The first-ever Highlights Foundation workshop for writers of Jewish-themed children’s books took place at the founders’ home in Boyds Mills, PA from May 23-25. Throughout the following weeks, I’ll be sharing some highlights (no pun intended) of what the speakers had to say.
Lisa Silverman, Children’s Book Review Editor, Jewish Book World–Overview of Jewish Children’s Lit
Penninah Schram, master storyteller and professor of speech and drama at Yeshiva University’s Stern College–Getting Oral Tradition Down on Paper
Editor/Agent Roundtable—Devorah Leah Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief, Hachai Publishing; Françoise Bui, executive editor, Delacorte; Rubin Pfeffer, East/West Agency; Mary Kole, agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency; and Carolyn Yoder, editor, Calkins Creek Books
Jane Yolen, award-winning author of 300 children’s books, including The Devil’s Arithmetic–Writing Jewish Fiction
Both Jane and special guest, Debra Hess, senior editor, Highlights for Children, participated in our group critique.
Inspiration can come from anyone and anywhere
After the roundtable, while each conferee met with her editor or agent manuscript reviewer for a 60-minute critique, I had some free time. Jane Yolen asked me some questions about what I’ve written. When I told her about my research trip to my grandparents’ shtetlach in Poland 2008, she said, “Counting the Steps–that’s a book.” With nearly each statement I made, Jane suggested a book idea or a publisher. I marveled at how she could take the kernel of an idea and run with it.
You may have read in some how-to books that you should never discuss your book ideas with anyone for fear that the conversation will zap your energy for the book. I disagree. Only when you talk to others about your ideas will you gain the opportunity to broaden and crystallize your idea.
More to come
Stay tuned to The Whole Megillah for more insights from Writing Jewish-themed Children’s Books. And, be sure to check out the Highlights Foundation website for more information about workshops.