Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Q&A with Rebecca Gardyn Levington




Rebecca Gardyn Levington is the author of the new children's picture book Afikoman, Where'd You Go?: A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure. Her other books include Brainstorm!. She lives in New Jersey.


Q: The Kirkus Review of your new book says, in part, “With rhythm and repetition, this book has the makings of a storytime hit.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think it’s absolutely incredible, of course! I was thrilled to see that Kirkus loves the book and gave it such praise, especially since I pride myself on my rhyming and rhythm skills.


I certainly hope that Kirkus is right about this book becoming a “storytime hit!” I have many readings coming up at bookstores, libraries and schools, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Q: How much background about Passover do you think kids need to enjoy the book?


A: I don’t think kids (or their grown-ups!) need to know much about Passover to enjoy the book.


My agent isn’t Jewish and knows very little about Jewish customs and from the very beginning, even before this book sold or had any illustrations, she told me how much her little girl loved singing the refrain of this manuscript over and over again.

And now that she’s able to actually hold the book in her hands and search for the sneaky Afikoman hiding on each spread, she loves it even more!


This book is really for any child who enjoys fun and interactive picture books like Where’s Waldo that asks them to take part in the adventure.


But of course, for those who do want to learn more about the Passover holiday, there is a glossary in the front of the book that explains more about the traditions and symbols used during the seder and gives definitions and a pronunciation guide for the Hebrew words sprinkled throughout the book.

Q: What do you think Noa Kelner’s illustrations add to the story?

A: I’m so thrilled that Noa Kelner was chosen as the illustrator because her cleverness in hiding the Afikoman in the pages of this book is just brilliant! Noa is Israeli and Jewish and so she was very familiar with the customs, but more than that, she brought so much detail and FUN to the story.


When I initially wrote this book, I thought of Afikoman as more of a smarmy, snarky, dislikeable character, but Noa drew him more as a silly trickster, which makes so much more sense and works so wonderfully in this book. I particularly love the endpapers she created, where more of Afikoman’s silly personality is revealed.


Also, Noa is a master of the fake-out! I obviously know where Afikoman is hidden on each spread, but when I show this to family members and kids, they have so much trouble finding him.


Noa intentionally used lots of browns and beiges to provide camouflage for Afikoman and she included many red herrings to purposefully trick the reader. This book would not be nearly as fun without Noa’s incredible art.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m always working on about a million and one things, but I’ll just touch on a couple.


My next book, Little Dreidel Learns to Spin, illustrated by Taryn Johnson, publishes in September with Scholastic, so I’ve been working with my editor to get that one all ready to go.


It is a Hanukkah book in rhyme (naturally!) about Little Dreidel, who learns that she must have patience and persistence in order to master a difficult new skill.


Then, in January, Write Here, Write Now, illustrated by Andreanna Boatta, publishes with Capstone. It is an inspirational picture book that encourages all kids to find joy in writing, no matter what, where, why, when, or how they write.


I have many other books coming out in the next couple of years (all in rhyme!) and can’t wait to share them with everyone.

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Afikoman, Where’d You Go?: A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure is available Feb. 20 anywhere books are sold! Hooray!


And, if anyone wants to learn more about me and my books, they can visit my website at and sign up for my monthly newsletter, in which I always share tips and tricks that have helped me on my writing journey, answer questions from subscribers, share book recommendations, and SO much more!


Deborah, thank you so much for having me on your blog and for helping me spread the word about Afikoman, Where’d You Go?!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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