I have collected the dialogue that has been going back and forth in the letters column about Women and pictures in the Flatbush Journal.
(Please note that the articles appear small on screen, but if you click on them they should open larger so you can read them.)
It started with the FJJ reprinting my article that I had published for Jewish Action article as a letter in their 5/12 issue:
Congratulations to Esther P. for winning the “Who knows 2?” Passover book raffle.
Happy Pesach to everyone!
Who knows Two? I know two! TWO are the tablets that Moses brought.
AND….Two are the books that are being given away in my latest GIVEAWAY!
Wanna win? To enter, just add any Passover related comment below. You can list your favorite Passover food, or, if you’d like to take the time to share a fun-for kids Passover idea, I’d love to hear about them.
This coloring page has a twist: Invite kids to add their own picture of the Esther story into the center!
Just click on the image and print. (And if you need it as a pdf, click here: purim megillah)
(PS: If your kids do make some megillah art–feel free to email it over to firstname.lastname@example.org to share it with me! I would LOVE to see their creations–and of course I will share it here in my blog, too!)
As I just typed in my last post…I am very pleased to be a stop on the Sydney Taylor Blog Tour!
I got to e-chat with the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners in the Younger Readers Category, the creators of Ketzel the Cat who Composed: Author Lesléa Newman and illustrator Amy June Bates.
Come have a listen:
Tell me about your art style. What media do you work in?
I am very pleased to be a stop on the Sydney Taylor Blog Tour!
I got to e-chat with the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners in the Younger Readers Category:
The creators of Ketzel the Cat who Composed: Author Lesléa Newman, illustrator Amy June Bates.
Come have a listen:
Thanks for jointing me here on my blog, and agreeing to answer a couple of my questions!
Looking over your more than 70 (! wow) books, I notice that you have a number of Jewish books, and a bunch of cat books too! What about Judaism inspires you to create stories? What about cats?
Being Jewish is such a core part of my identity. I was very close with both my grandmothers who came to America from “the old country” and whose first language was Yiddish. I learned basic Jewish values from them such as be kind, take care of those less fortunate than you, respect your elders, protect your loved ones, don’t only think of yourself, do your best to repair the world. I also learned about Jewish culture, holidays, and customs from my grandmothers, including the best chicken soup with matzo balls recipe ever. So naturally, when I started writing, these experiences influenced my subject matter and voice. It’s just who I am. I feel that every book I write is Jewish, even if it has no overt Jewish content, because it is informed by my being a Jew and carrying that identity with me wherever I go.
To answer the second part of your question, I have always been an animal lover, and have co-habitated with cats since I graduated from college. (I don’t say that I have owned cats because as all cat-lovers know, the human is owned by the cat, not the other way around). Since I spend so much time in the company of cats, it is natural for me to write about them. They are an endless source of amusement and joy; every cat I’ve ever known has given me the gift of unconditional love. I have written a funny book, called “Cats, Cats, Cats!” which is about a woman who lives with sixty cats, a sad book called “The Best Cat in the World” which is about a boy named Victor whose cat Charlie dies, and what I hope is an inspiring book, Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed.
I was having a nonproductive writing day, and to distract myself from the blank page, I picked up my synagogue’s newsletter. The rabbi’s column mentioned Ketzel’s New York Times obituary and spoke about Moshe Cotel and how he lived his life with kavanah (intention). Mr. Cotel was open to the beauty and magic of ordinary moments that are actually extraordinary moments, and which are all around us, including his cat’s stroll across his piano keyboard. I was completely charmed by this story and knew it was a children’s book waiting to happen. Like Mr. Cotel, I also seized the moment, and started doing some research immediately. I never know where a story idea will come from. I feel like Ketzel chose me, not the other way around, just as various other cats have wandered into my life and worked their way into my heart.
I just loved that a composition composed by a cat had received an honorable mention in a contest. I usually start a writing project with a question, and my question was: why, on this particular day, did Ketzel stroll down Mr. Cotel’s keyboard? I don’t know the answer to that question (only Ketzel knows!) so that’s where the fiction writer in me gets to work. And I decided to have Ketzel stroll down the keyboard out of kindness. In my book, Mr. Cotel is unhappy because he can’t compose a short piano solo for a contest. Ketzel decides that if she destroys the letter about the contest (the source of Mr. Cotel’s unhappiness), he will feel better. So she dashes down the keyboard out of love.
Liked that? Check out my chat with Ketzel’s illustrator, Amy over here.