A discussion at a farmer’s market led to a Miami children’s author’s book about tolerance


Retired Holocaust teacher Ruth Gordon will talk about her new children’s book at Get Smart on August 14. “Inside Out Outside In” tells the importance of tolerance and kindness through botanical metaphors.

Russ Gordon

Miami natives and lifelong friends, Ruth Gordon and Billie Bernstein were talking at a local farmer’s market when a book idea came up. Their discussion focused on fruits and vegetables that grow in a variety of colors.

“They may look different on the outside, but they’re much the same on the inside, just like people who deserve to be accepted and treated with kindness and respect,” Gordon said.

“I had the concept for this book in mind for 20 years after shopping at Norman Brothers with my friend Billie. I wasn’t sure how to develop what I thought. Over the years I became an instructor of the Holocaust teaching the Holocaust at all levels from K-12 in Miami-Dade County schools.

Today, retired after 35 years, Gordon has written his book.

“Inside Out Outside In,” with its timeless lessons of tolerance and kindness, is beautifully illustrated by Barbara Zohlman. It is published by Fulton Books.

“I wrote the initial story in about 30 minutes and then worked on it for a year. I knew I needed the right illustrator who would bring my fruits and vegetables to life and give them character. I I asked Barbara, a friend of over 30 years, if she would be interested in illustrating this book. She didn’t even hesitate. She said yes!

“It became our COVID project. We were working on his terrace, 12 feet away, with masks and gloves. Various family members provided input along the way, and Barbara and I listened to everyone to make sure our messages of acceptance, kindness, and diversity were clear and visually adorable. This is how our book was developed!

Also a Miami native and former teacher, Zohlman was co-founder of the Miami Children’s Museum and former executive director of Drug Free Youth In Town.

Gordon, founding executive producer of Holocaust Impact Theatre, said that “teachers would often call me and ask if I knew of a good book that taught tolerance, acceptance and diversity to young children in kindergarten through 2nd grade. .

“This book teaches a lesson about the unique differences of humanity and how this diversity should not prevent children from accepting and building relationships with everyone, no matter who they are.”

“Inside Out Outside In” was selected as a finalist in the Community Change Maker category for ADL Florida’s No Place for Hate Day 2022. It is available on Get Smart, Books & Books, Barnes & Noble and online.

She’ll be on Get Smart, 10-11:30 a.m., August 14, with Anita Meyer Meinbach, who wrote “What Luck!” with David Meinbach. This book, about determination, resilience and an assortment of a child’s good luck charms, is wonderfully illustrated by Nancy Simons Sica. Get Smart is at 8824 SW 131st St. Phone 305-255-2882. Refreshments will be served.

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Alison Thompson, a global humanitarian volunteer and author, is the keynote speaker at this year’s Mango Writers Conference on August 20, hosted by the South Florida Writers Association. Provided by SFWA

Learn, network at the Mango Writers Conference

“Writing in the 2020s and Beyond” is the theme of the 12th Annual Mango Writers Conference hosted by the South Florida Writers Association, 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., August 20 at the Hilton Miami Dadeland Hotel, 9100 N. Kendall Dr.

Writers from all genres of fiction, non-fiction and poetry will have the opportunity to meet and network with local published authors and industry experts.

This year’s keynote speaker is Alison Thompson, global humanitarian volunteer and author. Other guest speakers include author and publisher Bethe Moulton, intellectual property lawyer Elio Martinez, ad agency owner Anita Hoffman and author Seth Bramson.

“We are thrilled to bring together such a dynamic group of speakers for this year’s Mango Writers Conference,” said Ricki Dorn, SFWA Conference Director. “There’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a new writer working on your first manuscript or a seasoned writing professional, you’ll be inspired by this gathering of like-minded experts.

Dorn said the format will be one-on-one presentations with question-and-answer sessions. Keynote speaker Thompson is a full-time humanitarian volunteer who runs refugee camps, field hospitals and resilience centers during the biggest natural and man-made disasters in the country and around the world, including in Ukraine.

She volunteered at Ground Zero and founded Third Wave Volunteers on September 11, 2001. The group has grown to include over 30,000 medical and non-medical volunteers. Thompson’s book “The Third Wave: A Volunteer Story” from Random House is also a documentary film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival by Sean Penn and Bono.

The cost of the conference is $60 for SFWA members and $70 for non-members. There will be a catered lunch with a vegan option, music, networking, book sales and raffle prizes. Free parking. Register by August 16 at www.southfloridawriters.org.

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Becky Franco will present an artist talk on August 14 on her paintings in the Stone House at the Deering Estate. Provided by Becky Franco

Famous Art Deering Estate Stone House

To honor the beloved Stone House’s centennial at the Deering Estate, Miami artists Becky Franco and Monia Meluzzi have created works that explore the structure as “an architectural and historical beacon of South Florida.” Their exhibits will be on display until August 31.

Franco, who was awarded a 2019-2020 artist residency, will talk about his suite of paintings titled “Observed,” from 1 to 3 p.m., August 14, at the Deering Estate, 16701 SW 72nd Ave. Curator Melissa Diaz will join Franco at the artist talk.

During Franco’s residency, she said she spent time reflecting on the interior spaces of the Great Hall that once housed masterpieces from Charles Deering’s collection. His paintings relate to this period. The historic museum houses are open for self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance gates close at 4 p.m. Learn more at https://deeringestate.org/stone-house-100th-anniversary/

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