Ann Koffsky, author and illustrator of the ever-popular “Kayla and Kugel” book series, will be our guest on Sunday, December 5 11 a.m. She will be Zooming right into your homes so your PJs are entirely appropriate.
Koffsky will tell the story of Hanukkah through the eyes of Kayla and her mischievous pet puppy, Kugel. Kayla and Kugel have been the main actors in two previous books about Shabbat and Passover, but Ann’s lively, rich illustrations have been center stage in other works as well, several of which have been PJ Library selections. “Noah’s Swimathon” garnered a Sydney Taylor notable designation from the Association of Jewish Libraries.
Koffsky, the daughter of a rabbi, grew up sitting next to her dad on the bima (stage) in shul (synagogue), so her Jewish roots run deep.
What was her impetus for writing children’s books? “As an artist, I have always loved storytelling that combines words and pictures,” she said. “As a kid I loved picture books and then comic books, since they both do that.”
She said that those who inspired her to become an illustrator and artist are too many to count, but those who stood out were authors Eric Kimmel and David Weisner and the books “Harold and the Purple Crayon” and “Make Way for Ducklings,” plus “Every story I’ve seen told in pictures that make me smile.”
The specific idea for the Kayla and Kugel series came from her own neighborhood, where Koffsky noticed a lot of dogs that were named after foods like Peach and Oreo and Hummus.
“So I thought I should do a book about a Jewish dog named after a Jewish food.”
Thus Kugel came to be, a dog named after a yummy noodle pudding. As to where Kayla and Kugel may go next, she said she’s not sure, but “I am open to suggestions from my readers.” Right now she is working on some nonfiction picture books that tell amazing stories from recent Jewish history.
Koffsky was previously an editor and art director at Behrman House Publishers and an adjunct professor of art at Stern College for Women. She lives in West Hempstead, New York, with her husband and three children.
We are very excited to bring Koffsky to our community as part of our Hanukkah celebration. Those who sign up for her Storytime on Dec. 1 will receive a personally signed copy of her book. Reservations may be made at the Jewish Federation website.
To receive her free Jewish coloring pages, visit her website at www.annkoffsky.com.
Debby Singer is the PJ Library and PJ Our Way Program Director and a contributing writer to Kiddish magazine.