“Jackie the Penguin Goes to Madagascar” is released

Alex Shaland hold his book Jackie the Penguin Goes to Madagascar

I am happy to share the good news: Alex Shaland’s new children’s book “Jackie the Penguin Goes to Madagascar” is now released.

In this book, Jackie meets adorable lemurs, colorful chameleons, tiny frogs, strange insects, beautiful birds, and other fascinating wildlife. No matter whether large or small, these creatures are very special because most of them do not exist anywhere else on Earth.

It comes as no surprise that Jackie falls in love with these animals, especially after learning many interesting facts about them. But at the same time, he observes scorched and bare land, where not so long ago there stood a forest full of life. Eventually, Jackie begins to understand the importance of protecting the environment.

Here is a link to Alex’s book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3NQ2RLm

Alex Shaland and lemur

Learn more about the author Alex Shaland.

Book Review of Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari

Review of “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari” by a  5th Grade Student
Link to book: https://amzn.to/3FjmS6Q

“(CHAPTERS 1 AND 2)  In the first chapter when the penguin says their name it seems funny that they talk. But also the pictures are really detailed and realistic! Not just that but the detail and writing sounds like we are actually in the story, not just in it reading. Some books I just look at but here is one I can actually enjoy and picture myself in!

It is funny to see Jackie is in Africa where not most penguins live here in real life. I think most Land animals live there in Africa, penguins are sort of a mixture of land and water animals. I like how they mentioned that they are a bird but one that can’t fly. Real facts are always good for people just so they don’t get confused on what is real and what isn’t.

New friends are very rare to see in person so it makes it more fun to read when there are true facts like I said and not just facts are good but the illustrations seem better than I can draw!! 

( CHAPTER 2 THROUGH 10) It is nice that you mentioned the United States in the book. Usually all books I read don’t include that in there so it’s amazing that they included our hometown. Not to mention the writing and detail they put in the words, JUST AMAZING!

Once again in chapter 3 there are great facts! Along the way I saw how Alex and Irene are humans and Jackie is a penguin. How do they communicate really well? I actually think that the storytelling is really nice, But there was one part where I could  think you guys needed to describe more about because I saw that in some parts there are definitions on the side so maybe do that? About their communication, no harm or bad stuff I’ve thought about yet!

(CHAPTERS 3 THROUGH 10) In these chapters it seems like Irene, Alex and Jackie are getting along to the point where they can travel together WHICH IS WHAT THEY DID! And, how does Jackie survive in Africa with not a lot of water? Maybe you guys could include penguin friends that Jackie meets? Other than Alex and Irene maybe?

(CHAPTERS 11 THROUGH 13) These chapters were Awesome, I really think Jackie might need another book!

(CHAPTERS 14 THROUGH THE END) I absolutely love the “who is little tommy” chapter, it is so cute and nice learning about tommy and the wild safari animals.

It was funny at the end when Jackie asked if they were going to see “THE FASTEST ANIMAL ALIVE” which is true because cheetahs are very fast, faster than a normal cat! Impressive!

I enjoy the waterbuck because I learned that they live in swampy and grassy areas like I don’t think they would survive in a desert cause there’s no swampy areas.

For kudu the great I think those facts were amazing! They helped me to learn a lot more about Kudu! The Antelope with blue legs chapter was funny and also makes me want to learn a lot more about antelopes!

I went to see actual safari animals yesterday and I saw a ZEBRA!! I can’t think of anything about the zebra page because I was focused on how good it was. I can’t think about anything else that has problems or something we should change, the book was amazing!

Link to book: https://amzn.to/3FjmS6Q

Learn more about the Author Alex Shaland

A Great Resource for Lovers of European Jewish History

website JGuide Europe

While working on our upcoming trip to France, I came across a wonderful resource that would be very helpful for any history buff.

The website is called “The Cultural Guide to Jewish Europe.” It was created in the 1990s by a group of historians and journalists with the goal of “leading the curious traveler to discover an unknown Europe.”  The site is very easy to use: just click on the link  


and then choose your country!

Happy discovering!


Learn more about Irene Shaland.

Author Alex Shaland Talks with Children About Writing and His Book

Alex Shaland

Join Cleveland author Alex Shaland, for a presentation about what it is like being a writer and about his book “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari.”

Event Date: Thursday, March 23

Event Time: 4:00 PM -4:45 PM.

An in-person event at the Beachwood Branch Library

25501 Shaker Boulevard / Beachwood, OH 44122-2306. p 216.831.6868

This presentation is for 2-5 grade students and their parents. Younger children are welcome as part of the attending family.

Please register for this free event on the Beachwood Library website:


If your child would like to read Alex’s book “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari” before or after the event, copies of his book can be purchased at Amazon https://amzn.to/3FjmS6Q

  or put on hold through the library catalog: CCPL’s catalog.

Alex Shaland and his children's book
Alex Shaland and his children’s book “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari.”

Join Rabbi Barbara for a VIRTUAL How-To Sephardi Tu B’Shevat Seder

Reprinted with permission of Rabbi Barbara Aiello.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

1:00 p.m.  US EST / 7:00 p.m.  Italy (19:00 hours)

Click here to join via Zoom

We will make our model Seder together using Rabbi Barbara’s Haggadah/Guide that is available for you: 


We’ll have blessings, readings and three groups of fruits and learn the Kabbalistic meaning of each fruit group. You can have items on hand and participate along with Rabbi Barbara. Or you can observe and enjoy.  Either way, all are welcome to The Birthday of the Trees, often described as “Jewish Earth Day,” – The Tu B’Shevat Seder!

Where to Find Irene Shaland’s Malta and Corsica Book

Book with reviews
Lead image courtesy of Abraham Presentations.

Dear friends, readers, followers,

After Irene’s January 13th virtual lecture “Revealing the Secrets of Jewish History in Malta” hosted by a British educational organization Abraham Presentations, we received several emails asking where Irene’s book “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica” could be purchased. 

Some of us prefer reading only physical books, paperback edition in this case. Others are thinking about downsizing and would only acquire eBooks and read them on their tablets, phones, or computers. We are happy to report that Irene Shaland’s two most recent books are available in both formats. Below please find directions on how to find the Malta – Corsica book:

 Paperback edition on Amazon: follow the link  https://amzn.to/3nfjH9s

eBook on Amazon: follow the link  https://amzn.to/3uJRTeQ

Note: Some readers mistakenly think that they need a Kindle Reader device to read Kindle eBooks downloaded from Amazon. Kindle eBooks can be read on ANY Tablet, smart phone, and computer. All you need is to download and install a free Kindle App that looks like this and use it to read eBooks from Amazon.

eBook in Google Play Store:  On your Android phone, tablet or computer open the Google Play store. From Games / Apps / Books, choose Books. Type author’s name “Irene Shaland” (without quotation marks) in the Search Books box. Choose eBooks. View Irene’s books.

eBook on Apple Books:  On your iPhone, iPad, or Mac device open the Books app. Touch or click the Book Store button.  Touch or click the Search button (looks like a magnifying glass). Type author’s name “Irene Shaland” (without quotation marks). Touch or click search and view Irene’s books in the Store Results.

eBook on Kobo: follow the link  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/shaland-s-jewish-travel-guide-to-malta-and-corsica

Here is what readers say about “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica”

Book cover of Shaland's Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica

“Irene Shaland takes you through the island treasures of the Mediterranean, a part of the ancient and modern Jewish world few of us know. This informative and scholarly book will make you want to start packing!” –Corinne Joy Brown, multi-award winning author and Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies editor HaLapid.

“It’s well structured, well written and smart. It is also very deep in history comparing to regular travel books. We traveled to Malta this year and definitely inspired by author to visit Corsica in the future!” -Amazon reader.

“Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica” is a masterpiece in bringing to light the unknown history and rich cultural treasures of Malta and Corsica which are situated in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea but off the beaten track for most tourists. Author Irene Shaland’s experience as an art and travel writer, educator and theatre reviewer brings a richness and depth not normally found in travel guides. Her husband, Alex, an internationally-acclaimed photographer has contributed a huge number of amazing photos that bring the story to life.” – Amazon reader.

“I was delighted to stumble upon this book! It gives a great overview of the historical features and present day community in the Maltese Islands. A handy book for those interested in Jewish History and the Maltese Islands in general.” – Amazon reader.

“This work of Irene Shaland opened my eyes to unknown parts of history and captured my attention from the start. This work is a result of profound and thorough research. It is a study and exploration into history on a deep level. Great for history lovers and travelers who like to breathe in the essence of unfading Jewish spirit.” Amazon reader.

Find out more about Irene Shaland.

Look at other books by Irene Shaland.

Revealing the Secrets of Jewish History in Malta


Mark Your Calendars: Irene’s Zoom Lecture on January 13th “Revealing the Secrets of Jewish History in Malta”

Sign on the place of Old Jewish Market in Mdina,Malta.
Sign on the place of Old Jewish Market in Mdina,Malta.

Dear friends, readers, followers,

Many of you asked if and when my presentation on Malta will be repeated. Yes, it will be! On Friday, January 13th, 2023, I will be presenting my Malta lecture via Zoom at the event hosted by a British educational organization Abraham Presentations.

The event is FREE and open to the public, but you will need a link to attend. Next week, the link will be available, and I will email it to all of you in a follow-up Newsletter.

If you are not on my Newsletter mailing list, please send me an email at [email protected], and I will forward you the link once it is available.

About the Presentation:

The Maltese Jewish narrative manifests a spellbinding trajectory still under the radar for most historians: from Israelites sailing there with Phoenicians three thousand years ago, to the first Jewish traveler, the Biblical Paul, arriving in Malta in the first century CE, through the dark times of Jewish slavery during the Knights of St. John’s rule in the 16th century, to today’s blossoming Jewish community.

This lecture is presented in commemoration of the approaching in two weeks (January 27th) 2023 Yom HaShoah, International Holocaust Memorial Day. HMD Trust in the UK which organizes, runs, and streams country-wide commemoration has announced its 2023 theme as “Ordinary People.”

And therefore, we will discuss today – within the detailed context of Maltese history – Gemilut Hasadim or the Unknown Acts of Loving Kindness during the Holocaust.

The tiny archipelago of Malta was the only country in the world during WWII that did not require entry visas, therefore – due to the Gemilut Hasadim of the non-Jewish Maltese – saving the lives of untold thousands of European refugees.

The lecture concludes with the Lessons Learned from the “acts of loving kindness” and Jewish stories in Malta and the Q&A.

Learn more about the presenter Irene Shaland.

Take a look at Irene Shaland’s Book “Shaland’s Jewish Travel Guide to Malta and Corsica.”

Jewish History on the Islands of Madeira and Azores

Synagogue Interior, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores

Dear friends, readers, and followers,

Please register for Irene’s new virtual Portuguese Jewish History lecture hosted on December 20 by the New City New York Library. This lecture is FREE, but registration is required to receive a link to attend.

The Hidden History of Jewish People on the Islands of Madeira and Azores and the Unsolved Mystery of a Sefer Torah

Day/Date: Tuesday, December 20th 

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Marina on Madeira island
Marina on Madeira island

Follow Irene Shaland in her exploration of two Portuguese autonomous regions in the Atlantic: Madeira and Azores. With their mild climate, dramatic waterfalls, and mountains, both archipelagos are popular tourist destinations with over five million visitors arriving annually. Few of the tourists though know that the two islands of Madeira and the nine islands of Azores have a hidden Jewish history, and the archipelagos tightly guard their secrets. The Jewish presence on the islands, still under the radar of most historians, spans the entire length of recorded history beginning with their discovery by the Portuguese in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is even thought that the explorer who discovered Madeira, Joao Zarco, was of Crypto-Jewish ancestry.

       Learn about the unsolved mystery of the ancient Sephardic Torah with an Ashkenazi cover. First given by a local man to an American Jewish officer serving on the US Army base on Terceira Island of the Azores, the Torah reappeared 40 years later on Sao Miguel Island inside a sea cave. Follow Irene on a virtual visit to the synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Madeira and Azores and delve deeper into the archipelagos’ hidden Jewish history.

To register for Dec. 20 FREE ZOOM event, please follow the link to the library website:


If you have any questions please contact Program Manager Veronica Reynolds at

[email protected]

Phone Number: (845) 634-4997 ext. 139

Learn more about Irene Shaland

Check out Irene’s books at Amazon

Storytelling with Photos

Alex Shaland and lemur

The Cleveland Photo Fest Presents:
A free in-person presentation “Storytelling with Photos”

Presented by: Alex Shaland

Date and Time:  December 16, 2022 at 7:00 PM

Location:  Bostwick Design Art Initiative Building, 2731 Prospect Rd, Cleveland, OH 44115 (Parking at East Side of Building)

Alex Shaland is a travel photographer and the author of two adventure books: “Suburbanites on Safari” and “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari.” In this entertaining presentation he will explain how his life-long passions for travel photography and creative writing merged into his published books.

Alex and his wife Irene explored more than 80 countries around the world. This presentation features many images he took during their travels. The emphasis is on photography used in their books. Three of Irene’s five books are richly illustrated with Alex’s photographs. In two of his own books, his creative writing and images help Alex to tell an entertaining and engaging story.

Irene’s and Alex’s books will be on display. Founders of the GTA Books publishing company, Irene and Alex will be delighted to share their experience with anybody interested in writing and publishing a book of their own.

Alex Shaland and his children's book

About Alex Shaland

Alex Shaland started his writing career in the 1990s, contributing articles and book chapters for several Penton Publishing periodicals and other publications. In addition to his own writing, he collaborated as an editor and photographer with his wife, Irene Shaland, in producing four books and articles published in numerous magazines in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and East Africa.

Alex’s photographs have appeared in over 20 print publications and online sources including Holiday Magazine (France/U.K.), The Boston Forward, Tikkun, ZEEK, Diarna Digital Heritage Mapping, Hackwriters(U.K.), IMAGE Magazine, ROMAR Travel, Design World Magazine and other journals printed in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Korea, and Kenya. Alex had several solo travel photography shows and participated in group exhibitions in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Ohio.

Following his first adventure book for adults “Suburbanites on Safari,” Alex’s children’s book “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari” was published in May of 2022.

Learn more about Alex Shaland and Alex Shaland Books: “Jackie the Penguin Goes on Safari” and “Suburbanites on Safari.”

Image of Alex and lemur courtesy of Anatoly Zaydes.

Africa Through the Eyes of a Jewish Explorer

Lion, Star of David, Masai people

Face-to-Face with Africa Through the Eyes of a Jewish Explorer

Virtual Lecture: Irene Shaland

Sunday, November 13th, 2022       7:00 PM EST  Via Zoom

Hosted by Temple Emmanuel of Wakefield, MA

For more information and to register for this lecture, please email the Sisterhood President Susan Hochberg: [email protected]

Encounter Africa – a never-ending journey of mystery and discovery!

Join Irene Shaland, a Jewish historian, book author, and educator, as she leads us on a unique journey to Africa seen through the eyes of a Jewish explorer. As a writer focused on the past and present of Jewish communities around the world, Irene shares personal Jewish stories she discovered in Africa.

Nairobi Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, Kenya
Nairobi Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, Kenya
Sanctuary, Nairobi Synagogue, Kenya
Inside the sanctuary, Nairobi Synagogue, Kenya

The mysterious continent of Africa remains one of the most enchanting and fascinating destinations for both Irene and her husband Alex, a travel writer and photographer.

Masai warrior dance
Masai warrior dance

Through Alex’s photographs and Irene’s story-telling, you will journey to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. You will meet Africa’s Big Five (five African animals most dangerous for a hunter on foot), visit the Nairobi Synagogue and its energetic community, go to a Masai Tribe village to learn Masai Old Testament-like legends, the Great Rift Valley (where life on Earth began) and follow the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania.

For more information and to register for this lecture, please email the Sisterhood President Susan Hochberg: [email protected]

Find out more About the Presenter

Find all Shalands’ books on Amazon:

Link to Irene Shaland’s Books. 

Link to Alex Shaland’s Books.