Sunday, October 15, 2023

Q&A with Alan Silberberg



Alan Silberberg is the author and illustrator of the new children's board book Latke's First Hanukkah. His other books include the picture book Meet the Latkes. An author, cartoonist, and children's TV creator, he lives in Montreal.


Q: What inspired you to create Latke’s First Hanukkah?


A: After creating Meet the Latkes (and Meet the Matzah, Meetthe Hamantaschen) I wanted to make a Hanukkah book for really young readers that didn’t have to tell the Hanukkah story but would be a silly and fun introduction to the symbols of the holiday.


I knew I could have fun making Dreidels and Gelt and Jelly Donuts cartoon characters who would populate the pages. 


Q: As you mentioned, you’ve already written a picture book about the latke family--what was it like to write a board book about this latke’s first Hanukkah?


A: I love this question! The process of making a picture book versus a board book was new to me. But I have to be honest. It was fun to strip away the 32-page story format and think of how to create a 10-page board book that would be bright and funny and still have the Jewish holiday theme.


That’s part of the reason I drew the characters as simple as possible. I wanted it to feel like my other books - but in a younger style.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book called the illustrations “brightly colored, genially goofy cartoons.” What do you think of that description?


A: I LOOOOVED the PW review because they really looked at the book as what it actually was - a silly, cartoony board book for someone to read over and over again to little people.


PW gets me and (laughingly) referred to me as “a regular bard of Jewish holiday foods”… that was perfect too.


Q: What do you hope really young kids (and the adults in their lives) take away from the story?


A: My intention with this book is pretty simple - I want to help create the cuddles and giggles between a small person and the reader who shares the pages. I love the Hanukkah content of the story - but love the way board books connect people even more.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: Out in January is a second Jewish board book from Viking, P Is for Pastrami: The A-B-Cs of Jewish Food. That one also has the bright, goofy cartoon format and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.


After that is The Bagel Who Wanted Everything (also Viking), which is a funny fable about a plain bagel questioning what it means to be “more.” I’m having a lot of fun working on this one right now!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I just want to thank the folks who enjoy my way of celebrating being Jewish with silly stories. Laughter is important no matter what the subject.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Alan Silberberg.

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