Apr 19, 2012

Get to Know Heidi Smith Hyde

Get to know Heidi Smith Hyde, a Kar-Ben author whose books offer a slice of the Jewish experience in America. Favorites like Mendel's Accordion and Feivel's Flying Horses show the immigrant experience in America, as does Heidi's forthcoming (Fall 2012) book, Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue, a Hanukkah story about a boy in a new England whaling town.

We're not the only people who have recognized the historical value of Heidi's work. Recently, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History featured Feivel's Flying Horses as the centerpiece of an OurStory Program. Download the Reading Guide created by the Smithsonian's Education department.   
Kar-Ben: What was your favorite book when you were a child?  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, 1958

Kar-Ben: Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Stefan Zweig
William Trevor

Kar-Ben: Why did you want to become an author?For me it was never a choice, but something I was compelled to do.

 Kar-Ben: Do you have any advice for future authors? 
Never compare yourself with other writers or try to emulate their style. Just find your own authentic voice and let your imagination do the rest.

Kar-Ben: Where did you get the inspiration for your upcoming Kar-Ben book, Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue?I was inspired by an article which once appeared in Hadassah magazine. The article told of the Jewish involvement in the New England whaling industry during the eighteenth century. I find it simply fascinating that our ancestors were involved in the whaling business.

Kar-Ben: What are you most excited about promoting in your new book?
I look forward to sharing this little known piece of history with children as well as their parents.

Kar-Ben: What is the most interesting thing you learned in the process of writing or illustrating your book?
I learned that at one time, Jews served as merchants in places like New Bedford, Massachusetts, providing sea captains with necessary provisions such as oilskins, waterproof boots and barrels.

Kar-Ben: How do you hope your book will impact the Jewish life of a child?
Through literature we delve into the Jewish past, connect with the Jewish present, and inform our ability to shape the Jewish future. It is my hope that our readers are given the tools to help them make these valuable connections.

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