Interviews

Where’s the Potty on this Ark? Welcome, Kerry Olitzky

Kerry Olitzky has served in many leadership roles in Jewish Education. He is also the author of several books about Jewish spirituality. His first children’s book, WHERE’S THE POTTY ON THIS ARK? (Kar-Ben) is a charming picture book that is sure to please the youngest readers and their parents. Both clever and sweet, animals on the ark learn to adapt to their environment, including using potties created just for them! Abigail Thompson’s illustrations are a perfect pairing for the playful prose. 

You have written numerous books about Judaism. Tell me a bit about what inspired you to write WHERE’S THE POTTY ON THIS ARK?

In short, the blessing of seven grandchildren, the last one of whom is starting potty training, inspired me to write this book. I realized that there was nothing in the children’s picture book space that was a “Jewish potty training book.” Thus, this book filled that niche.

Kerry Olitzky

In the book, all the animals on the ark are lovingly guided to their “potty” spots. Was it your intention for the book to be used by parents who are training their little ones?

My intention was exactly that. I wanted parents to read and reread the book to their children (or grandparents to their grandchildren) as part of their potty training. Moreover, the Noah’s Ark story had always held a special place in my heart. And when our children were young, we started collecting Noah’s Arks-a hobby that has continued to this day. But none of them have potties on them!

What were your thoughts when you first saw the illustrations by Abigail Thompson?  

My editor at Kar Ben, Joni Sussman, invited Abigail to illustrate the book. I immediately loved her visual interpretation of the word pictures I had painted.

As a Jewish educator, what do you see as the role picture books play for young readers and their families?

Even with the growth of e-book readers, picture books (and even more significantly the context in which they are read) are extremely important tools for helping to shape a strong and resilient Jewish identity. They build relationships and memories. For me, memories are the stuff out of which good Jewish education is made.

Thank you, Kerry!

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