Laura Gehl is a very busy author. She has just released two picture books and I’m so excited to chat with her about both of them. In addition to her books, Laura has four kids ages 4, 6, 8, and 10. No doubt they provide lots of inspiration. Laura loves walking, running, skiing, reading, traveling, and eating chocolate. She also loves lima beans and Brussels sprouts and doesn’t know why those two foods get such a bad rap!
You have two new books coming out – HARE AND TORTOISE RACE ACROSS ISRAEL and AND THEN ANOTHER SHEEP TURNED UP. Can you tell me a bit about each one ?
HARE AND TORTOISE RACE ACROSS ISRAEL is a retelling of Aesop’s fable, except that in my version Hare and Tortoise are friends who race from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea, munching tasty food along the way. (All of my books seem to have food in them. I guess I’m always hungry when I write!)
AND THEN ANOTHER SHEEP TURNS UP is the story of a typical Jewish sheep family celebrating the holiday of Passover. Mama, Papa, Hannah, and Noah are all set for their small seder when another sheep turns up. And then another. And then another…You get the idea.
What was the inspiration for each title ?
When one of my sons was in preschool, his class read a book called HARE AND TORTOISE RACE TO THE MOON. That story bounced around in my head along with my desire to write a book about Israel that focused on cultural, geographical, and culinary highlights. Soon, HARE AND TORTOISE RACE ACROSS ISRAEL was born.
The phrase “AND THEN ANOTHER SHEEP TURNED UP” just popped into my head one night. I scribbled the words on one of the post-it notes I keep by my bed. A few weeks later, I came back to those scribbled words. Since the idea of more and more sheep arriving for Passover made me laugh, I knew it would make kids laugh too.
What were your thoughts when you first saw the illustrations ?
Having an artist bring your words to life through pictures is so much fun. In this case, Sarah’s illustrations for HARE AND TORTOISE were in a style completely different from anything I had imagined…and absolutely perfect for the story and setting. Amy’s illustrations for AND THEN ANOTHER SHEEP TURNED UP were closer to what I had envisioned, but she took the liberty of giving the sheep family two pets—a cat and a dog. I loved that little touch!
What’s the best part about being an author of children’s books ?
There are so many parts of this job that make me feel grateful. Seeing a book in finished form for the first time. Hearing from parents who love reading my books with their kids. Reading the stories that kids write after I visit their schools. But the very best part might be when I finish reading one of my books to a group of kids and they immediately ask me to read it “Again! Again!”
What was your favorite childhood book ?
I have about a hundred favorite childhood books. Today I will say SNOW TREASURE by Marie McSwigan, because I just bought that one to share with my own kids (who are home from school due to snow again, with more snow predicted for tomorrow).
Thanks, Laura! Wishing you much success with your books.
Learn more about Laura at www.lauragehl.com