Help me welcome author Jenna Waldman who has two Jewish themed books out now, and wait until you see what she has coming next! I’m sure you’ll agree that she’s clever and hilarious. You’re also going to want to check out her book trailers which are some of my favorites. Her book, LARRY’S LATKES, illustrated by Ben Whitehouse, features an alligator cooking for Hanukkah. I know it isn’t exactly kosher, but I promise you, it’s worth checking out even if you’re not Jewish. Her debut, SHARKBOT SHALOM, illustrated by Sharon Davey released earlier this year features a shark robot getting ready for sabbath. I told you she’s clever!
Jenna has graciously offered one lucky winner a signed copy of LARRY’S LATKES or SHARKBOT SHALOM or a picture book critique – winner’s choice. If you write in rhyme, you’re going to want the critique! Comment on this blogpost to enter the giveaway.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
I was constantly in a new costume, creating a new performance, or making some type of art or invention. I remember personifying everything. One of my mom’s favorite stories is how I kept a pet cherry tomato in the refrigerator. I made Lego houses for ladybugs, had a pet plastic lawn ornament chicken, and let Peeps go stale so I could play with them—who could eat such a cute thing!? We played outside a lot, and animals were a big part of our lives (from snakes and hermit crabs to guinea pigs and cats). I remember everything feeling magical, and not necessarily in a unicorn and fairy way, but also in a Labyrinth and Return to Oz way (yes, I actually liked that movie!).
I loved stories—we would go to hear storytelling at a regular event called Stone Soup, or from local performers like Len Cabral or Bill Harley (look them up!) My favorite story, however, was a series of sibling adventures my dad made up, and would tell to me and my brother at bedtime.
Here I am with my brother and a little bird named “Mikey” that we saved from our cats. It was too little to fly, so we brought it to The Audubon Society until it was able to fly on it’s own. The paper I’m holding says “Mikey the Bird”.
What inspires you?
EVERYTHING! My boys are probably my biggest source of inspiration. Just going through life with them, hearing their imaginations at work, quirky non-sequiturs, what excites them, etc—it’s a wealth of ideas. I also try to keep my eyes open to the world around me, and use what I see to spark ideas. Making up silly rhymes and songs is also a way for me to play around with ideas that could blossom into a story.
LARRY’S LATKES was inspired by Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest in 2018, when the prompt was “Holiday Hero”. I thought about latkes, and “tater” rhymed with “gator”, and suddenly there was an alligator, with a food truck, who had to save Hanukkah by creating a new latke recipe!
What’s one thing you hope readers take away from your books?
Oh my goodness, only one? I’d love for kids to be inspired to try new flavors (especially MY kids!), but to also remember the “flavors” from the past.
I asked my nine year old for his takeaway from LARRY’S LATKES: “It has good rhymes.” I’ll take it! And since he’s begun creating his own rhymes, I’m thrilled to have helped inspire him (and maybe other kids!)
What’s next for you?
I have another book with Apples & Honey Press coming out in Spring ‘23. It’s called PURR-IM TIME and is a celebration of Purim with….cats! I’ve been dreaming of a cat book for years, so I’m really excited. I couldn’t resist the pun in the title (puns, another source of inspiration). I have some other things in the works that I hope will turn into exciting news in the near future (all fingers crossed!)
To find out more about Jenna and her books:
Twitter: @SarafinaDesign. Website: www.jennawaldman.com
For signed copies of Larry’s Latkes (ask for signature in comments): https://www.booksinc.net/book/9781681155654