Monday, October 31, 2016

Q&A with Jamie Korngold

Jamie Korngold's books include Sadie and Ori and the Blue Blanket, the newest in the Sadie and Ori picture book series for kids. She is a rabbi who serves as spiritual leader of the Adventure Rabbi program, which is based in Boulder, Colorado, and Lake Tahoe, California.  

Q: Why did you decide to focus on the issue of aging in your latest Sadie and Ori book for young readers?

A: My mother has Alzheimer’s and there is a dearth of good literature out there for the youngest readers. I can’t quite imagine how hard a shift it must be for a child who has grown up with a grandparent as a teacher and guide and then slowly, slowly, Grandma can’t do what she used to do.  

From a kid’s perspective, it makes no sense and it seems unfair. [Their] favorite complaint - “It’s not fair!” and they are correct. It truly is not fair, but it is life.  

I want to help kids make the transition from anger to compassion, which is what we all need to do as the ones we love age. 

Q: How have readers responded to Sadie and Ori and the Blue Blanket?

A: Parents have told us that they find the book empowering for their children. Children are sometimes mystified by the declining abilities of their grandparents. The line from this book, “Why can’t Grandma play on the floor with us like she used to?” is a very real and accurate reaction.  

Kids often get angry that Grandma or Grandpa are not as strong as the used to be. This book teaches kids about the natural cycles of aging and empowers them to step up and become the caregivers. 

Q: Did you know from the beginning that you would be writing a series about Sadie, or did that idea come to you later? 

A: No, it just sort of happened.

Q:  Who do you see as the readership for the Sadie and Ori books?

A: The book is written for preschoolers and emerging readers. However, I often read them to older groups because who doesn’t love a good picture book?

On our Adventure Rabbi Rosh Hashanah retreat, I read a draft of a book I am working on, How Sadie Saved Rosh Hashanah (not yet set for publication), to 350 people, with very few preschoolers in the crowd. They loved it! 

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: My next book is a hilarious story called Sadie’s Snowy Tu B’Shevat. Once again, clever Sadie and Ori figure out a whimsical solution to a problem. What happens when you live in a part of the country where it is too snowy to plant a tree on Tu B’Shevat?

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: A few weeks ago I walked into my living room and my daughter Ori was sitting on the coach with my mom, who has Alzheimer's. Ori was reading Sadie and Ori and the Blue Blanket to her grandmother. You can imagine my tears and smiles.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. For a previous Q&A with Jamie Korngold, please click here. She will be participating in The Lessans Family Annual Book Festival at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, which runs from Nov. 3-13, 2016.