A new Jewish children’s book imprint from Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books: Shofar Books
Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books publisher Margery Cuyler has been involved with children’s books since 1970. She is the author of 42 books, including her first book, Jewish Holidays, and has acquired and edited award-winning Judaica titles, including The Rabbi and the Twenty-nine Witches, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, Smoke and Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust, and Yellow Star.
At the June 2010 New Jersey SCBWI annual conference, Margery enthusiastically shared some wonderful news for writers and readers of Jewish children’s literature: a new Judaica imprint working in partnership with The PJ Library®.
The Whole Megillah (TWM): Why did you decide to introduce a Jewish imprint? Why now and why this age group?
Margery Cuyler (MC): We were very excited when we met the staff at The PJ Library(R) a few years ago in New York City. They seemed dedicated to a vision, i.e., to send a free copy of a Judaica children’s book to a Jewish family on a monthly basis. It would be a way to introduce Jewish culture and values to a segment of the Jewish population that might have little or no contact with Jewish institutions and education; hence, the books would help build Jewish identity. It was businessman and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon who instigated the PJ Library program, and he and his very capable staff spoke with so much conviction that we at Marshall Cavendish caught their enthusiasm. Because we are a medium-sized publisher, we do not have to print as many copies as our larger competitors to realize a profit. We thought it might be possible to develop a program for a niche market as long as we had The PJ Library’s support. If we developed books that we mutually agreed upon, we could market them through our normal trade channels and also to Jewish libraries and synagogues. They, in turn, could reach directly into the home. Since their age demographic is 3-8, we decided to concentrate on picture books.
TWM: How did you come up with the name of the imprint?
MC: We came up with the name SHOFAR BOOKS for our new line, as it’s an important symbol in Jewish religion, i.e., traditionally it has signaled the start of a holiday, a call to worship, or a call to battle. To us, it’s a call to the importance of reading good books and building the interiority of the child.
TWM: What is the imprint’s editorial focus? How many books do you plan to publish each year?
MC: We are looking for books with stories that express the strong values that Jewish families espouse. We are especially interested in stories about contemporary Jewish life. Also, stories that include some of the lesser known Jewish holidays. Humorous stories are welcome, and stories that address interfaith situations.
We plan to launch Shofar Books in the fall of 2010 with two picture books. We hope to publish a minimum of four books a year and hopefully more as the program advances.
TWM: Are you seeking submissions? If yes, how and what can writers submit to you?
MC: We are definitely looking for submissions. They should be sent to Margery Cuyler, Publisher, Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books, 99 White Plains Rd., Tarrytown, NY 10591.
Please mark SHOFAR BOOK SUBMISSION on the envelope.