I am struck by this truth every single time I hold GITTY AND KVETCH in my hands. Its pages carry the fingerprints of all the people who have poured into my life and this story. Each character, every turn of a phrase, any attempt at a laugh or tender moment… it’s all a reflection of the friends and family who have shaped my understanding of the world. Any focus on a single creator not only reinforces our individualist culture, but also risks missing the heartbeat of a story!
It turns out that I tend to sequester myself in a deep, dark, quiet cave when drafting. This can be a beautiful place. It can also, unsurprisingly, be an isolating one. But the revising! Ah, the revising!!! There is nothing more reassuring than feeling so stuck you’re sure there is no way out… and then remembering there are humans waiting in the wings to offer their light.
To these generous, light-shedding humans: thank you for offering a safe space to be vulnerable with ugly drafts and uglier doubts. Thank you for your creative solutions and wise guidance. Thank you for making me cackle with laughter when my own intensity was getting the best of me!
I LOVED PULLING TOGETHER THIS POST! I hope you’ll swipe through to see the incredible ways these folks in particular shaped GITTY AND KVETCH into what it is today. And if you now view my sole author credit as an offensive bit of fraud: I wholeheartedly agree. To all the critique partners, cheerleaders and my community at large who I didn’t mention by name, please know how grateful I am for the gifts you’ve given me that inevitably found their way on the page, too.
Two weeks until Gitty and Kvetch hits the shelves! I hope you preorder it! And like it! And give me your info so I can send you bookmarks (link in bio)! If you want a signed or personalized copy, don’t forget to order from @keplersbooks
It’s August 1st, which means Gitty and Kvetch hits shelves this month… whattt?!! Here is the truth: preorders are a big ol’ deal in publishing. They signal interest to the publisher and booksellers, which makes a meaningful impact on not just promotion but also your ability to make even more books down the road.
Here’s another, more personal, truth: a big chunk of marketing a book, especially a debut, falls in the hands and hustle of the author. For me, this can feel uncomfortable, intense and— in the words of my 2-year-old— yucks.
But! I’m also learning that some parts of this process DON’T feel yucks. One of those parts? Being able to say thank you for the generosity you’ve shown me and this story. Another? Spreading my love and appreciation for Yiddish. So here’s one very small way I can do just that!
The brilliant @ariellandyart turned Kvetch’s Yiddish glossary into these magical, joy-filled bookmarks. She even made two versions spilling over with all the shmuts, mishpocheh and tuchuses you could ever desire! And they are all yours!!! All you need to do is…
📚Preorder GITTY AND KVETCH and snap a screenshot of the receipt. If you plan on recommending the book to friends or snagging a copy down the road, I hope you’ll consider doing that now— ideally from your favorite independent bookstore
📸 Click this link, then tap the photo from this post to let me know where I can mail your bookmarks
❤️ THAT’S IT!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting this story.
I’m not historically one for avoidance, but WOW did I find every reason not to tear open that cardboard box. Instead, I grabbed it from our doorstep and promptly shoved it under the typewriter. I then proceeded to stare at it suspiciously every time I walked by for the past three days.
Then last night, in the middle of building legos and putting on pajamas, I blurted out that the book was here and asked the boys if they wanted to read it. They sprinted across the room, jumped up on the couch and pulled out our softest blanket. This is the same exact scene that plays out any time we read together. It’s one of the most joyful and purposeful and sacred gifts of being a caregiver. It’s why I write picture books.
And that’s when I realized one possible root of my avoidance. The book inside that cardboard box has come to represent countless real and imagined possibilities in my mind. But there is one thing I hadn’t considered until I was sandwiched between my kids with the weight of GITTY AND KVETCH pressed against my lap: what if these little humans… don’t like it?
So much of my writing process is an invisible one for them— drafting early in the morning, revising late at night, pecking away at ideas in my notes app while they race their scooters. But once that invisible work became a REAL thing they can hold in their hands, then what?! Let’s be real, they most certainly won’t like everything I write. And I don’t need them to!
But today I am taking a moment to say: the book is real! It is here! It will hit shelves on August 31st! You can preorder it now! I’ll share more info on fun swag soon! And… MY KIDS LIKE IT!!!! Swipe to the last video for Afi’s question and Manu’s reaction that just about did me in.
I will be a leaky faucet of thank yous over the next few months, but for now, a special one for @tavitap, the effusive hype-man behind the camera, and @apastor926 for believing in this story (and me) from the very beginning. Now off to frame that note of yours 🙂
Tap the photo to head to Instagram where I posted the full unboxing video 🙂
A brief moment of kvelling… the cover for my picture book debut GITTY AND KVETCH is here ❤️
This story brings up a swirl of intense memories and feelings this week in particular. I am remembering my Poppy’s relentless joy. Oy vey’ing at my mishpocheh’s dry humor. Channeling the importance of radical inclusion and connection— through language, advocacy and beyond.
Above all, I feel an abundance of gratitude for having the chance to publish and share this story. Thank you to illustrator @ariellandyart for your creative brilliance! Gitty and Kvetch are exactly who they were meant to be because of your unfailing authenticity. And there is no better team to share this sweetness with than @apastor926 (@simonkids) and @gknowlton58 (@curtisbrown.ltd).
Before I officially plotz, here is the cover reveal from @hereweeread with caption posted below. Thank you, thank you for your voice, Charnaie! Pre-orders are live everywhere books are sold 🙂
COVER REVEAL: Gitty & Kvetch
Today I’m excited to reveal the cover for this forthcoming August 2021 picture book that celebrates Jewish humor, joy and connection written by @carolinepritchardwrites. Check out the synopsis from the publisher below.
In this hilariously sweet story about an opposites-attract friendship, chock-full of Yiddish humor, a girl and her best bird friend’s perfect day turns into the perfect opportunity to see things differently. Gitty and Kvetch couldn’t be more different: Gitty always sees the bright side of life, while Kvetch is always complaining and, well, kvetching about the trouble they get into.
One perfect day, Gitty convinces Kvetch to shlep off on a new adventure to put the perfect painting in their perfect purple tree house But when her perfect plan collides with a perfect storm – oy vey – suddenly it’s Gitty who’s down in the dumps. Can Kvetch come out of his funk to lift Gitty’s spirits back up?
Recommended for ages 4-8 and up. Publishing August 31, 2021 by @simonkinds
What is better than a barking piece of toast who just wants to be a dog? It’s this kind of kid-centered, laugh-out-loud writing that makes TOASTY such a gem! Thank you Sarah Hwang for joining me to talk about your hysterical *and* heartwarming debut picture book.
Here are some highlights from our conversation:
🍞How moving from South Korea to the United States at a young age helped Sarah eventually embrace her Asian American identity and inspire this story
🍞The random burst of inspiration that emerged during her breakfast one morning when she realized her piece of toast looked just like how she drew dogs as a child
🍞The constant unknowns around rejection in publishing and finding the perfect home with @holidayhousebks
🍞How this exactly perfect twist ending came to be— including many a failed ending (I love you, Toasty the Ghosty!!!)
🍞Why kid logic > adult logic
🍞Sarah’s mission to create experiences, not just static stories, for the whole family to celebrate
I hope you will join me in supporting this recent release by snagging your own copy, leaving reviews and/or requesting it from your local library! And while you’re at it, check out Sarah’s board book coming out in November called NOM, NOM, NOM. It’s as adorable as it sounds 🙂
And don’t forget to check out @forever21pbs for more of our debut picture book love ❤️
What a way to end this week of conversations in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month! Thank you to the brilliant Laurel Snyder for letting me learn with you— not “from you,” as you so wisely shared—today. Here are some highlights:
▪️ Seeking a self-directed identity that was outside the perceived monolith of what Judaism “should” look like (e.g. brisket, Yiddish, the perfect bagel)
▪️ How an illustration of a Christmas tree helped her claim space in writing Jewish stories for children
▪️ The importance of broadening the tent, that however you “do” Jewish IS Jewish and is worthy of representation
▪️ The beautiful balance of ancient and contemporary; asking ourselves how we will hold on to the fixed, static texts while allowing the fluidity and dialogue to challenge ourselves in the moment
▪️ Leaning into the humility and vulnerability required for growth; recognizing that growth demands an acceptance that our previous beliefs were inadequate for this moment
▪️ A realization that not marching for Palestinians was “a restraining of my own empathy”; leaning on an understanding of Judaism that pushes for constant self-examination, questioning and justice
I am walking away from our conversation with a newfound desire to seek discomfort as a requirement for growth. Thank you for your commitment to broadening the tent so that your readers (and the rest of us) will feel a little less traif and a little more connected!
Books by Laurel referenced in our talk:
CHARLIE AND MOUSE LOST AND FOUND illustrated by Emily Hughes (available for preorder!)
HUNGRY JIM illustrated by @c.groeninnk
BAXTER, THE PIG WHO WANTED TO BE KOSHER illustrated by David Goldin
GOOD NIGHT, LAILA TOV illustrated by @juiishida
THE FOREVER GARDEN illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX
ANY WHICH WALL
HALF/LIFE: JEWISH TALES FROM INTERFAITH HOMES
Thank you to the prolific, thoughtful, wise Erica Perl for sharing her work and vision in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. Here are some highlights:
▪️ A brilliant categorization of influential Jewish books from her childhood, including those involving “Jew-ish” themes (e.g. Ira Sleeps Over), immigration / NYC (e.g. The Carp in the Bathtub), the old country (e.g. Yata and the Goat) and contemporary stories (e.g. anything Judy Bloom)
▪️ How her writing is informed by experiences growing up without many others Jews, a sense of being “other” as well as a desire to connect to the past while staying rooted firmly in the present
▪️ How Chelm, a mythical village of fools, felt not too dissimilar from living in D.C. during 2020…
▪️ Why there should be a grassroots movement around the 9th night of Hanukkah, a way to celebrate the friends, neighbors and completel strangers who support us in countless ways (just like the menorah’s shamash)
▪️ Why calling Jewish stories “niche” is antiquated, as well as the need for more diverse Jewish stories, biographies and beyond that include a wider set of experiences and identities
▪️ Being Jewish as a source of pride and fear, and how experiences of antisemitism can inadvertently bolster us to recognize and stand up against persecution of other religious minority groups
Thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom, Erica. And let it be known: I’ll be pounding the pavement to support The Ninth Night of Hanukkah as a newfound celebration and go-to book on the shelf! I hope to see y’all tomorrow when I connect with @laurelsnyder at 7:30am PST, which will be the last talk in the series.
THE NINTH NIGHT OF HANUKKAH by Erica, illustrated by @shaharkober
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU O.J. by Erica
WHEN CARROT MET COOKIE by Erica, illustrated by @jonathanfenske
Sarah Aroeste just gave a masterclass on Sephardic culture, Ladino, and the importance of inclusive picture books, music and beyond! Here are a few highlights from our conversation in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.
▪️ The history of Sephardic Jews, those who trace their history back to Iberian peninsula before Spain expelled all Jews in 1492, and how the Ladino language formed from that dispersion across the Mediterranean
▪️ How an Albanian family and their commitment to helping others—a pledge of honor called “besa”—saved her grandmother’s life when she fled the Holocaust
▪️ Ladino as a living, breathing culture that is vibrant— not something dark and stuck in the past; it should be represented with that same color and joy on the page, too.
▪️ Board books as an opportunity to introduce kids (and adults) to Sephardic culture in a way that normalizes and excites folks to want more
▪️ Overcoming a chip on her shoulder about others not knowing her Sephardic heritage; moving towards a mindset of wanting to give people honest and hope-filled reasons to celebrate these stories
▪️ Pushing beyond ashkenormativity in the pursuit of diversity; the importance of publishers, booksellers, consumers and writers making space for, demanding and creating wider representation in Jewish stories
▪️ “Todos los dedos de la mano no son unos” is a Ladino saying meaning “all the fingers of the hand are not the same”— our Jewish stories (and all stories) are unique, yet intertwined. We need to seek them out and listen.
What a gift you are, Sarah. Your passion and vision for a more inclusive Jewish tradition is nothing short of contagious! If you are feeling inspired by Sarah’s voice, join me in ordering her books and supporting her music (more below)! I hope to see you tomorrow at 11am PST in conversation with @ericasperl!