I'm delighted to feature my friend, author/illustrator Ann Kofsky, on the blog today! Ann and I work together in several writing and resource groups, including The Book Meshuggenahs. I'm so excited about Ann's latest picture book, releasing just in time for Hanukkah: KAYLA AND KUGEL'S HAPPY HANUKKAH! Read on for her thoughts about inspiration, as well as stories . . . creativity . . . and connection. Welcome, Ann!
STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
Right now, I am working on a graphic novel manuscript that retells a historical, Jewish story. When I was in high school, I was the one girl who would show up at comic book conventions. Then in college I interned at DC Comics. Then as an editor at Behrman House, I worked on graphic novels by Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Eric Kimmel (!). So it’s exciting to finally try my hand at writing my own.
The process for Kayla and Kugel's Happy Hanukkah, which is out now for this Hanukkah, was inspired by, well, the fact that I had written two other books for the characters about Shabbat and Passover. So it seemed natural to have Kayla and Kugel experience Hanukkah, too.
CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
I like to share my art on Facebook, and I enjoy sharing my stories with my fellow authors in my writing group. Hearing the critique of other folks trying to do the same thing that I am means so much, and has really helped me make my writing stronger.
CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
To young readers? I love doing school visits and reading my work to them. There is nothing like seeing your audience in real life and in person! I am also going to be doing a bunch of visits through the Jewish Book Council's JBC Network, so I am excited about that as well. (During the pandemic, I did a lot of Zoom visits, too.)
To the kidlit community? I am thrilled to be a part of the BOOK MESHUGGENAHS along with you Melissa! As you know, the Meshuggs are 18 Jewish women kidlit writers, and being a part of that group has been a joyful experience.
Ann D. Koffsky is the author and illustrator of more than thirty books, including Creation Colors, Sarah Builds a School, the Kayla & Kugel series, Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor and Shabbat Shalom, Hey. Several of her books have been PJ Library selections, and her book Noah’s Swimathon received a Sydney Taylor notable designation from the Association of Jewish Libraries.
Ann has also created 100+ greeting cards and products for Hallmark Cards, Costco, Great Arrow Graphics and Rite Lite Judaica. Her work has also been featured in The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jewish Action Magazine, Mishpacha Magazine, and Hadassah Magazine.
Previously, she was also an editor and art director at Behrman House Publishers and an adjunct professor of art at Stern College for Women.
Ann lives in West Hempstead, NY with her husband and three children.
CONNECT WITH ANN:
Ann distributes free, Jewish themed coloring pages before the holidays. Sign up at http://annkoffsky.com/contact/ to be added to her list to receive them.