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Authors of “Hanukkah Veronica” focus on guide forward of Guide Fest studying

Wendy Brant and Julie Anne Cooper met by means of their jobs in the actual property business in 2019, however they bonded over a shared want to write down youngsters’s books. Inspiration struck for his or her debut collaboration, Hanukkah Veronica: The Mitzvah Fairy (Lanier Press, 38 pages), when Cooper shared a narrative about her daughter, Lucy, with Brant. 

A number of years prior, Lucy got here house from faculty crying as a result of everybody in her class had a vacation companion whereas there have been no particular characters for Jewish youngsters in anticipation of Hanukkah. Not wanting her daughter to really feel disregarded, Cooper gathered supplies from her craft room, created a gentle doll named Hanukkah Veronica the Mitzvah Fairy — who carried out mitzvahs or acts of kindness — and introduced the reward to Lucy the next morning. 

“Lucy was thrilled that she had one thing distinctive and particular,” says Cooper. “That yr she shared Hanukkah Veronica along with her class and taught all of them about Hanukkah and what a mitzvah was all about.”

Upon listening to Cooper’s story, Brant imagined limitless potentialities — from a guide to an opulent doll to the celebration of cultures around the globe — and the Bonta Buddies guide sequence was born.

Prematurely of their studying on the Guide Pageant of the Marcus Jewish Neighborhood Middle of Atlanta this Sunday at midday, the 2 Atlanta space authors shared their ideas on their mission as storytellers, encouraging cross-cultural curiosity in youngsters, and the reward of kindness.  

“Hanukkah Veronica”ArtsATL: Writing a guide for youngsters is deceptively easy. As first-time authors, what was your mission? 

Wendy Brant: This venture began in 2020, a unstable time when youngsters had pictures of anger and animosity from each nook. Covid and riots consumed the information and social media. There have been these in my life who appeared to have misplaced all hope. I’d inform my youngsters this was not actual, that this was merely a story that bought tickets at a second of nice stress because of the pandemic. I assured my youngsters that most individuals are type, that most individuals embrace different cultures. As well as, I advised them that even with all its issues, the world itself, our planet, is an extremely stunning place. A marvel.

ArtsATL: Giovanni Lombardi, who illustrated the guide, lives in Turin, Italy. How did your collaboration with him occur? 

Brant: I knew we needed to discover somebody good to carry this character to life. I searched on-line and ultimately I used to be drawn to Giovanni’s distinctive type. Julie Anne, my coauthor, is a superb watercolor artist and has an distinctive eye for colour and design. It was the mixture of Julie Anne’s expertise and Giovanni’s understanding of the message that finally led to the illustrations you see in the present day. 

The phrase “Bonta” means kindness in Italian. I chosen that title for the corporate to honor his contributions to the venture and spotlight my gratitude to our unimaginable Italian artist. 

ArtsATL: Hanukkah Veronica is the primary in a sequence of 5 books for youngsters. What characters and tales can readers count on going ahead? 

Brant: Bonta Buddies intends to rejoice holidays and traditions from around the globe. The primary 5 characters are Hanukkah Veronica, Halloween Hannah, Christmas Chloe, Kwanzaa Keisha and Diwali Deepa, with many extra to come back. Each character shares a message of kindness, and they’re all greatest pals. As seen in our subsequent guide, Halloween Hannah, which takes place within the land of Bonta, each character celebrates with each other, and so they take pleasure in studying about one another’s cultures.  

“Hanukkah Veronica”ArtsATL: Encouraging youngsters to be curious in regards to the range of vacation traditions is a noble aim. Will you search steering from specialists to reinforce your cultural sensitivity?  

Brant: We work very diligently to make sure our tales painting every vacation and tradition precisely and respectfully. Because of this dedication, every guide is written together with an skilled advisor from that tradition.  

At the back of every guide, there’s a historical past part which explains the origin of the vacation and the that means behind the normal symbols. Hanukkah Veronica was written with the assistance of Rabbi Levi Mentz from the Forsyth County Chabad, and we’re so grateful for his help and assist. For Halloween Hannah, we’re honored to be working with Halloween writer Lesley Bannatyne. 

ArtsATL: What have you ever realized within the course of?  

Julie Anne Cooper: The historic analysis has been fascinating. Most of us have no idea the origins of many widespread traditions and many of the info shared within the guide doesn’t appear to be widespread information. For instance, do you know that over 60 years in the past, youngsters started to boost cash for the United Nations Worldwide Youngsters’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) whereas trick-or-treating? It was so profitable that, in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson named October 31, Nationwide UNICEF Day.

ArtsATL: The unchecked merchandizing and materialism which have change into synonymous with Christmas are an unlucky distraction from the importance of the vacation. Did you’ve gotten any reservations about introducing a personality who comes bearing items for youngsters throughout Hanukkah?  

Cooper: Hanukkah Veronica performs mitzvahs within the guide; nonetheless, it’s not at all times a present. Usually it’s a candy observe, or a easy gesture such because the shock of a recent baked cookie or serving to an elder neighbor with their trash cans. She could carry a present for the household to share, however the message behind the character shouldn’t be one in every of greed or materialism. It’s all about displaying kindness to those that you see every single day.


Gail O’Neill is an ArtsATL editor-at-large. She hosts and coproduces Collective Information, a conversational sequence that’s broadcast on THEA Community, and continuously moderates writer talks for the Atlanta Historical past Middle.



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