Miriam Yalan-Shteklis
Miriam Yalan-Shteklis (born 21 September 1900; died 9 May 1984) was an Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i writer and poet famous for her children's books. Her surname, Yalan, was an acronym based on her father’s name, Yehuda Leib Nissan.


Yalan-Shteklis was born Miriam Vilensky in 1900 in the town of Potoki, near Kremenchuk
Kremenchuk is an important industrial city in the Poltava Oblast of central Ukraine. Serving as the administrative center of the Kremenchutskyi Raion , the city itself is also designated as a separate raion within the oblast, and is located on the banks of Dnieper River.-History:Kremenchuk was...

, Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. She was the daughter of Hoda (Hadassah) and Yehuda Leib Nissan Vilensky, a Zionist leader descended from a long line of rabbis, and learned Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 as a child.

After the failed Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

, the family moved from place to place: Berlin, Minsk
- Ecological situation :The ecological situation is monitored by Republican Center of Radioactive and Environmental Control .During 2003–2008 the overall weight of contaminants increased from 186,000 to 247,400 tons. The change of gas as industrial fuel to mazut for financial reasons has worsened...

, Petrograd, and finally Kharkov. In 1912, when she was 12, her brother Mulya (Shmuel) was sent to Palestine to study at the Herzliya Hebrew High School
Herzliya Hebrew High School
The Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium , originally known as HaGymnasia HaIvrit is a historic high school in Tel Aviv, Israel.-History:...

. Yalan-Shteklis attended high school in Minsk and Petrograd, and studied psychology and social sciences at the University of Kharkov. She also pursued Judaic studies at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums
Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums
The Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, or Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, was a rabbinical seminary, established in Berlin in 1872 destroyed by the Nazi government of Germany in 1942...

 in Berlin.

In 1920, she immigrated to Palestine and settled in the Rehavia
Rehavia is an upscale Jerusalem neighborhood located between the city center and Talbiya.-History:Rehavia was established on a large plot of land purchased in 1921 from the Greek Orthodox Church by the Palestine Land Development Company . The area was known at the time as Ginzaria, a native...

 neighborhood in Jerusalem. In 1928, she went to Paris to study library science
Library science
Library science is an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary field that applies the practices, perspectives, and tools of management, information technology, education, and other areas to libraries; the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information resources; and the...

. From 1929, she joined the staff of the Jewish National University Library at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

. She headed the Slavic department for 30 years. In 1929, she married Moshe Shtekelis, a professor of archaeology. She died in Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

 on May 9, 1984, at the age of 84.

Literary career

Yalan-Shteklis published her first poem in Hebrew, aimed at adult readers, in 1922. In 1933, she turned to writing poems and stories for children, and published her work in the children’s weekly Davar Leyeladim. The pain of losing her mother at the age of 16 permeates many of her poems.

She had no children of her own, but displayed an unusual gift for writing for the young and became Israel's leading children's poet. She used to say that "poems emanate from the suffering soul and like children, they are born in suffering." She challenged one of the central conventions of modern children’s literature — the "happy ending". She portrayed happy children at play, but also their anger and pain, often pointing an accusing finger at adults. An example is her famous poem Levadi (All alone), written in 1957.

In addition to poetry, Yalan-Shtelis translated children’s literature into Hebrew from Russian, English, German and Dutch, as well as works by Samuel Marshak, Erich Kastner
Erich Kästner
Emil Erich Kästner was a German author, poet, screenwriter and satirist, known for his humorous, socially astute poetry and children's literature.-Dresden 1899–1919:...

, Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

, P. L. Travers
P. L. Travers
Pamela Lyndon Travers OBE was an Australian novelist, actress and journalist, popularly remembered for her series of children's novels about the mystical and magical nanny Mary Poppins...

, and others.

Literary themes and style

Yalan-Shteklis' work is permeated with positive educational values but avoids the trap of didactic preaching. Incorporating nationalist Zionist ideology, but also the traditions of Russian and European literature, her work is nevertheless original and Israeli.

The poetry, fiction, and translations of Yalan-Stekelis were collected in three volumes published between 1957 and 1963, with illustrations by Zila Binder: Shir ha-Gedi (Song of the kid); Yesh Li Sod (I have a secret); and Ba-Halomi (In my dream). The works were organized by age level, with a separate volume for each level. In 1986, this collection was reprinted in a single-volume special edition. The first volume contains songs and stories for preschoolers and non-readers. It includes play-songs (an innovation in Hebrew children’s poetry), rhymes for finger-play, lullabies, nature poems, poems aimed at the inculcation of good habits, and poems just for amusement and expressing emotions. The second volume, for children with reading skills, offers longer stories that probe the relationships between children and parents, and between children and their peer group. The third volume, for older children, contains Zionist poems about the Land of Israel, bereavement and losing parents in the Holocaust. Alongside poems filled with hope for peace and redemption are lyrical-confessional poems about the fears and emotions of a child trying to come to terms with his/her identity and living in society.


  • In 1956, Yalan-Shteklis was awarded the Israel Prize
    Israel Prize
    The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

     for Children's Literature. It was the first time this category was included. In their decision, the judges wrote: "…Whatever she wrote, she wrote for children, and whatever she wrote bore no hint of deliberate infantilization but rather of true childhood, genuine and realistic, that embraces joy and innocence but also sorrow and tears, life’s wisdom and life’s evils, disappointment and consolation. She flavored her poems for children with all the key ingredients that mark good children’s poetry. Her work possesses a wonderful sense of the world of children. Language that draws upon sources both ancient and modern, admirable poetic skills and perfect musicality are a rare phenomenon in any nation and language, and not every literature is so blessed" (Editorial, Davar li-Yeladim).
  • In 1968, she was made an Honorary citizen of Jerusalem and granted the Yakir Yerushalaim award.

In 2005, she was voted the 145th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Musical collaboration

Many of her poems were set to music and have become Israeli children's classics. In 1975 Israeli singers Shmulik Kraus
Shmulik Kraus
Shmulik Kraus is an Israeli actor and Pop-Rock singer and composer. Kraus published solo albums, as well as participating in Rock groups and actor groups . He participted in some movies .He composed many songs for other performers Shmulik Kraus (Hebrew: שמוליק קראוס, born in 1935) is an Israeli...

 and Josie Katz put out an album of songs based on her poems.

Published work

  • Hurry, Hurry Dwarfs!, 1939 [Atzu Ratzu Gamadim]
  • Danny, 1943 [Danny]
  • Rain, 1944 [Geshem]
  • Tol-Tol and His Sand, 1944 [Tol-Tol Ba'al Ha-Hol]
  • The Journey to the Maybe Island, 1944 [Ha-Masah La Ee Ulai]
  • The Girl Millik and Aunt Phillik, 1945 [Ma'ase Ba-Yaldah Millik U Ba-Doda Phillik]
  • Once There Was a Girl, 1946 [Ma'aseh Be-Yaldah]
  • How Songs Come to the Heart, 1947 [Eich Ba'im Shirim Le-Lev Ha-Adam]
  • The Story of a Curtain, Paris, 1952 [Ma'aseh Be-Parochet]
  • Bimmi, 1953 [Bimmi]
  • Birthday, Dvir, 1962 [Yom Huledet]
  • Wheels, Hadar 1957 [Galgalim]
  • Kid's Song, Dvir, 1958–63 [Shir Ha-Gdi]
  • I Have a Secret, Dvir, 1958–63 [Yesh Li Sod]
  • In My Dream, Dvir, 1958–63 [Be-Halomi]
  • Lie?, Ekked, 1966 [Sheker?]
  • Two Legends, Dvir, 1972 [Shtei Agadot]
  • Brave Danny and Other Poems, 1975 [Danny Gibor Ve-Shirim Aherim]
  • A Paper Bridge, 1978 [Gesher Shel Niyar]
  • Life and Words, Kiryat Sefer, 1978 [Hayim Ve-Milim]
  • The Soap Cried Loudly, [Hasabon Bakha Me'od]


  • Selected Poems

French: Jerusalem, Departament de la Jeunesse du Keren Hayesod, 1946
Russian: Tel Aviv, Am Oved, 1966
  • A Paper Bridge

Spanish: Jerusalem, Miriam Yalan-Shteklis & Esther Solay-Levy, 1978
  • The Journey to the Maybe Island

Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

: Jerusalem, Al-Sharq, 1972
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