Monday, October 31, 2022

Q&A with Gloria Koster




Gloria Koster is the author of the new children's picture book Dance the Hora, Isadora!. Her other books include The King with a Horse's Ears. Also a librarian, she is based in Pound Ridge, New York.


Q: What inspired you to write Dance the Hora, Isadora!, and how did you create your character Isadora?


A: I wanted to write a wedding story in which the lens is focused on a child. While Isadora experiences the joy of the traditional dance and is able to teach it to her friends, she isn't happy throughout the story. It was important for me to imagine a real girl who initially experiences disappointment and who gains confidence with the  support of a loving adult.


Q: What do you think Barbara Bongini's illustrations add to the story?


A: Barbara did a fantastic job! I love the energy and playfulness of her artwork. Someday I'd love to meet her. She lives in Italy.


Q: What do you think the book says about dancing, and the hora specifically, in Jewish tradition?


A: Though I have two left feet myself, I adore dancing. It's a way to clear my head, and I think Isadora's cares also melt away when she dances. The hora is new to her and also to her dance teacher and classmates, but everyone embraces the hora - typically, though not always, a Jewish dance -  as happily as all the dances that reflect a variety of cultures (Latin dancing, step dancing, hip-hop, etc.).


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: I want kids to feel kinship with Isadora, who is in a bit of a funk at first but feels like a superstar at the end. And the fact that she shares her traditional dance in a more secular setting will hopefully encourage all kids to proudly share things from their own cultures or religions.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a new intergenerational story - this one features a boy who makes a match between his elderly grandfather and a "senior" dog. And stay tuned - there may be a sequel to Dance the Hora, Isadora!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Thank you so much, Deborah! I guess I'd like people to know that I'm a longtime children's librarian as well as an author. I'm a proud member of the Children's Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education and love reading and reviewing all the books that we consider for our annual list. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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