Apr 25, 2013

Meet "Thank You, Trees! Author" Marilyn Gootman

It is amazing just how much can be conveyed in a space as small as a 12 page board book, but an author with the educational background that Marilyn Gootman has can select each word thoughtfully and deliberately and make it truly count.

Marilyn Gootman’s most recent book Thank You, Trees! (written in collaboration with Gail Langer Karwoski and illustrated by Kristen Balouch) does just that, sharing messages about Judaism, the environment and multiculturalism through the interplay of very few words and images. The New York Times wrote of Thank You, Trees!: "This charming celebration of Tu B’Shevat marries Jewish tradition with contemporary environmentalism in a celebration of trees, reflecting the way the winter holiday is celebrated today in much of Israel.” That is a lot for 12 pages!

Marilyn Gootman and Gail Langer Karwoski
Marilyn E. Gootman, has been the "pied piper" of young Jewish families in Athens, Georgia since 2007 - when she founded the PJ Library Program for the Congregation Children of Israel.  Over her 35-year plus career in general education as well as Jewish education, Dr. Gootman has taught children, university students, educators, camp counselors, and parents. Besides writing books for children, Dr. Gootman has written The Loving Parent’s Guide to Discipline (Berkley Publishing, 1995, 2000); When a Friend Dies, A Book for Teens About Grieving and Healing (Free Spirit Publishing, 1994, 2005), and The Caring Teacher’s Guide to Discipline (Corwin Press 1997, 2001, 2008).

What was your favorite book when you were a child? 
I loved the story Heidi and found it very exciting when on my travels I visited the part of Switzerland where she lived and saw the lovely fields of flowers.

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators? 
I think Walter Isaacson is a brilliant biographer and really captures people at their essence.  I particularly enjoyed his biography of Einstein.

Robert McCloskey’s charming story about ducklings in the Boston Public Gardens Make Way for the Ducklings is one of my favorites.  I loved that book as a child and so do my grandchildren.

Margaret Wise Brown authored many charming books including the “Noisy Books” that I loved reading to my children and now to my grandchildren.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
When I see things that could be improved - especially for kids - I want to make that happen. Writing books is one way to engage in tikkun olam and make the world a better place.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
Follow your passion.  As Theodore Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Where did you get the inspiration for your latest or upcoming Kar-Ben book?
From my Aunt Freyda Siegel , who had an inspiring, and magical touch with children of all ages.

What are you most excited about promoting in your new book?
Judaism enriched my life. I want to share this precious heritage with kids.

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