Archive for January, 2023

Meet ZIPPY, the Witch of Woodland!

Sunday, January 22nd, 2023


At last.

Zippy, my sweet Zipporah.  My anxious bat-mitzvah girl. My lonely Jewitch.

I began writing this book years ago, in another time.  It seemed like a really good idea, back in 2019. Mose had just become bar mitzvah, and Lew was heading into the same intense experience. I was deep in that moment, and I thought it would be a good idea to plumb the depths of it, to dig into what kids REALLY think and feel about Judaism and adulthood.

I remember asking Lew one day, “Do you believe in God?”

He looked at me, thoughtfully, and replied, “Of course not. Do you? Does anyone, for sure?”

So I began THERE.

As he studied and began his mitzvah project (working on the farm at Concrete Jungle), I dreamed of a girl named Zippy, a girl who wasn’t sure she believed in God, though she DID believe in something.

Then, in March 2020, the world changed.  We postponed Lew’s classes, stopped attending synagogue. The bar mitzvah was on hold “for a few months.”  When I called my dad, told him we’d be rescheduling for August 2020, he said, “Two to four years, Laurel. Plan on two to four years.”  I refused to believe him, but of course he was right. (he’s usually right, my dad).

And I couldn’t finish the book after that. I found myself scribbling weird poems late at night, for the first time in years. But when I sat down to tell Zippy’s story, she refused to join me.  She simply wouldn’t show up. I think that probably the sadness of Lew’s bar mitzvah (now indefinitely postponed) hung over her like a raincloud, kept her away.

I did write a book!  But it wasn’t real. Didn’t feel true to me. And when my editor read it, he agreed.  So, along with Lew’s big day, we postponed the book. Again and again, the bar mitzvah and the book got pushed down the road, as we waited for the variants to stop, the vaccines to work.  I didn’t want to publish just any old book. I needed Zippy to come back to me, tell me her story.

And finally. At  last. She did!

So, here she is, a little later than expected. Zipporah Chava McConnell. ZIPPY THE WITCH!  She’s worried and lonely and watching the other kids grow up faster than she is, all around her. She’s missing her best friend, who seems to have left her in the dust. She’s fighting with her parents and eating her rice pudding and casting her spells, in hopes of managing her life and the world. In hopes of controlling something.  And then, one day, she’s discovering she has a far greater power than she knew!  And she’s writing that story down, for you, the reader. Which is, of course, another sort of spell…

The only magic I know. Even if sometimes, I have to wait for it.

I hope you’ll get to know Zippy. I hope you’ll love her. She could use some love.

We all could.

We all could use some love.