THE EIGHTH MENORAH written by Lauren L. Wohl and illustrated by Laura Hughes is a perfect book to read this Hanukkah...
"Hanukkah is a few weeks away, and Sam can't wait to celebrate with his family, especially his grandma. At Sunday school, everyone in his class is busy making clay menorahs to give as Hanukkah gifts! Sam likes how his menorah is turning out, but he’s worried—his family already has seven menorahs! Will they want another one?" (Ages 4-7)Just like for Sam, Hanukkah is just a week away, coinciding with Thanksgiving for the first time in almost 100 years! Happily, both Lauren and Laura stopped by to talk about that and their latest book.
Q. Lauren, Do you have a collection of menorahs in your family like Sam's family does? Is that how you got the idea for the story?
A. We didn’t have a collection of menorahs; we used the same one each year. I loved the familiarity of it when my mother took it out a few days before the holiday, polished it, and set it on the table waiting for the first night.
When I met my husband, I saw that his family had a few menorahs, one that looked old. I knew it had a story. When his grandmother told me that story, I was hooked. Menorahs were important in every family. It’s that realization that was the seed for THE EIGHTH MENORAH.
Q. Lauren, I love that Sam is worried his family won't need his menorah - so sweet! Do you have a menorah that means more to you than others?
A. We have three menorahs. One is the remnants of the clay menorah our son made in Hebrew School. It’s dried out over the years and is in two big pieces. We don’t use it, but we’ll always keep it. Another is the menorah my husband and I bought when we first got married. And the third – the one we use – is one we bought when we moved to our home in Miami.
Q. Laura, you have such a fun, energetic illustration style. What is your medium?
A. Thank you! I use lots of different things depending on the project but for the 8th Menorah it's a mixture of paint, pencil and a little collage work with the textures.
Q. You've both been around children's books for a long time now. What were your paths to publication?
Lauren: I’ve been on one side of the children’s book publishing industry or another for all of my working life – mostly in marketing. You’d think this would make it easy to get a book published. But it really doesn’t work that way. I follow the advice I give to everyone who wants to get published: I have a terrific literary agent, and he submits the work, follows up, and makes things happen.
Laura:I studied Illustration at university and when I graduated I worked freelance on my own for a little while - mainly creating artwork for magazines. I was picked up by my agents (The Bright Agency) about 4 years ago now, and they got me my first publishing job with Oxford University Press, a UK publisher.
Q. Do the two of you feel there are enough Jewish-themed books available for children?
Lauren: I think there’s room for more and new titles – to keep the variety fresh.
Laura: The UK really lacks a decent offering of Jewish-themed books, both religious and those featuring Jewish characters. It would be great to see that addressed here. I think publishers in the US have a great deal more to offer in that respect.
Q. What do you think of Hanukkah falling around Thanksgiving this year? Will there be much feasting at your houses?
Lauren: We will celebrate with close friends. Two weeks later, we will be visiting our son and his family for our grandson’s fourth birthday. And we will celebrate all over again! Our grandson was born during Hanukkah, so the holiday that has always felt close to us is even more personal now.
Q. Lauren and Laura, do you have any words of wisdom for my readers who want to tell their own stories and get published someday?
Lauren: I’ll share the words a friend of mine – an much-award children’s novelist – told me Writers write. That’s my advice, too. Don’t talk away your stories: write them! Then re-write them.
Laura: Keep at it! The best way to break into the market is to become really good at what you do so make sure you practice as much as possible. I always try and draw something everyday no matter how quick.
Thanks so much for dropping by Lauren and Laura! And HAPPY HANNUKKAH!
Lauren: Thank you! Happy Hanukkah to you!
Albert Whitman has kindly agreed to send an autographed copy of THE EIGHTH MENORAH to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below.
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