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Happy Book Birthday to Hanukkah Nights by Amalia Hoffman (Author-Illustrator Interview)

Hanukkah Nights

Written and illustrated by Amalia Hoffman

Kar-Ben Publishing, 2022

Ages 1-4

It’s so lovely when authors I’ve interviewed or featured on my blog swing back by when they have a book birthday for a new book. Congratulations, Amalia, on the October 1 release of your beautiful, very colorful Hanukkah Nights! Thank you for stopping by today.

Welcome, Amalia! Let’s get to it and learn more about your newest book.

What special traditions do you enjoy with your family during Hanukkah?

We always throw a huge party with tons of food and two homemade kinds of latkes: with and without onions. Each guest brings their own menorah and we light all of them. It’s a beautiful sight. We decorate the table with chocolate coins and sing many Hanukkah songs. After the 3-5 drinks, we dance to Klezmer music.

That sounds beautiful! The lights, food, singing, and dancing, what lovely traditions.

I love how readers will learn new ways to paint when they read Hanukkah Nights. How did you get your start as an artist and illustrator?

I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. I used to make fancy greeting cards for my family members on birthdays and anniversaries. And later I sold handmade greeting cards to a shop in Jerusalem where I lived.

My parents encouraged my passion for art and craft.

My mom used to stir shredded newspaper with flour over the stove to make Papier Mache and I made puppets for our family theater. My parents enrolled me in after-school painting classes and when I was a teenager, I spent the summer in an artist village in the Galilee where I experimented with mosaic, ceramic, and stained glass.

After high school I attended the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. Basically it was a very traditional academic school. I didn’t love it but I learned how to draw from a model, proportions and perspective. When I came to America, I earned my BFA Cum Laude from Pratt Institute and MFA from NYU.

I joined SCBWI so I could meet other illustrators and enrolled in many workshops. Then I got enough courage to work on my stories, accompanied with my own illustrations. I created a story, entitled Purim Goodies and eventually sold it to Gefen Publishing, an Israeli publisher that publishes mainly in English.

As I gained more confidence, I went on to illustrate many other books.

I love how your family supported you as you grew and explored your dream of being an artist.

How did you celebrate the October 1st, 2022 release of your new book?

Actually I participated in a huge book fair that took place on the same day, https://ryebookfestival.com/meet-the-authors  So I rolled in Hanukkah Nights in a baby carriage. As usual, on every book launch, I got roses from my man & toasted with Champagne.

A baby carriage and a book fair! That is awesome! And what a sweetie to give you roses and toast you with champagne! Well done.

What is one tip you could give to new picture book writers and illustrators?

Don’t try to force yourself to work in a particular style that you think is popular. Trends change frequently and you’re better off perfecting your own techniques and styles.

Excellent advice. Thank you.

You have several wonderful books out in the world. What surprises are you working on now?

I have a new picture book coming up in 2024, but at this time I can’t provide details yet, only to say that I’m very excited about it.

I’m also working on a new board book and new picture book.

That’s wonderful, Amalia! We look forward to hearing more details as your new projects come to fruition.

Congratulations, Amalia! Thank you for sharing with us. All the best wishes for you, Hanukkah Nights, and your creative work.

Contact Amalia Hoffman.

Book buddies, be sure to check out Hanukkah Nights. Find a copy at your local indie or favorite bookstore and ask for your library to order a copy. Don’t forget to show some author love by leaving a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Thank you!