Saturday, November 19, 2022

Q&A with Sarah Lynne Reul




Sarah Lynne Reul is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Bubbie & Rivka's Best-Ever Challah (So Far!). Her other books include NERP!.


Q: What inspired you to create Bubbie & Rivka's Best-Ever Challah?


A: Thanks so much for the interview! 


During the pandemic, I noticed how many people I knew started to bake bread, when they’d never done it before.


Over the years of raising my own kids, I also had been thinking a lot about how there are many ways to be Jewish - my family had always been culturally Jewish, and most of our traditions are built around food (latkes, apples and honey, pomegranate seeds and matzah). 


I combined some of those ideas in the writing of this book, along with the growth mindset concepts that my kids have helped me learn in the past few years. 


Q: How would you describe the relationship between Bubbie and Rivka?


A: I’d say that Bubbie and Rivka are pretty close, and enjoy a lot of the same things - bright colors, costume jewelry, looking at old photos, eating bread and trying new things. I grew up about four hours away from my own grandmother, so I didn’t get to see her regularly, but I have lots of lovely memories of us doing fun things together.


I’m super lucky that my own mom and dad moved one town over from us when my first daughter was born, and my in-laws live just 20 minutes away, so my kids have grown up spending lots of time with their grandparents. 


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “Reul's bright, colorful cartoons perfectly capture the love and humor of learning to bake....Young readers and their grands will feel the love and connect to their own family traditions.” What do you think of that description, and what do you hope kids take away from the story?


A: I think this is such a lovely description! I hope that people will come away from the book with the feeling that they can create their own traditions with their families, even if some of those traditions have fallen away over the years. Also, even if everything isn’t perfect on the first try (it hardly ever is!), they can enjoy the journey, with all of its bumps and wrong turns. 


Q: Did you work on the text first or the illustrations first--or both simultaneously?


A: I usually start with words first, and then once I’ve done a couple drafts, I start to do very small, very rough thumbnail drawings, to figure out a kind of “map” for what I’d like to have in each image. Then I go back and forth between text and words, refining and clarifying as I rewrite and re-draw several times. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: These days, I’m working revisions and linework for an early reader graphic novel with Harper Alley, called The Best Tool for the Job, where a nail and a hammer get into an argument about how to get things done. That book will (hopefully!) come out in Spring 2024. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: In my own work, I try to get through the difficulties of things not turning out quite like I’d planned by trying to be kind to myself. I hope this book helps readers of all ages do the same with their own endeavors.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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