AS: You’ve written over twenty amazingly successful books for children, but this is the first where you focus on one specific person. Why did you choose Rebbetzin Henny Machlis?
SB: Although I had never met Henny, I had heard so much about her. She was always someone I wanted to know more about. Then Sara Rigler approached me and said she was writing a book about Henny’s life in conjunction with the Machlis family. I became very excited and knew that one day I wanted to write that book for young children.
AS: How important are role models to our young children?
SB: Baruch Hashem, today, our young children have many role models to be guided by. But anyone who reads about Henny will quickly see how different she is from all the others. And in answer to your question, role models are VERY important.
AS: The illustrations are so special. How do you and the artist ensure that children will love the pictures?
SB: I work very closely with each artist on every book that I write to make sure that they bring both humor and love to each picture. Lea Kron is a fantastic new find for me and you will be seeing more and more of her work appearing. She is an incredible talent. We are now working on another book together.
AS: Your book is based on Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup, the bestselling book. How did you choose your twenty-one stories out of the hundreds in the book?
SB: I worked on editing Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup while it was being written. Each time Sara Rigler would hand in a chapter, I would read it and give it to my wife. An hour later, she would say, “When is the next chapter coming?’’ I tried to find stories from the book that would be different from each other, that would speak to children, and that they would remember and hold onto their whole life. And, of course, I rewrote the stories in language children would enjoy.
AS: What’s your favorite “Henny story”?
SB: Not a fair question! Which of your children is your favorite? For me now, the question is which of my grandchildren is my favorite. Those are questions I would never try to answer. The only good answer to that is — all of them!