Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2021.
Publication of my debut PB biography, “Hannah G. Solomon Dared to Make a Difference”
Planned and mostly executed a marketing campaign that worked until the 3 months around our move from Sept. – November 2021.
NCJW-SF leadership helping me market the book.
Completing Laura Margolis: Saving Shanghai’s Refugees graphic novel
Completing Laura Margolis: Saving Shanghai’s Refugees picture book
Developing four successful zoom presentations for Hannah G. Solomon book.
My first long presentation, about 40 minutes to an adult audience on zoom attending a program sponsored by the Jewish Community Library of San Francisco and the National Council of Jewish Women-SF.
I shared information about how picture books are created and published, along with the characteristics of good picture books. The major part of the presentation was sharing most of the story about Hannah G. Solomon and the gorgeous illustrations by Sofia Moore. Dr. Antonia Lavine, the executive director of the NCJW-SF, followed me with an informative update of the types of projects the NCJW carries out, especially here in the SF Bay Area.
Very gratifying to receive many positive comments!
The Association of Jewish Libraries hosted a fall showcase of 2021 children’s book authors on November 9, 2021. About 30 authors were featured, and I was one of two debut authors. Some of the presenters are well published, such as the Baby Loves Science board book series by Ruth Spiro.
The South Bay section of my professional association, Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) hosted a book launch presentation for new fall 2021 authors on Oct 24, 2021. For this presentation, each author had 8 minutes to talk about his/her book. I enjoyed hearing about other YA and MG books, particularly a chapter book by Kate Moore, “Elinormal.” In addition to getting experience making these presentations, I’m keeping a list of books I want to buy and read!
The JC is described as “the world’s oldest and most influential Jewish newspaper…”(UK). Here’s an excerpt from the review: “…Hannah G. Solomon, the founder of the National Council of Jewish Women, is unlikely to be familiar to UK readers, but her life story is simply and informatively told by Bonnie Lindauer in “Hannah G. Solomon Dared to Make a Difference.(Kar-Ben)… (8 October 2021 Jewish Chronicle, Children’s Books column)
The most in-depth review I’ve received is from a very thoughtful librarian, Beth L. Gallego, who reviews for a blog from the Association of Jewish Libraries.
Here’s the link to the full review and an extract: “…Lindauer packs many of Solomon’s achievements into clear, concise paragraphs infused with admiration and respect for her subject. While no citations are given for quotations within the text, they are presumably from Solomon’s autobiography, which Lindauer notes was a primary source in her research. The back matter includes an author’s note, photographs of Solomon and Hull House, and a timeline. Moore’s dynamic illustrations use bright color and line to create a layered effect…”
“…This accessible picture-book biography introduces a lesser-known social reformer who founded the National Council of Jewish Women, which “worked to help people around the country.” Moore’s stylish illustrations evoke the era and reflect Solomon’s energy and purpose…”
“…As Lindauer clearly explains, this environment places Solomon on the path to involvement with the conference, where she gathers “America’s outstanding Jewish women” to discuss education and liberty, and forms the National Council of Jewish Women. Moore’s distinctive illustrations have a nostalgic, multilayered quality, overlaying patterns and textures with a fine-lined, majority light-skinned cast and watercolor-and-ink spreads…”
History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults. She included this interview on her blog “The Whole Megillah.” (Excerpts, below.
The Whole Megillah (TWM): Welcome, Bonnie Lindauer and Sofia Moore! Bonnie, let’s start with you. What inspired you to write about Hannah G. Solomon? Bonnie Lindauer (BL): As a member of the San Francisco section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), I’ve attended over several years the awards luncheon and listened to the accomplishments recited for each year’s winner of the Hannah G. Solomon award. The service to their communities that these women provide is truly amazing. I am so impressed by how the NCJW promotes and supports the social justice work that it does. Also, after I read a history of our SF section, I became more and more interested in the life of our founder, Hannah G. Solomon.
TWM: What were your greatest challenges in writing this book? BL: The greatest challenge for me was having too much information about Hannah’s life and having to find ways to present only the most salient parts for children. I revised the manuscript at least seven times, each time cutting out sections and reorganizing it.
TWM: What were your greatest satisfactions? BL: I suppose the greatest of all was having the manuscript accepted by Joni Sussman of Kar-Ben Publishing. But my elation about having it accepted soon faced the reality of still needing to do a bit more revising. Tied for the greatest satisfaction was seeing how the manuscript came to life with the sketches, and later, stunning illustrations by Sofia Moore. Finally, I continue to get satisfaction from readers who tell me they so enjoy the book, especially my NCJW colleagues who are so happy to finally have a book published about their founder. Now, the way is paved for someone to write an adult biography of Hannah G. Solomon.
TWM: Please describe your research process. BL: As a retired academic research librarian, I’m sometimes disadvantaged by researching and collecting too much information. For this book, I was so fortunate to find her autobiography freely available on the web. Her autobiography is very detailed and gave me a sense of her personality and motivation. I highlighted sections of it that I knew I wanted to have in my book and took notes. I’m aware that sometimes a person writing an autobiography much later in life (she wrote it when she was 85), may not recall as precisely, or may have a different perspective on an earlier period, so I consulted other sources, primarily from the Jewish Women’s Archive and several magazine articles about her. I also researched the history of Chicago during the period she lived and was most active. I recall how helpful was a source I found about what it was like for immigrants living in the shoddy, poor section of Chicago where Hannah and other women from NCJW provided services. I was somewhat disappointed that the editorial staff at Kar-Ben did not include my selected list of sources in the back matter…
TWM: Thanks so much, Bonnie! Now, let’s turn to illustrator Sofia Moore. What strategies did you use to translate Bonnie’s text to illustration?
Sofia Moore (SM): Because this book is a biography I wanted the illustrations look as a continuation of the narrative with the ability to show important historical details. The research part was the most fun for me, I loved looking for the period fashion, architecture and details of Hanna’s everyday life. Bonnie did a great job pacing the story the way it was easy for me to start imagining how the images would follow the text and what should be in focus on each page.
TWM: What medium did you use?
SM: I painted on paper using ink and acrylic paints and then finished in Photoshop, adding small details and adjusting colors.
TWM: Please describe your research process.
SM: I created a Pinterest board where I collected images of late 1800s Chicago, architecture, clothing details, photographs of immigrant families of that time. Great source of
information came from Hannah’s autobiography, The Fabric of My Life, that I found online and gave me so many ideas of how to illustrate Hannah for children. Her big loving family,
passion to help other people, her strong leadership nature was great inspiration.
Twelve-year-old Sofia Lavine wrote this review of “Hannah G. Solomon Dared to Make a Difference” :
“I was deeply inspired by the Hannah G Solomon Dared to make difference book by Bonnie Lindauer and Sofia Moore!
Reading the book made me believe that anything is possible, and change is something anyone can do. Hannah G. Solomon, being the main character, is such a great inspiration for people all around the world, especially for young girls like me. This world is not always on its brightest side. Women like Hannah, change that.
How this book was illustrated vividly showed fascinating moments of courage and action that I did not think were possible. Not only was this book inspiring, but it was also entertaining! The illustrations perfectly matched the words. Reading the book, I could easily follow the story line and just wanted to know what was going to happen next. I was amazed how with very few words the writer was able to present so much detail.
In addition, this book truly shows that women are not just to sit down and look pretty but are great individuals with the potential to change the world and make it the best it can be. It made me think of all great women in my life and appreciate them even more.
This book is perfect for all age divisions because it tells both kids and adults how much you can do to change the world if you are brave and have passion for justice. I think that the book should be taught and appreciated for its morals and inspiring stories.
This book is one of the best picture books I have ever read. For the people who have not read it yet, please do so. You will feel enriched and inspired to better the world.
Thank you, Bonnie Lindauer and Sofia Moore, for your great book! This will be a book I will never forget!