ABOUT BARBARA BIETZ
- Barbara Bietz
- California, United States
- I am a children's author, magazine writer, children's book reviewer, and chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. I love talking about children's books and the craft of writing. My midddle grade chapter book, LIKE a MACCABEE, was released in October 2006 (Yotzeret Publishing) The best part of being an author is visiting schools and meeting students, teachers, and librarians. I write book reviews for Jewish Book World magazine and the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter. Selected interviews from this blog are featured in Jewish Book World Magazine. My monthly book column appears in the award winning web site, FamiliesOnlineMagazine.com. I also teach writing classes for adults. Please check out my web site at www.BarbaraBietz.com Contact me at BarbaraBietz@aol.com.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Lesley Simpson is the author of A Song for My Sister (Random House) a lovely picture book about simchat bat, the Jewish baby naming ritual. Lesley takes young readers on a humour filled journey as older sister Mira adapts to her new, very noisy baby sister! The charming illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss are a perfect pairing for the lively story. I'm so excited to share this special book and welcome Lesley.
What was the inspiration for Song for My Sister ?
The true story about this book is that I wrote a book called A Name For My Brother. It was full of toilet humour, bubbling with explosive burps and stinky farts. One publisher liked the concept but not the toilet humour and asked if I would consider a rewrite. I did a rewrite but out emerged a completely different book! That is one of the best things about writing-the surprise or what I call the loot bag factor. You do not always know what will emerge. I had read about a simchat bat ceremony for a girl that sounded meaningful. The ceremony featured showing light, for example, so the girl would create light in the world and each blessing contained a concrete example of its essence. I thought it was lovely way to welcome a new life into the world. For the record, I still have the stinky burpy book in my drawer if any publishers are curious. The Simchat Bat celebration may not be familiar to many readers. Why did you feel this was an important celebration to share with young readers? I love the notion of celebrating a new life of a girl with the wishes and blessings for what her life can be. I found out after I had submitted the book that it is the only English language picture book celebrating the naming of a girl in the Jewish world. I was flabbergasted but happy to begin filling the void.
What were your thoughts when you saw the illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss ?
I am a writer. And I say this as a writer of picture books. If the art does not 'sing' the book is dead. In my own imagination I wanted something that radiated warmth, whimsy with a sense of humour. These illustrations exceeded my expectations. I am honoured to have Tatjana's Mai-Wyss' work illuminate the story. The art is the lens through which the reader experiences the book. It is primary to the experience.
Mira is a very relatable older sister as she struggles with the loud crying of her little sister. Is Mira's character based on someone you know?
Mira exists in my imagination. She is plucky, honest and good at cartwheels. (I am terrible at gymnastics for the record and somersaults used to make me feel car sick.)
What is your favorite children's book?
OK, it's impossible to pick one book. But I can tell you right now I do love Sweet Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, about a little pea who can not eat his veggies until he gobbles up all of his sweets. I love Rosenthal's spirit of creativity, pluck and warmth.
To learn more about Lesley, please visit her web site at www.lesleysimpson.ca/