Saturday, March 30, 2024

Q&A with Beth Kander




Beth Kander is the author of the new children's picture book Do Not Eat This Book!: Fun with Jewish Foods & Festivals. Also a playwright, she lives in Chicago.


Q: What inspired you to write Do Not Eat This Book!?


A: Three of my favorite things in the world are 1) my kids, 2) stories, and 3) food – all of which certainly inspired this book.


But more specifically, I wanted to write a read-aloud picture book that had rhythm and opportunities for call-and-respond moments for young readers that celebrated the things that bring us together.


The way foods literally bring us to the table, to share celebrations and traditions around a meal or special snack, is so relatable. Do Not Eat This Book! is about Jewish foods, but it also emphasizes that every culture has special dishes and traditions. I want it to be fun and appetizing for all readers, no matter their background.


Q: What do you think Mike Moran’s illustrations add to the story?


A: The playfulness, energy, and bright colors in Mike’s illustrations add so much to the book. I was so grateful to be paired with such a talented artist, and especially appreciated how open he was to input and inspiration.


It was important to me, for example, to have really representative, inclusive illustrations, and Mike delivered on that beautifully.

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book called it a “lighthearted introduction to traditional Jewish holiday foods.” What do you think of that description?


A: It’s pretty accurate! I think it goes a bit deeper than that, though. My hope is that readers experience the book as a joyful celebration of how food can bring people together—through the particular lens of Jewish holiday foods, widening to include all cultures and communities.


One of my favorite lines in the book is: “Every culture in the world has special festive foods, reflecting hopes and histories in every bite that’s chewed!”


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


A: I hope it deepens their curiosity about their own family’s favorite foods and traditions around festive meals, and plants early seeds of appreciation and interest in other cultures, too.


I hope they have fun calling out “Do not eat this book!” when they read the book with their caregivers. And, of course, I hope they try the recipes.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My debut novel for adults is coming out this fall from Mira Books (HarperCollins). I Made It Out Of Clay is about a woman at the end of her rope who makes a golem to solve her problems… what could go wrong?


It’s been a definite change of pace to go from working on picture books to a bittersweet comedy for grown-ups, but I’m really excited about this debut.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’ll probably keep writing stories for readers of all ages, so stay tuned! My website is, and while I’m on a couple of social media platforms, I’m most active on Instagram, if you want to follow the upcoming journeys: @bethkander.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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