Q: Why did you decide to write My Israel and Me?
A: I was one of the lucky authors chosen to visit Israel through P.J. Library’s first Author Israel Adventure Program in 2018. We saw many places and met a great diversity of people who live in Israel, people of different backgrounds, races, and religions.
I was struck by how many different people feel a deep connection to Israel. They think of Israel as “My Israel.”
I found this very beautiful and I knew there was a book in the idea that everyone has their own special connection with this ancient and beautiful land. I wrote the first draft of the book on the airplane, coming back from that trip.
Q: What kind of research did you do to write the book, and did you learn anything especially surprising?
A: Most of the research was in the trip itself and meeting the diversity of people and visiting the different places, from cities to kibbutzim.
The most surprising thing I discovered were the cats. I hadn’t realized there were so many stray cats in Israel, and I appreciated that the shopkeepers fed them and took care of them.
Q: What do you think Rotem Teplow's illustrations add to the book?
A: Rotem Teplow’s amazing illustrations bring the people and places of Israel to life in the most warm, child-friendly way! I love them! The color, detail, and personality in every illustration really makes the book – and Israel – come to life for readers.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: I hope kids will come to love Israel by seeing it through the eyes of the many different people who live there and visit there.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m always working on something – often many things! Recently, I’ve been playing with a manuscript that explores the idea of our connection with the wild, natural world.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you! I appreciate that you are letting people know about My Israel and Me!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb