José Patterson, The Peoples Choice!

Many Congratulations to José Patterson, long serving SCBWI member and second runner up in the People's Book Prize for her novel No Buts Becky! It's inspirational how José, now in her eighties, has worked to find success with her story and that her affirmation comes from the most important people in publishing - the readers. Over to José...

"My book portrays the lives of a group of poor Yiddish speaking Russian Jewish Immigrants who settled in the East End of London towards the end of the 19th century. They lived in overcrowded tenement blocks and were bound together by their religious faith and constant support for each other. Children were raised in a strict code of behaviour at that time which was not to be questioned. The story revolves about Becky Feldman who was something of a rebel and did just that!

"A few years ago I heard an Oxford friend of mine give a fascinating talk about the fate of these immigrants who had fled to England to escape from the terrible anti-Semitic pogroms in Russia. As I am the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants I am no stranger to Jewish customs and to arranged marriages – although, thankfully it certainly doesn’t operate amongst my contemporaries!

Not bad for a long serving SCBWI Octogenarian!

"No Buts Becky seems to have gone from strength to strength. I had no idea that it would be of great interest to both children and adults until I received the amazing review which appeared in Books Monthly. I was astonished – still am! My publishers entered No Buts Becky for the Peoples’ Book Prize Award Competition and the winner was announced at the recent Gala dinner held at the Stationer’s Guild Hall with two of my lovely grandchildren to accompany me (I was wearing very high heeled sandals for the occasion, and I used them as a kind of human Zimmer frame! I was both pleased and proud to reach the second runner up. Not bad for a long serving SCBWI Octogenarian!

José Patterson

No Buts, Becky! is a period novel set in the East End of London in 1908. It describes the tenement life of a Yiddish-speaking Russian Jewish family who, like many others, escaped to England from the widespread killing of innocent Jews, known as pogroms.

BOOKS MONTHLY SAYS: This is a fascinating, entertaining story that most people with an interest in history and how various groups of people lived at times of great trouble will simply devour. If the author intended it for a small group such as 9-11 year olds, fair enough, but there is enough in it to satisfy any reader of any age. There are echoes of the stories that inspired Fiddler on the Roof here, with a matchmaker out to find a suitable wife for Becky Feldman's father, but for me the most engaging part of this brilliant story is reading how the Russian refugees lived in blocks of flats, bound together by their faith, helping each other in what I think was the East End of London, the customs, the Yiddish words, the families helping each other. The story is wonderful – I won't spoil it by telling you the outcome, but I think this should win prizes.

Well done, José!

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