Today is the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the holiday of the trees. 

 Trees have always felt like miracles to me. The way they grow tall and strong. The way their flowers bloom and their leaves change. The way fruit forms on their branches. The way they come to life again and burst into vibrant color every spring.

 Of all trees, I have my favorites. 

 They are the cherry trees in the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC 

 These special trees were a gift from the government of Japan in 1912. There are currently about 4,000 trees and I am not their only fan. Usually more than a million people visit the blossoms every year. There is the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a parade, a kite festival, and so much more. There is even a cherry blossom cam!  It is an enormous celebration.

 These beautiful, glorious trees were one of the main reasons I wanted to locate my book The Passover Guest in Washington DC. My editor and I had decided to set the book during the Great Depression, and as it turned out, in the year 1933 the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms coincided with the first night of Passover. What better way to celebrate spring than with the beauty of these glorious trees.

 There are a few special books I use every Tu B’Shevat that I’d love to recommend to you:

 Happy Birthday, Tree! A Tu’Shevat Story by Madelyn Rosenberg, illustrated by Jana Christy, published by Albert Whitman.

 Netta and Her Plant by Ellie Gellman, illustrated by Natascia Ugliano, published by Kar-Ben.

 Maple written and illustrated by Lori Nichols, published by Penguin. (Not Tu’Bshevat specific but one of my favorite tree books.)

 And speaking of trees and miracles, I am very excited about a forthcoming book, This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth. It is written and illustrated by Sean Rubin, the illustrator of The Passover Guest and is being published May 4 from Henry Holt. A truly beautiful book. 

 Wishing you a spring of miracles and trees. 

Hello, January 19, 2021.

I’ve been waiting for you for so long.

Today is the publication date of my book The Passover Guest. And not just any book. My first book. Ever. It’s safe to say I thought today would never arrive.

And yet here we are. I have an honest-to-goodness hardcover book sitting in front of me with my name on the cover. This book is everything I ever dreamed of during the nearly ten year journey to get it published.

But the experience of launching the book has been very different from what I expected.

Having been a bookseller and a librarian for fifteen years, I was pretty sure I knew how this was all going to go. I knew which stores I wanted to visit and which conferences I wanted to attend. I had it all planned out years in advance.

Life catches us by surprise sometimes, as we’ve all found out during this pandemic and I adjusted as everything went virtual. The initial disappointment about not being able to see old friends and visit the bookstores of colleagues turned into an understanding of how this moment could still be celebrated and savored.

Please join me at one of my virtual events!

I have learned so much from my friends in the Soaring ‘20s picture book debut group, every one of whom has launched or promoted their book during the pandemic, something none of us were expecting. I have also discovered the joy of having friends and family from all over the country come to my book events. It has been delightful to be able to visit more stores and synagogues than I would usually be able to because of location restraints. And I can speak at events and conferences located in various places without having to travel.

In the end, it’s not about the launch and whether it was what I planned it to be.

Such an amazing thrill to read the book I wrote to my son for the first time.

Because today it all changes from a draft in a notebook, a manuscript on a computer, pencil drawings and color proofs into an actual real book that adults will read to children, and maybe children will even read to themselves.

And it turns out, that’s the only thing that’s important.

I’m so happy this book is out in the world. I hope you get a chance to read it and share it with a child. That’s all I could ever ask for.