October 26

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Cover Reveal: Sarah’s Solo by Tracy Brown, illustrated by Paula Wegman

My new book Sarah’s Solo is about the unexpected joy found in the midst of disappointment.  In the story, Sarah’s parents make a difficult choice for their busy family.  They decide that everyone will attend a family wedding rather than their daughter’s dance recital. As parents, we have all experienced our children’s disappointment at being asked to miss an important game or party in order to be part of, for example, a grandparent’s birthday, a religious ceremony, or a sibling’s graduation.  But in the end, there was always a lesson to be learned—that there is joy in forsaking themselves for another.  

At the wedding, Sarah is initially fidgety and disengaged, but as she begins to experience the beauty of her family’s Jewish wedding traditions, her interest is piqued.  From the haunting melody of the prayers, to the choreographed movements of the bride and groom, Sarah is entranced.  After the ceremony, the klezmer band begins to play “Hava Nagila,” the Israeli folksong, which is a favorite at Jewish weddings.  The guests dance the celebratory hora, holding hands and circling around the newlyweds. At first, Sarah refuses to join in the dance.  These are not the elegant ballet steps that she is familiar with.  Finally, the bride pulls Sarah into the circle.  Sarah ultimately gets lost in the music, finding delight in the celebration, and performing her solo after all— albeit in a different way.

In writing this book, I wanted children to see the value of celebrating cultural and family events. While Sarah is understandably let down when she can’t perform the solo at her dance recital, she does the right thing by showing up for her cousin.  Judaism puts a high value on joyously celebrating lifecycle events like weddings and bar mitzvahs, Shabbat, and holidays, and that is what Sarah ultimately does.  Every Jewish child has been told the story of the Dodgers baseball player Sandy Koufax who famously chose not to play in Game 1 of the World Series in 1965 when it fell on Yom Kippur.  If Koufax could miss a World Series game, we tell our children, surely you can miss your t-ball game.  My own kids have missed countless soccer and softball games, cheer meets, and the like to attend synagogue for the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to celebrate a friend’s bar or bat mitzvah, and to observe the Jewish Shabbat—it was tradition in our home to stay in on Friday nights to light candles, eat challah, and have family dinner.  

Those Shabbat dinners, always a joyous occasion in the early years, became the source of strife when my children were in high school and would rather have gone to football games and sleepovers.  It’s not easy being the one missing out, so we encouraged the kids to invite their friends—old and new, Jewish or non-Jewish—to share our tradition with them.  By the end of high school, Shabbat for my children, like the wedding for Sarah, became a source of happiness rather than suffering.

I am thrilled to share the cover art for Sarah’s Solo on Nerdy Book Club.  I hope that all children who read Sarah’s Solo will experience delight alongside Sarah as she celebrates her cousin’s wedding and find the joy of missing out in their own lives as they opt in for family and cultural celebrations.  

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! One winner will receive a copy of Sarah’s Solo. Raffle ends on November 6, 2020.

Photo by Shane Macomber

Tracy Brown splits her time between Charlotte, NC and Vail, CO with her husband Larry. She has three children who live scattered across the country. Tracy currently sits on the Executive Board of the Jewish Book Council and has served as the chair of the Children’s Literature Panel for the past seven years. Sarah’s Solo is her debut picture book. You can find Tracy online on Twitter, Instagram, and at tracybrownwriter.com/.

Paula Wegman is an illustrator, graphic designer, and teacher based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is also a columnist at a radio show, which focuses on issues within the design and architecture fields in Latin America. You can find Paula online at Instagram and wegmanstudio.com.

Sarah’s Solo will be published on March 2, 2021 by Kalaniot Books, an imprint of Endless Mountains Publishing. To learn more about this book and other great books for Jewish kids, go to Kalaniotbooks.com.

At Kalaniot Books, our mission is to help parents expose their children to the rich mosaic of Jewish culture and history. Through our list of exciting and engaging picture books, we hope to entertain, instill pride in, and demonstrate the diversity of this truly dynamic community. Our imprint’s name is inspired by the fragile wild poppies, or “kalaniot” that bloom on the hillsides of Israel in the spring. With careful planning and cultivation, these beautiful flowers have continued to flourish from generation to generation. It is our hope that these books become a tool for families to explore this vibrant culture. In this way, from generation to generation, Jewish culture will continue to flourish as well.