Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Norristown, Montgomery County
Educator Jaqueline Schachter Weiss collected versions of the Brer Rabbit stories from throughout Latin America.
Jaqueline Schacter Weiss, born in 1926, earned her M.S. and Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and served as a professor at Temple University. Besides teaching public school, Weiss also composed a children’s book of Brer Rabbit stories originating from Latin America as well as three other works on children’s literature.
Born May 28, 1926, in San Antonio, Texas, Jaqueline Schacter Weiss was the daughter of Albert O. (a businessman) and Yetta (a nurse and businesswoman) Nelson. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in 1946, earning her M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1963 and her Ed.D. in 1969. Weiss also briefly attended the National University of Mexico in 1943 and 1966.
Weiss married physician George Henry Weiss, and they had four children—Sherry, Ross, Scott, and Steven. Her memberships have included the Philadelphia Children’s Reading Round Table (executive board) and Phi Beta Kappa. She served as a business agent for the Food, Tobacco, and Agricultural Workers Union in Houston, Texas (1946-1947), and then as an international representative for the union in Philadelphia (1948-1950). Weiss’ primary occupation has been as an educator specializing in teaching and researching children’s literature. She taught elementary school in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania (1963-1968); as an assistant professor at Temple University (1968-1972) and an associate professor of education (1973-1983); a high school Spanish teacher in Haverford, Pennsylvania in 1983; and as a reading teacher in the Philadelphia School District since 1984.
For her chief work in the realm of children’s literature, Young Brer Rabbit (1985), Weiss collected fifteen folk tale narratives over a number of years while leading Temple University study tours in children’s literature to the Caribbean and South America. These various stories about “brother rabbit” derive from the oral traditions of African slaves, transcribed in Weiss’ book from Spanish, Portuguese, and French from countries like Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Panama, and Cuba. Whether known as Tío Conejo, Hermano Rabito, or o coelho, the rabbit uses his cleverness and wit in outsmarting larger and more intimidating animals. In 1985, Young Brer Rabbit was named a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies by the National Council for the Social Studies and Children’s Book Council. Weiss also received the Children’s Literature Citation from Drexel University and the Free Library of Philadelphia in 1988.Profiles in Children’s Literature (2001), Weiss’ latest book, is a compilation of more than 70 interviews that Weiss conducted with children’s book writers and producers throughout the 1970s. Petros Panaou of Children’s Literature Association Quarterly criticized this uneasy transition from oral interviews to the written page: “While the book is valuable for foregrounding the many connections between creators’ work and their personal lives, the endeavor of transforming an audiovisual series into a book produces a somewhat awkward result. The fact that most of the audiovisual material was originally produced in the 1970s adds to the awkwardness of this 2001 publication.” Janice M. Del Negro of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books says that “Overall the interviews themselves are adulatory and safe, addressing little that could cause controversy, and many of the concluding ‘Updates’ are already somewhat dated. Still, there are many, many gems here…Pair this with Berman’s The Kerlan Awards in Children’s Literature for an insightful look at the creators and producers of children’s books.”
Jacqueline Schachter Weiss currently resides in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Young Brer Rabbit, and other Trickster Tales from the Americas. Owings Mills, MD: Stemmer House, 1985.
Prizewinning Books for Children: Themes and Stereotypes in U.S. Prizewinning Prose Fiction for Children. Lexington, MA: Lexington, 1983.
Values in Selected Children’s Books of Fiction and Fantasy. Hamden, CT: Library Professional, 1987.
Profiles in Children’s Literature:Discussions with Authors, Artists, and Editors. (with Carolyn W. Field). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2001.
Del Negro, Janice M. Rev. of Profiles in Children’s Literature:Discussions with Authors, Artists, and Editors. The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 55.9 (May 2002).
“Jaqueline Schacter Weiss.” The Gale Literary Database: Contemporary Authors Online. 20 Aug. 2004. 4 Apr. 2007. <>http://www.galenet.com>.
Panaou, Petros. Rev. of Profiles in Children’s Literature:Discussions with Authors, Artists, and Editors. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 27.2 (Summer 2002).