Q: How did you come up with the idea for Not So Fast, Max?
A: When my kids were younger, they couldn’t wait to go apple picking each fall. Their grandma would join us and, along the way, shared childhood memories of the Jewish holidays.
Through the years, we recounted these special days and the traditions that grew from them. I became inspired to capture the treasured moments and share them with readers.
Q: How much do you think kids need to know about Rosh Hashanah to appreciate the story?
A: Not So Fast, Max can be enjoyed by all readers and is a wonderful introduction to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The meaningful elements of the holiday are included in a fun and organic way, plus a glossary is provided for readers who want to learn more.
Rosh Hashanah’s focus on renewal and hope is woven into the story, a universal theme that will resonate with both children and adults.
Q: What do you think Jennifer Kirkham's illustrations add to the book?
A: Jennifer has brought Not So Fast, Max to life with her sweet and expressive illustrations. Her artistry reflects the emotions of Max, Emily and Savta (Grandma) and makes readers feel like they are right there in the orchard.
Jennifer added a secondary layer with the addition of a little bird that follows the characters throughout the book. Kids will love finding the bird on the pages and creating their own stories from this.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I hope kids will realize that good things in life are worth waiting for.
Max, like many children, does not like to wait!
I also want readers to understand the importance of intergenerational connections. There is so much to learn from these relationships, which are truly priceless.
Savta is so much cooler than Max ever realized!
Plus, I’d love for kids to see themselves in Max and Emily. Contemporary Jewish stories provide a lens to view the meaning of Jewish values, traditions, and culture.
Max and Emily are typical kids who find a unique way to embrace the Jewish New Year.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Currently I’m working on a number of picture book projects – a Shabbat story told in the style of a folktale, a sequel to a STEM book, and a multicultural story based on the power of friendship and food.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Savta’s delicious apple cake recipe (included in the book) has been passed down from generation to generation. It continues to be shared with extended family and friends across the country and receives frequent requests.
I hope readers enjoy Not So Fast, Max and help support local independent bookstores.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb