We’re back on the blog with another recent bubbe book for kids! Brand-New Bubbe by Sarah Aronson and illustrated by Ariel Landry (Charlesbridge, 2022) is a wonderful intergenerational story about family, food, and love. We had the opportunity to interview Sarah about her inspiration for the story. Read on and then visit the Candleschtick Bookshop to order a copy!
We love how Jillian brings all three of her grandmothers together with soup! Where did the idea for this picture book come from?
When my stepson announced that he and his wife were going to have a baby, I was overjoyed! I couldn’t wait to be a bubbe! When I began to share the news, one friend asked: “Does that feel weird? Since you’re not technically related?”
Technically related? Technically Schmecically!
Right away, my heart hurt. Family wasn’t just made of blood. They were made with LOVE! The second I said that, I knew I had to write a story—from the kid’s point of view! I thought about all the changes Jillian had to accept before Bubbe entered the picture. I thought about loyalty. And love. And how kids learn to accept new people into their lives. And of course, I thought of that overenthusiastic bubbe who couldn’t wait to love this kid. It was a fun story to write, and I am SO GRATEFUL to editor, Yolanda Scott, who saw the potential and teamed me up with artist, Ariel Landy, who took my words and gave them even more humor, subtext, and love.
At Candleschtick, we love telling stories about times that our grandmothers cooked with us and taught us their recipes for blintzes, mushroom soup, and apple cake. Do you have memories of making certain foods with your bubbes?
NO! Neither of my bubbes enjoyed cooking!
With my dad’s mom and dad, I have great memories eating at delis! We once split a corned beef sandwich into five! That’s how big that sandwich was.
I also have especially funny memories of eating some absolutely terrible dinners. At my other bubbe’s house, there were always leftovers—since no one could stomach her cooking. She was the wife of a rabbi who knew Martin Luther King and other powerful leaders. Sometimes, I’m up at night wondering who she cooked for. And what they thought of her favorite vegetable, lima beans!!!
Here's the silver lining: Since there was no one passing down recipes to my mom, I became an avid cook. By age 11, I was experimenting with all kinds of flavors. I LOVE making all kinds of interesting foods, especially soup. You know, soup is just like family: made of love. Also, soup is like writing a book! You put a bunch of ingredients into a pot, simmer and stew, and BOOM! Something amazing comes out.
While cooking matzo ball soup, Bubbe tells Jillian to “use a gentle touch” so the matzo balls turn out “fluffy and soft.” And in the recipe in the back, you reveal your secret soup ingredient—parsnips! Do you have any other tips for first-time matzo ball soup makers?
This is embarrassing: Use the Manishevitz mix and follow the directions!!!!! The mix makes things easy! When I use it, my matzo balls always come out great!
Favorite Yiddish word?
Chutzpah! I think all my characters have it! And so do I!
Apple sauce or sour cream?
SOUR CREAM!!!!!! And caviar on latkes! I call that “The Elizabeth Taylor!”
Lokshen or potato?
Do not make me choose!
To learn more about Sarah Aronson and her wonderful books, visit her online.