The Yankee at the Seder is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category. Read an interview with author Elka Weber at BewilderBlog with blogger Laurel Snyder.
Here’s a teaser:
Laurel: I’m excited about all the new things happening in Jewish kidlit right now. I wonder if– as part of that trend– you you’d be willing to share a few ideas for things you’re working on, or works in progress. What’s the wackiest Jewish pickture book you can imagine wanting to write? They book you’d liketo write, but have a hard time imagining anyone would publish?
Elka: As you say, this is an exciting time in Jewish kidlit. The Jewish community in the US has always been diverse, but we’ve gotten better at reflecting that reality. Children’s literature in general grows more sophisticated and Jewish literature is part of that larger trend. I just hope we don’t get too sophisticated to have fun.
My next book (One Little Chicken, June 2011) is a retelling of a story in the Talmud, but with a slight twist. It’s about a rabbi who was so committed to returning a lost chicken that he sells the eggs, invests the proceeds and ends up with a houseful of animals before the original owner shows up to claim his one little chicken. In my telling, the story gets a little antic toward the end.
The wackiest Jewish picture book I’d love to write would be What Do You Mean, You Don’t Want Seconds? starring feisty Jewish grandmothers from different times and places defending their traditional cooking. Naturally, it would be narrated by a piece of gefilte fish and end up in an all-out food fight at the central bus station in Jerusalem.
I am also writing for adults. I’ve finished a book about the last voyage of Henry Hudson. His men mutinied and set him adrift in the Arctic in 1611 and he was never heard from again. There’s nothing explicitly Jewish in the book but the question of what drives good men to evil deeds is most definitely a religious issue.
The illustrator for The Yankee at the Seder is Adam Gustavson. You can read an interview with him at Great Kids Books with blogger Mary Ann Scheuer.
Here’s a teaser:
Great Kid Books: As a book lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?
Adam G: My great loves are the old Mercer Mayer books from the 1960s and 1970s, like One Monster After Another and Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo. I think a lot of my cultural awareness came from these books. For example, I would see an old fashioned mailbox, and I could grasp what it was in the context of the picture.
Naomi’s Song by Selma Kritzer Silverberg is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers category. The late Selma Silverberg wrote this story many years ago, and it was recently published by JPS through the efforts of her daughter, Judy Vida. Read an interview with Judy at The Book Nosher with blogger Robin Gaphni.
Here’s a teaser:
Robin: Naomi is depicted as a very independent, strong-minded woman in a time when men were in charge of virtually everything. Naomi’s Song was originally written in the late 1950’s-the very dawn of the women’s movement. Would you consider your mother an early feminist? Did she have some of the similar traits as Naomi?
Judy: Yes, I would consider her an early feminist. She was quiet about it, but she was determined to develop her own character and pursue her own interests even within the confines of a traditional 1950’s family role. It never occurred to her that there was anything she could not accomplish. She had long wanted to return to college to earn an elementary education degree. At the age of 44 she started toward that goal, taking only 1 course each semester, and completed her degree at the age of 58. Like Naomi she identified tasks and goals then persevered to complete them.
Tune in tomorrow for features on Jacqueline Jules (author, Benjamin and the Silver Goblet) at ASHarmony, Natascia Ugliano (illustrator, Benjamin and the Silver Goblet) at The Book of Life, Deborah Bodin Cohen (author, Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim) at Ima On and Off the Bima, and Jago (illustrator, Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim) at Jewish Books for Children.