Me and My Monkey

This winter in a national park on the Caribbean island of Grenada, something really, really exciting happened. I got to hold a Mona Monkey!

At my request, an employee called up into the trees: “Hoo Hoo! Come on, Lovey! Hoo Hoo! Come on, Lovey!

He instructed me to stand with my back to the trees and hold a banana in my held-together hands.

After a few more calls and a few more minutes, this happened:

Do I look SURPRISED?

That’s because I WAS!

But then my surprise turned to:

DELIGHT!
Can you tell?

 

 

 

Special Hanukkah Treat

Maybe you thought I’d say the special treat was latkes. That’s what I would have guessed.

I did indeed enjoy the delicious latkes my husband made. But that’s a treat we have with family every year.

This year I got to read my picture book ESTHER’S HANUKKAH DISASTER to my granddaughter’s preK class. And it was such a treat! The children were adorable, attentive listeners and participated with enthusiasm in my request to help the shopping-challenged Esther the Gorilla choose more appropriate presents for her friends next year.

My granddaughter and I were both excited to have me read to her class!

Esther’s Hanukkah gifts for her friends were turning out to be a disaster!

 

                    How about a pair of gloves for this fish?

What would this duck like for a                        Hanukkah gift?

 

Meet Balled-Headed Man

Yes, I’m a little late. OK, more than a little.

My annual balled-headed Trick-or-Treaters greeter has been in front of our house since Halloween. And now it’s almost Hanukkah. But he’s still out there: a studious figure I imagine taking a much needed break from office work in our front yard.

Why us he still out there in December?  Because I like him!

                                           Meet Balled-Headed Man

I Love Summer!

Yes, I do, which is why I haven’t posted for the last 6 weeks. I know…I could have/should have posted on one of the many, many rainy days of this summer. But I hereby confess that the expression “lazy days of summer” applies to me.

Now that it’s well past Labor Day, I thought I’d finally post some scenes from our fun family vacation in the lovely, uncommercial lakes district of Maine. There were 10 of us, including 4 grandchildren.

                                                    We climbed a mountain! All ages did great.

                                   Storyland is just as sweet as I remembered from years ago.

 

                   Bunny face paint AND a balloon flower at the local fair!

                            Butterfly face paint AND a butterfly balloon at the fair!

                                   Toddler ball pit at the fair was a huge hit with our toddler!

Gracie the Feminist

Recently, Lilith Magazine included Gracie Brings Back Bubbe’s Smile in a column about Feminist Books for Young Readers! I hadn’t thought of Gracie or Bubbe as feminists, but the list made me appreciate my own book’s feminist themes and strong female characters. Bubbe is an active older woman, who does yoga, plays guitar, and jogs so fast that Gracie kvetches about not being able to keep up. She makes an impressive kick at Gracie’s soccer game when the ball goes out of bounds. The book doesn’t include a father, so the reader can infer that Gracie’s mom is a single mother. And now that I think of it, Gracie herself is a budding feminist through her perseverance in trying to help her beloved, grieving Bubbe engage with life again after the death of her husband, eventually finding a way to help her find joy as they learn Yiddish together.

Gracie Takes on Grief

I was pleased to find out that Gracie Brings Back Bubbe’s Smile is recommended on Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk, a mom-and-son book review team. Gracie and Remembering Mom’s Kubbat Halab by Medeia Sharif are cited as “two books about grief I think would be really good to help younger kids.”

Link to Instagram post

In my book I try to portray grief in a realistic way and end with the portrayal of eventually experiencing joy again. How wonderful it would be if my picture book could help ease the pain of anyone experiencing grief following the loss of a loved one.

Shout-out from Glass of Wine, Glass of Milk

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Gracie in the Roundup

I was so pleased to see Gracie Brings Back Bubbe’s Smile in a front page article in the Jewish Journal!
My book is featured in a roundup of children’s books and includes a mini interview with yours truly.

 

              I just noticed that the books are laid out on matzoh—just in time for Passover!

Writer Penny Schwartz sums up the plot: “It’s a sweet story about the warm and loving inter-generational relationship between a young Jewish girl and her grandmother, who bond over Yiddish words.”

Yay!

Goodreads With Ronna Rates Gracie a Good Read

A recent review of my latest picture book, Gracie Brings Back Bubbe’s Smile, is one of my favorites so far. Ronna Mandel of Goodreads with Ronna not only considers it a “thoughtful, educational, and accessible read for children processing a loss,” but also praises Gracie’s cleverness:

“Rather than come right out and tell Bubbe what she’s doing, Gracie uses her genuine curiosity to take her grandmother’s mind off her husband’s death by having her focus on something else. What a mature approach!”

It was also lovely to see of my Debby Rahmalia’s lovely interior illustrations:

 

Here’s the link to the whole review.

Another Fun Interview With Yours Truly

Recently, I did a fun interview on Candleschtick.com, a terrific website with all kinds of Jewish-themed gifts. Children’s Book author Sarah Lynne Ruel and I were featured together because we both have new picture books with Jewish grandmothers and food.

Sarah answered questions about the inspirations for her delightful picture book Bubbie & Rivkah’s Best-Ever Challah (So Far!) And I answered questions about the inspirations for Gracie Brings Back Bubbe’s Smile.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

You included several expressive Yiddish words that we love–mensch, chutzpah, and latke are some favorites at Candleschtick. Are there certain words you knew you wanted in the story when you first started writing it?

I knew the word naches (joy) would have to be there because it would be in the happy ending. And I knew we’d need kvetch (complain) because it’s funny. And of course, I’d need to throw in an oy.

Coincidentally, Sarah and I had met not long ago when we read our books at a temple Sunday school. See blog post

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