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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Welcome Ann Koffsky

Ann Koffsky has illustrated and authored over 20 books for children, including Eight Lights for Eight Nights (Barron’s Educational Series), and My Cousin Tamar Lives in Israel (URJ Press) which was given a Notable Book designation by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

Ann enjoys creating products of all kinds, and has designed everything from toys to calendars to formal Ketubot. Many greeting card companies have featured Ann's work. She works in two styles: Bold, graphic papercuts, and whimsical inviting paintings. I have been an admirer of Ann's work for many years. I was excited to discuss her newest book which she wrote and illustrated, Noah's Swim-a-Thon(URJ Press).

Tell me about your inspiration for Noah's Swim-a-Thon.
For the past decade, I have worked as a lifeguard at Ruach Day Camp on long island. My main character, Noah, is directly inspired by the the kids that I taught to swim there .

As an author/illustrator do you think in words or pictures?
Since I began my career as an illustrator, the visual is always a high priority for me. But it's difficult to separate one from the other--when I am writing words, I will often create a rough sketch of the books layout, to help me plan the pacing and plot of a story. But as an illustrator, you can't really start drawing until you have a concept and words to work they really go hand in hand.

How different is the creative process when you are the illustrator of someone else's story versus being both author and illustrator?
Control- I control the vertical, I control the horizontal! What that really means is that when the entire project is my own, I can work the pictures around the text, and the text around the pictures. For example, if t if I am illlustrating my own story, and I find that the picture I draw eliminates the need for a couple of descriptive sentences because the picture is description enough , I can cut the sentences. If it's someone else's text/ baby, then the text is more frozen and I have to work the pictures to fit the text, not the reverse. I really enjoy both ways of working because it's great having someone elses ideas to inspire me and it's fun to come with my own ideas, too.

As an illustrator there are a variety of techniques that you use from painting to paper cutting. Do you have a favorite medium?
Nope. That's like choosing which is favorite child! Each of my styles has it's own special qualities that make them ideal for different projects.

What is your favorite holiday?
I love Purim! It's such a fun holiday, with lots of character and joy. I also love it because the mitzvot of the holiday invite creativity-- from designing your own costume, or crafting a special Mishloach manot.

If you would like to see some of Ann's wonderful artwork and learn more about her, please visit

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Thank you, Montreal!

The Association of Jewish Libraries held their convention in Montreal. What a wonderful city! The Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee had the opportunity to share some of our favorite books of the year and present this year's winners with their awards, including Howard Schwartz and Kristina Swarner for Gathering Sparks, Barry Deutsch for Hereville, and Dana Reinhardt for The Things a Brother Knows. We were honored to have Jo Taylor Marshall, the daughter of Sydney Taylor, join us for the celebration. She is pictured above with the committee.

Check out the AJL Blog for more information:

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