Interview with Ann D. Koffsky, author of PING-PONG SHABBAT

Ann Koffksy’s nonfiction picture book PING-PONG SHABBAT: THE TRUE STORY OF CHAMPION ESTEE ACKERMAN (Little Bee Books, 2024), illustrated by Abigail Rajunov tells the story of Estee Ackerman, a talented young Ping-Pong champion. When a big competition that could earn her a gold medal is scheduled on Shabbat, Estee must make an important decision that will have a lasting impact. The illustrations in PING-PONG SHABBAT are colorful and filled with fun sounds that keep the action moving on the page. I am excited to learn more about Estee and her story.

Welcome back, Ann!

Where did you first learn about Estee Ackerman’s story and what inspired you to write about it?

Estee lives in my neighborhood, so she was our local hero! I heard about her story from friends, and in our local little Jewish newspapers, when it happened. We were all so proud of her! And still are. I think I realized it would be a great kid’s book when I saw a couple of picture books about Sandy Koufax, and his refusal to play on Yom Kippur. It clicked in my head—oh, Koufax! Ackerman! Perfect.

Ann Koffksy

Did you connect with Estee while writing PING-PONG SHABBAT?

Yes! I called her up and interviewed her several times, so that I would make sure to get the facts straight, and honor her experience. She was so patient and generous with her time. I really appreciated it.

What were your thoughts when you first saw Abigail Rajunov’s illustrations?

Kapow! I loved their energy. She did a fantastic job.

What do you hope readers take away from Estee’s story?

Like Estee says in her note at the end, I hope this story inspires them to DREAM BIG! And to have the confidence to stand up for what’s truly important to them.

Thanks, Ann!

Ann Diament Koffsky is the author and/or illustrator of more than fifty books for kids including the Kayla and Kugel series, The Three Little Sheep, and Different Kinds of Minds with Temple Grandin. Shabbat is definitely her favorite day of the week. Occasionally, Ann enjoys picking up a paddle and playing pickleball . . . but she’s nowhere near as good as Estee! Find out more at

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