In advance of the 68th Annu­al Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards cer­e­mo­ny on March 5th, 2019 (which you can buy tick­ets for here), Jew­ish Book Coun­cil is shar­ing short inter­views with the win­ners in each category.

Eri­ca S. Per­l’s All Three Stooges, win­ner of the 2018 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award for Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture, is about a boy, Noah, just try­ing to get through sev­enth grade and his bar mitz­vah year. Then his best friend’s dad com­mits sui­cide. Here’s what the Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture pan­el judges had to say: Believ­able, empa­thet­ic char­ac­ters deliv­er grief, humor, and friend­ship in a mov­ing plot immersed in pos­i­tive Judaism.”

Which three Jew­ish writ­ers, dead or alive, would you most like to have din­ner with?

Syd­ney Tay­lor, Judy Blume, and E. L. Konigsburg.

What’s your favorite book that no one else has heard of?

E. L. Konigsburg’s Jenifer, Hecate, Mac­beth, William McKin­ley, and Me, Elizabeth.

Which Jew­ish writ­ers work­ing today do you admire most?

Don­na Gephart, Judith Viorst, Elana K. Arnold, Lau­rel Sny­der, Emi­ly Jenk­ins, and I am prob­a­bly for­get­ting SEV­ER­AL. Oops, did I only men­tion women? Alan Silberberg.

What are you read­ing right now?

I am read­ing Elis­sa Brent Weissman’s The Length of a String. Next up is Phillip Roth’s Amer­i­can Pas­toral and Brandy Colbert’s Lit­tle and Lion. The last two books I fin­ished were Jonathan Auxier’s Sweep (a Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award final­ist) and Eliz­a­beth Acevedo’s The Poet X—I loved both!

What are your great­est cre­ative influ­ences (oth­er than books)?

I start­ed tak­ing improv because I like per­form­ing. It turns out that the goal of improv is not pleas­ing your audi­ence but hav­ing a suc­cess­ful con­nec­tion with your scene part­ners. I find this to be a good reminder to be your hon­est self and write from your heart.

What do you hope read­ers will take away from your book?

I hope that read­ers will come away with an aware­ness of the heal­ing pow­er of empa­thy and an appre­ci­a­tion of the gift of laughter.