Janice Hechter is the author/illustrator of ADVENTURE GIRL – DABI DIGS IN ISRAEL (Alazar Press). Young readers will follow Dabi as she joins her aunt on the ultimate field trip – an archeological dig in Israel. ADVENTURE GIRL will surely spark interest in experiences that are unique to Israel. Did you know there are archeological sites that kids can explore? I was curious to learn more, too!
I was fortunate to meet Janice at the TENT Program at the Yiddish Book Center and I am delighted to celebrate her new book.
What inspired you to write ADVENTURE GIRL? Is Dabi based on a real person?
I had been attending a lot of lectures on archaeological digs and discoveries in Israel and remembered how much I enjoyed learning about archaeology when I was a kid. Then I read about a child in Israel who had made an important archaeological discovery and had been presented with a certificate of good citizenship. Although Dabi sprung from my imagination, she does share some commonalities with real-life people.
I love that kids can be archeologists in Israel. Can you tell me a little more about that? Have you ever had this experience?
Going on an archeological dig is an activity that people of all ages can appreciate, so it’s a great family activity. It’s not only hands-on, tactile and interactive, all of which are things children adore, but it provides kids with the ultimate treasure hunt. It’s putting clues together to solve a mystery, while enabling a glimpse into a culture from long ago. One is literally digging up history from the earth. When Dabi makes her discovery, she touches something a kid her age wore thousands of years ago and feels a connection to a child from ancient times. It’s messy and it’s hard work, but Dabi is always up for the challenge of a good adventure. The 35,000 archaeological sites in Israel make it the perfect place to uncover the past.
I was actually planning a trip to Israel and looking forward to my own archaeological dig when Covid struck.
Even fiction requires research. What research did you do for ADVENTURE GIRL?
I did a lot of research into various archeological sites in Israel and discovered which ones were best for children to explore. After many fruitless trials I finally got in touch with the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who provided me with a photo of a certificate of good citizenship.
I searched for reference photos and consulted with an archaeologist in order to authentically depict archeological tools, equipment, and dig sites. I looked up the translations from English for the Hebrew words sprinkled throughout the book.
Your illustrations have a realistic portrait quality. How did you decide what style your art would have in this book?
My style is realistic and I think it works well for this story, which although fiction, is based on reality. The portrayals of Dabi and the other characters in the book are very plausible. I appreciate your mention of a “portrait quality” to my illustrations. I have been drawing portraits of people willing to sit still for me since I was a very young child. I have spent many years painting quick portraits of live models to perfect my skills. I continue to enjoy capturing the expressions and personalities of the people I draw and paint.
Learn more about Janice and her work here: www.janicehechter.com