Tamar Bornstein-Lazar

A Literary Journey Through Israeli Children's Literature


Tamar (Tamarah) Bornstein-Lazar was an Israeli children's author, renowned primarily for her beloved book series featuring the mischievous monkeys, Kofiko and Chipopo.

Born and raised in Ein Ganim, she attended the "Achad Ha'am" high school in Petah Tikva. Later, she pursued her studies at the Beit HaMidrash for Teachers in Givat HaShlosha. During the War of Independence, she served in a military band and worked as a teacher at the "Gordon" school in Petah Tikva.

In 1950, Tamar embarked on her literary career, eventually publishing hundreds of stories tailored for young readers, featured in nearly all of Israel's children's newspapers. These stories were later compiled into numerous books. In 1955, she was awarded the Itzhak Sadeh Prize for her literary contributions. Additionally, Tamar began publishing a series of story collections centering around Jewish holidays.

Tamar's first story, "The Girl from the Other Side and the Star from Above," was published in "Davar L'Yeladim" (Children's Word) in Volume 21 on February 2, 1951. This narrative weaves a tale of a star that crosses realms to heal a sick child with its magical milk. Three months later, her second story, "Why the Crow's Wings Are Black," emerged.

In 1957, she introduced her humorous series featuring the escapades of Kofiko and Chipopo, detailing the adventures of two mischievous monkeys—Kofiko's adventures in Israel and Chipopo's adventures abroad. This series comprised dozens of books and achieved tremendous success in Israel, with some volumes even being translated into English. The characters of Kofiko and Chipopo came to life in various children's shows. Nevertheless, these books garnered criticism from some educators and literary critics due to what they considered "low writing standards."

Starting in 1965, Tamar began a new series of books for children, with the protagonist being an American boy named Charlie Lutz, narrating his adventures in Israel. In 1968, she began publishing her "Kondisi's Adventures" series, and in 1969, she introduced "Soliman and Danny," which depicted the adventures of two friends—one Arab and the other Jewish.

In 2008, she was honored with the Petah Tikva Award.

Tamar also wrote a single adult book under the pen name "B.L. Anz" (initials derived from her daughters' names and her family name: Bornstein-Lazar Odelya Noga Zahara).

On June 16, 2020, at the age of 93, Tamar Bornstein-Lazar passed away and was laid to rest in the Segula Cemetery in Petah Tikva. She was married to Shlomke (Shlomo) until his death in 2011 and was the mother of three daughters: Noga and twins Odelya Hana and Zahara. The names of her family members, including Arna and Yoram (Lazar's nieces and nephews), also inspired characters in the "Kofiko" book series. Her personal archives are preserved in the National Library.

Works (Partial List)

Tamar Bornstein-Lazar was one of the most prolific children's authors in Israel, with approximately 330 published books to her name. Her writing spanned a wide range of genres, including folktales, story collections, book series, and educational textbooks.

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