With the holiday of Sukkot starting Monday, October 1, and lasting for seven days, you may be planning to spend some time outdoors in a sukkah, celebrating the season with friends and family. First-time author Susan Axe-Bronk (and mom to two kids) was so inspired by the holiday that she decided to write a children’s book all about it! In “The Vanishing Gourds: A Sukkot Mystery,” for ages 3 to 8, Sara discovers that the gourds she hung from her family’s sukkah have been eaten by a family of squirrels. The lighthearted backyard mystery captures the seasonal spirit of Sukkot’s joyous celebration and reflects Axe-Bronk’s own appreciation for nature. We asked the developmental psychologist and art teacher to tell us more about her brand-new book.
What inspired you to write this kids’ book? How did you come up with the concept?
A number of years ago right before Sukkot, I asked my kids to rake the patch of grass where we put our sukkah each year. Before long, I heard squeals of delight upon their discovery of gourds growing. We had seen squirrels eating our sukkah gourds the year before, and now their seeds were sprouting into new gourds right in time for Sukkot! A present from the squirrels? How could I not make that into a story!
What will children learn from the book?
I hope children will learn how much fun it is to celebrate Sukkot. I hope they will also learn that sometimes we lose something but get it back in a most surprising way. I think the most important lessons of the story are to share what we have with those in need, including animals, and to feel grateful for what we have. I write to remind myself, as well as others, of these concepts.
What’s your favorite family tradition for Sukkot?
Decorating the sukkah with colorful gourds. Ever since the gourds grew in the sukkah, we look and hope each year that the same “miracle” will occur again.