Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Secret Lives of Interns: Lloyd Street Synagogue Children’s Book in the Works

A blog post by Rachael Gilman.

Yep, that’s right; the JMM is in the process of creating a children’s book showing the history of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. I got pretty excited when I found out about this project the second day of my internship. I have some experience working with children and writing children’s literature, so I made a few suggestions. Suddenly I was a part of the project team, much to my delight.

The synagogue finally gets to tell its story.

The children’s book project team consists of Anita, Jenn, Deborah, Avi and myself from the JMM. There are a few other team members I’ll introduce in a moment.

“Long before your grandparents’ grandparents were babies, before they walked or talked or tied their own shoes, I was built with shovel and pail, hammer and nail, brick and stone.” (make the quote stand out in some way-italics? Block quote?)

This is the very beginning of the story, which was written mostly by Anita with suggestions from the rest of the team. After 10 drafts, the text has pretty much been finalized. The story is told from the synagogue’s point of view and describes children and events in the 165 year life of the building.

Here’s a peek at a sketch of one of the book’s illustrations.

A picture book needs pictures so author and illustrator Jonathon Scott Fuqua (who also did the illustrations for the videos in The Synagogue Speaks) is part of the project team. Scott has been very flexible as we’ve worked to finalize the story. The JMM staff tries to give Scott everything he needs to create beautiful and accurate illustrations. Jenn and I have hunted down descriptions and pictures of fashions, cars and other buildings from the various time periods covered in the book to send to Scott to use as references. He’s already made some wonderful sketches for us.

The project team sat down in the middle of July to work out the layout for the book. After studying the layouts of other picture books, playing with the text, and doing just a little arguing we had sketches showing the placement of words and text for the picture book. We also added four spot illustrations for Scott to create.

LSS photoshoot!

On July 20, we had a photo shoot at the synagogue so Scott could get specific reference pictures with models. Scott’s son along with some of his friends served as models. Various staff, volunteers and even we interns were adult models for Scott. Other JMM staff and their children have been models for Scott in the past. If you take a close look at some of the people in “The Synagogue Speaks” videos you’ll see several familiar faces!

Scott’s daughter Calla Grace Fuqua was the model for Ella
in both The Synagogue Speaks and the children’s book

The latest addition to the children’s book project team is Paula Bogert, a graphic designer. She will help us pick out background colors, fonts, text size, etc. Paula created the graphics for the “Voices of Lombard Street” and “The Synagogue Speaks” exhibitions and has designed a number of books.

At our last team meeting Scott brought in about a dozen pencil sketches on watercolor paper to get our approval before he started painting them. Anita, Jen, Deb and I looked them over to see if we liked them and for historical accuracy. We found some hairstyles and head coverings we have to double check with more research. But Scott has tentative approval to start painting 5 illustrations.

We’re getting closer to finally sending our children’s book to the publisher! Once the publisher has the book it will take several weeks to print and bind the number of books we plan on ordering. The children’s book should be available for purchase early next year (keep your fingers crossed).

I feel honored to be a part of this project and I can’t wait to see how the children’s book turns out!

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