamlet from the Lower East Side of New York City. Through Adam’s adventures in his new home, in particular his sampling of an apple from his neighbor’s orchard without permission, the book explored themes of forgiveness and making amends against the backdrop of the emerging Jewish presence in the Sullivan County Catskills of the early 20th century.

“Out of the Apple Orchard,” which was beautifully illustrated by David’s sister, Lyn Rodden, was such a success that it was later adapted into an off-Broadway stage production, introducing new generations to the illustrious history of “the Mountains.”

Now, nearly 20 years later, Yvonne David has teamed up with the talented illustrator Robert Sauber for a follow up book, “The Night Sky Lined with Silver.” This new story again features the Bieman family, and is set in the hamlet of Mountaindale, but the book fast forwards to 1938, as the world is plummeting toward war, and the country is mired in the depths of the Great Depression. Adam Bieman, the child star of the first book, is now the town physician in Mountaindale, raising a family of his own.

While Adam is part of this story, too, the new book focuses mainly on his son, Eliot, who along with his sister Abbie, must rise to the occasion when an elderly neighbor goes missing during a terrible snowstorm.

The children’s perseverance in overcoming great obstacles in the search for their neighbor is portrayed in the context of Hanukkah and the miracle of the lights, making it even more poignant than it might otherwise be. And, as a result of the incident, family histories are revealed that take the story to an entirely different level. Throughout, there is the backdrop of Sullivan County and its burgeoning resort industry, which is poised to embark on its Golden Age.

As the book jacket notes, “this charming American tale references the winter hotel business in the Catskill Mountains, and captures the essence of Hanukkah, a story of miracles and survival.”

As rich as the story is, it is Sauber’s incredibly nuanced illustrations that make it so much more so, as he makes Mountaindale and the Sullivan County countryside come alive. Viewing his depictions of this earlier era transports the reader to that very time and place, making them a part of the story itself.

“The Night Sky Lined with Silver” ends happily, and in celebration of that happy ending, Eliot talks his family into traveling to South Fallsburg to go tobogganing at the Flagler Hotel, which in 1938 was pioneering the concept of a Sullivan County resort staying open year around and offering their guests a variety of winter sports, including a toboggan run. And again, it is a beautifully done Sauber illustration, this one taken from a well-known photo of the Flagler, that takes the reader back to the time and place of the story.

Eric Kimmel, winner of multiple National Jewish Book Awards for Children and Young Adult Literature, wrote that the children in the new book “inspire us to find our inner courage.”

“The winter storm sweeping through the Catskill Mountains in 1938 mirrors the political storms sweeping through the world, forcing the Bieman family to struggle against each,” Kimmel wrote for the book’s cover. “The story reminds us of Hanukkah miracles and how gifted light in the darkest times can shine through.”

Award winning author Joanie Holzer Schirm calls the book “a timeless story of the importance of enduring faith, hope, and love of family. ‘The Night Sky Lined with Silver’ magically showcases humanity at its best…[and] honors the vital part the Catskill Mountains played in Jewish American history…”

“The Night Sky Lined with Silver” by Yvonne David with illustrations by Robert Sauber, is a terrific book for readers aged nine and older. It is a hardcover, and is available from the publisher, Eden Grove, at www.AppleTreeSeries.com and from online booksellers.

John Conway is the Sullivan County Historian and a founder and president of The Delaware Company. Email him at jconway52@hotmail.com.  


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