Meet ZIPPY, the Witch of Woodland!

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.

A new season! A new book! Here we go…

January 11th, 2022

After a long long break, I have a new book out, with Dan Santat, and I could not be more excited.  After two “endless” pandemic-years, I’m incredibly hopeful about this spring, and really do expect to be hitting the road again, visiting with bookstores and libraries and schools and friends all over.  I’m booking some events now, and will keep you posted!

ENDLESSLY EVER AFTER is a big big picture book. In some ways, it’s actually more of a story collection.  When you read it, you’ll be able to choose your own version of the fairy tales you know and love, follow Rosie as she wanders along a number of different paths, and discover where you both end up. You can read it over and over without reading the same story twice!  Dan and  I have been working hard on it for years, and we can’t wait to share it with readers.  I’ll post some art below, so you can see how it works…

You can preorder now, from a number of sellers, but my own local children’s bookstore, LITTLE SHOP OF STORIES, is all set up for signed and personalized copies, if you’re interested in getting a special surprise for a friend. I’ll pop over and sign them, just as soon as the books arrive. And if you’re interested in setting up a bookstore event or booking me for a festival, please email me at laurelsnyderauthor (at) As usual, schools can reach out to The Author Village about visits (in-person or virtual).


Lewis had a bar mitzvah…

August 23rd, 2021

And I wrote him a poem.


Just a Dolphin

For Lewis, on his bar mitzvah, in the middle of a pandemic


“Get in the water,” I tell him.

“There’s no shark, and you won’t drown.”

We’re at the ocean, and there is a shark.

There’s always a shark somewhere.


Also, the tide never stops hunting,

only rests from time to time.

This is how we live, by lying.

By stepping  into the surf

with our eyes closed,

for the simple reward of lunch on the sand,

hair all tangled, lips salty, eyes bright.


When I tell my kid he’s going back to school,

he looks at me like I’m the sun,

squinting into my gaze

as though he can’t quite see me or anything else.


“It’s not safe,” he says.

“The teacher pulls her mask down to talk.

Everyone’s always touching everyone else.

Four kids were out today,

and Anna was coughing in science.

Did you know I have to take my mask off

to eat lunch? If I want to eat.”


“You want to eat,” I say sharply.

But he’s looking at me like I’m the sun again.

Like I might hurt him.  He’s scared of the world but also me,

and I’m not certain.


So I nod and say it louder,

like it’s a thing I actually know.

“You want to eat.”

Only for some reason I shake when I say this.

“You want to eat you want to eat

you have to want to eat,” I say. “Okay?”

“Okay,” he nods.


And suddenly, we’re just two people

sitting in the sand and I’m not the sun anymore.

He’s not squinting. Instead, we’re staring

at the waves, the world.


“Everyone’s always touching

everyone else,” he says. “It’s awful.”

“I know,” I say.  “I’m sorry.”

And when in the distance, a gray fin

breaks the surface of the water,

we watch it rise,

then disappear.


“That was a dolphin,” I say quickly.

I look at my kid, beside me.

I see him breathing  and remember to breathe too.

He stares at the water, then back at me.


“I know it,” he says.

“Just a dolphin,” he says.

Then, suddenly there’s a dazzle,

and I have to squint to look at him.

He’s too bright.

He’s fierce and shining

with what he’s learned to do.

And then it was spring again…

March 18th, 2021

And we began to emerge…

I have my second shot on Tuesday, in Alabama (a whole other story).  Now, I’m looking into whether the boys can go back to school for a few weeks, see non-family humans again, laugh and joke and learn with their friends.  I’m allowing myself to hope that I might get to teach in person again, this summer. I’m thinking about travel and school visits and book events. I’m crossing my fingers that we can have some sort of in-person bar mitzvah ceremony/celebration for Lew, a year and a half late. We have grandparents coming to visit (all of them are fully vaccinated, for which I’m so grateful).  And I’ll see two of my three siblings for spring break in the mountains.

We have so much catching-up to do!  We need dentists and doctors and clothes that fit and ALL the hugs. I miss the world so much.

And yet… we’ve learned a lot this year. About ourselves, and the things from the Before-times that we maybe don’t want to return to. Life before was busier than it needed to be, maybe a little over-full. As we emerge, I want to be sure I don’t let the world swallow me. I like gardening, and journalling, and eating meals together. I like spending lots of time in my office. I am thankful for the friendships that have deepened in this season, however remotely, and for the new things I’ve learned to do.

But oh, I’m looking forward to the world.

Eight months in, as the number rise…

November 19th, 2020

Isn’t it interesting how the pandemic hits you differently, from week to week? One day, things feel okay. You enjoy your family and make soup, and take walks, and watch a movie, and you think, “I can totally do this.”

But then, the next day, you wake up in the same house, with the same people, and the same cats. You eat your eggs, but life overwhelms you, so that you’re choking on your sense of loss, sadness, fear. You’re too tired. Too worn from vigilance. From sameness.
For me, personally, THIS is the hardest thing– the inexplicable difference between any two moments, the dissonance in how I feel from one day to the next, even when the days themselves are identical.

Tonight, I found myself listening to music, driving around alone. Nothing was actually wronger than usual, but I couldn’t stand my house anymore, felt a desperate need to get out. Craved, paradoxically, both aloneness and people. Because I’m in quarantine right now, I couldn’t actually GO anywhere, so I just drove and drove.

Eventually, I ended up here. I’ve driven here maybe 15 or 20 times over the last few months, just to stare at these words, but never after dark. And something about the place was so lonely and deserted, but also familiar. I felt better, but also very sad. This is a thing I do sometimes. Push on my own sadness. Like a kid pushing on a scabby knee, to see how much she can take.

There’s a scene in My Jasper June where Jasper teaches Leah about this, about what she calls The Sad Game. She explains that sometimes, it’s worse to try to be okay, and better just to give in to the sadness. Jasper is smart.  So I did that, played The Sad Game. And tonight, it felt right.

On the way home I listened to a song that I knew would make me cry. And when the tears came, I was grateful for them.

Everything Will Be Okay. Also, everything absolutely won’t. Living with that understanding, that discomfort, is something I can do, but it’s incredibly hard for me.

Still, here we are… In the same place, if a different moment.

Happy holidays, Baxter…

September 24th, 2020

A decade ago, I published a book that’s now out-of-print.  It changed my life,turned me into a “Jewish children’s author!” and opened a million doors for me.  Have you ever met Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher?

Now, here we are, in the Days of Awe, and the world is totally upside down.  But I thought folks might like to read the “Jewish Fallidays” Baxter story I never published. I love Baxter, and have quiet dreams that someday he’ll find someone to reprint him.

In the meantime, welcome to BAXTER’S BIG FALL!


Leaves were turning yellow.

Smoke was in the air.

Baxter had new socks on, and…   IT WAS   FALL !


Down at the grocery, there were things to see.

“What’s this?” Baxter asked a small woman with a large dog.  He held up a round red thing.

“Why, that’s a pomegranate!” said the woman.

Baxter had never seen a pomegranate before. “What’s it do?” he asked.

“You eat it, silly!” said the woman.  “On Rosh Hashanah. Everyone knows that!”

“Oh,” said Baxter.   He didn’t know.


Baxter made his way to the counter, where a man was stacking jars of honey and whistling.

“Excuse me,” said Baxter.   “I wonder—can you tell me what a Rosh Hashanah is?”

The man smiled.  “Of course. Rosh Hashanah is the new year. The start of the fall holidays.”

“You mean like Halloween?” said Baxter.  “Thanksgiving?

“Not exactly,” said the man. “But I don’t have time to explain today. It’s my busy season!”

“Oh, okay.”


Baxter left the deli, munching his pomegranate. It did not taste very good.


The next day Baxter went to visit his friend Rabbi Rosen, at the synagogue.    She smiled when he trotted into her office.   “Can I help you?”


“I was hoping, “ said Baxter, “you might tell me about Rosh Hashanah.”

“Oh, it’s wonderful!” said Rabbi Rosen, setting down her pen.  “It’s when the book of life is written, and everyone starts fresh!”

“Book of life?”

“If you want to know more, you should come on Tuesday!”

Baxter nodded.  He certainly didn’t want to miss the book of life!  It sounded important.


That Tuesday, Baxter returned. Sure enough, Rosh Hashanah was terrific, full of cheerful prayers and bright songs. A man blew a horn.

And Baxter discovered honey cake.


“What comes next?” he asked a little boy who was being dragged to a car.

“Yom Kippur!” called out the boy. “In ten days!”

Ten days? That seemed a long time to wait for more honey cake.


Ten days later, wearing a new tie, Baxter arrived at the synagogue.

He looked for honey cake, but didn’t see any.

And why was everyone being so quiet?


Baxter excused himself to the lobby, where he found a man in suspenders.

“I wonder, sir, if you know what’s happened to all the honey cake?”

The man knelt down.  “This holiday is different,” he whispered. “On Yom Kippur we say we’re sorry for all the things we’ve done wrong. We think of ways to make the new year better.  It’s not fun, exactly, but it’s important.”

“And the cake?” asked Baxter.


“No cake,” said the man. “In fact, we don’t eat a single bite until sundown.”

No eating?” said Baxter. He wasn’t sure he liked the sound of that.


Still, he stayed, and spent the day listening and thinking, hard…

When Baxter left the synagogue, he didn’t feel exactly happy. But he felt—better.

And also hungry!

He went home and ate fourteen bagels.


A few days later, Baxter returned to the synagogue.

He had so many questions!

But the rabbi was busy with power tools.

In fact, the entire neighborhood was out in the yard, banging and pounding.


“What’s that?” asked Baxter.

“A sukkah!” said a girl with brown braids, “for the festival of Sukkot!”

“Another holiday?” said Baxter.  “What’s this one about?

“You’re looking at it!” said the girl.  “It’s the feast of huts.”



“Sure, we build a hut, fill it with fruits and things, and celebrate the harvest.”

“Ooh!” said Baxter.  “I like fruit!  Can I help?”

“Of course! “ said the girl. “But we’re almost done.”

Then what will you do with it?”  asked Baxter.

“Plenty,” said the girl. “We’ll eat, and play, and dance, and pray.  We’ll do everything in the sukkah.”





Baxter wasn’t sure he had the energy for everything.  But he got to work, banging and pounding.

When the sukkah was finished, it was beautiful!  Baxter felt very proud.


That week Baxter brought his lunch to the sukkah each day.

He read, and talked with the rabbi.

When the kids had a party, Baxter danced and grooved.

It was all very wonderful.



Baxter was getting drowsy.

And droopy.

He was plumb tuckered out!


“Come, Baxter” said the rabbi one day, “Join us in the synagogue. Today is Shemini Atzeret!”

“Shemini what?”

“It’s a holiday!”


Another holiday?”

Baxter could feel his feet trembling. His eyes glazed over.

The rabbi chuckled. “You know, Baxter, though it’s a mitzvah to do everything in the sukkah, you are allowed to take a break.


“I am?” said Baxter.

The rabbi nodded. “Certainly,” she said. Nobody can do all there is to do. The world is too full of wonderfulness.

Baxter thought about that.


“In that case,” said Baxter, “do you know what I would really like to do in the sukkah?”

“I can’t imagine,” said Rabbi Rosen.

“I would like—” said Baxter, “to take a nap!”


Rabbi Rosen laughed.  “Luckily,” she said,  “that is a mitzvah too.”


With a sigh of relief, Baxter fell over in a little heap.  Right there, with the green leaves above him, and the smell of apples in the air, he curled up and began to snore.


There he slept.

He slept and slept, through a day and a night and another day.   He was that tired.


Baxter was sleeping when they took the sukkah down around him.

He was sleeping when everyone went home, and when they came back!


And when the thumping feet and the clapping hands of Simchat Torah began, Baxter didn’t stir.


But that was okay.

There was always next year…


And in the meantime, the songs and sounds from the synagogue were sure to give him lovely dreams…

Virtual author visits!!!

August 19th, 2020


I’m missing my school visits, and the kids, so right now I’m developing some new online programs.

Of course, I’m always happy to present my traditional author visit online, and can condense or expand it to fit different time limits. And for groups that have read one of my books, I offer FREE 20 minute Q&A sessions. But I’m currently working on creating some online writing workshops for all ages.  These are interactive small-group sessions in story-building and poetry craft.  So please reach out if that interests you!

How do we weed and water?

June 4th, 2020


I do not want to center the white experience, but I heard Jason Reynolds say this week that it’s important for white people to speak to white people, and that feels true to me. So here goes:

Watching my (largely white) feed, I am seeing what seem to be a lot of heartfelt expressions of new awareness. I’m seeing vulnerable admissions of bias, and confusion about how to change behavior. That’s a good thing! One of the hardest steps for the comfortable is to accept that we are the root of this problem. This is one reason why the protests need to happen. Not just to change the government, but to change the culture, to change us. Until this moment, a lot of white folks have been able to look away, to feel it doesn’t concern them.

Not only does racism concern us. WE are the ones who must fix it, because we are the ones with the problem.

The truth is, we are all racist. I know there are folks who don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. No matter how we join the right organizations, and march, and read the right books, and make the occasional donation, or stick a BLM lawn sign in the yard (and yes, I’m talking about myself) we have all been raised by this system, and the only way we can make change is by ACTIVELY making change. We cannot magically remove the racism from our bones, but we can work to counter its existence with concrete steps that might mean we do less harm daily, and also that our children and their children have a chance for better bones.

So I want to say that right now, one challenge before us to is to set new patterns that we will CONTINUE to uphold, to establish behaviors that we won’t abandon as soon as the news cycle shifts. I see a lot of lists right now, of black authors to read and black-owned businesses to support, and I think that while these things may seem small when we have armored vehicles rolling through our streets, the truth is that they are things we we still be able to do when the protests end. (the protests never really end, but that’s another conversation).

My question is HOW DO WE MAKE SURE TO KEEP IT UP? For many of us, this is going to be a lot like a workout regimen, where you start out with a lot of good intentions and energy, and quit in few weeks. So how can we task ourselves with maintaining the change? I don’t have an answer exactly, but I do feel like this requires some planning and forethought.

You may say you want to support black businesses, and tonight you’ll order from the black-owned pizza place across town, but in 6 months, will you default back to the white-owned pizza place nearer to your house? You may say you plan to read all the books you see floating by on anti-racism lists, but when your book club picks the newest white-lady historical romance, you’ll probably read it, and say nothing.

I don’t mean this to be a lecture. Rather, I am trying to ask a question. HOW DO WE MAKE SUSTAINABLE CHANGE IN OUR OWN WHITE HABITS? We are all racist, and we are all, this week, resolving to take anti-racist steps to do better. This isn’t about changing who we are, but about changing what we do.

Maybe we set alerts in our calendar, so that every Wednesday night we are reminded: “Order dinner from a black-owned business.”

Maybe we send an email NOW, to our book clubs, suggesting a year of reading only black women authors.

I don’t know, do you? What can we do now that will help us carry this moment and this movement into the year ahead of us? So that when our busy lives distract us from our best intentions (and they will), we will not be able to so easily look away from what our better selves wanted to do?

One thing I am going to suggest right now is that parents join Raising Race Conscious Children and follow them for details on upcoming events and ideas for reading. Because all events are virtual right now, it’s a great time for people who don’t live in the Atlanta area to participate. Regardless of how much you participate, this will give you a regular online reminder that there is work you mean to be doing, no matter what else is going on.

I’d love to hear from folks who know of other online groups that might offer regular structure, education, and a chance to grow in community, so that we don’t forget all the things we intended to do differently in the coming months.

Okay, I’m done, but I want to ask: what thoughts do you have? What resources, but even more than that– what concrete ideas do you have for setting ourselves up for sustainable change? If you’re planting a seed this week in the garden, how will you make certain that you remember to weed and water?

(Related: I just did a search for “seedling” in free stock photos, to use here, and guess how many pages of scrolling you have to get through before you find a pair of non-white hands in an image? I don’t know, because I never found one. THAT is systemic racism, right there. White people not noticing that all the stock photos are full of white people, unless they make a point of seeking out melanin. I wonder if I would have noticed that two weeks ago? I wonder if I’ll notice in a year. I’m going to try my damndest)


A Day for Discomfort

June 1st, 2020

This morning, I am remembering a lot of hypothetical conversations during the primary season, as it became clear that Bernie and Warren were going to lose.

My father, in particular, said, “This election can be about revolution and systemic change, or it can be about the rule of law, restoring the status quo. I’m not sure it can be about both.” Neither of us, in that moment, thought the country was ready to consider the former. And as good white progressives do, we sighed and bemoaned that we might be forced to vote for Biden in November. And then probably we ate sandwiches or something.

I am remembering other hypothetical conversations over the years, when friends and I asked each other, “How bad will it have to get in this country before enough Americans are willing to demand real change?” People were too comfortable, we thought, and we wondered what it would take to make them uncomfortable enough. (And then probably we ate sandwiches or something.)

Trump is a horror show. Covid-19 is a horror show. But maybe, together, they’ve made enough middle class Americans uncomfortable that we can wake up and stare directly at two things that are truly making our nation sick, and always have: systemic racism and income inequality (which cannot be divorced from American capitalism).

For the last week, we’ve been seeing young leaders in the streets, who are not comfortable. Their discomfort is a gift to us now. And yesterday, my rabbi posted something powerful. He said: “To tear down a system built on white supremacy, we would do well to let our discomfort unsettle us.”

I would ask my comfortable friends– the people who call themselves progressives, to consider discomfort right now. If you say you hate racism, but have some amount of power in the corporate world or the law or government structures or the arts/media community. If you have money because you have benefitted from those structures– I ask you to think about how you can turn your discomfort into change. (Before you go eat a sandwich or something). How can you disrupt the system that creates your own comfort, to improve the world at large?

I feel like shit that I haven’t taken my immunocompromised body out in the streets, but a wise friend yesterday said to me, “there is a difference between choosing to be physically safe which is smart and necessary and choosing calculated intellectual/emotional/economic risks.”

I’ve been sitting with that, and I think it’s exactly right. Risk. In the streets, people are taking risks. They are giving up comfort, in hopes of actual structural change. And I want to suggest that for those of us who are not in the streets, there are other roles to play.

I have not been doing that myself, I’m ashamed to say. Instead, I’ve been seeking comfort–in my garden, my kitchen, my television and my bookshelf, my liquor cabinet and my search for a fucking plastic kiddie pool. Trump and the virus have made me unsettled, uncomfortable, unhappy, so I have tried to soothe myself.

But that’s not what this moment is for, I think. Even for those of us at home, the question is: what can we unsettle from where we are? What can we smash, and then rebuild? Not the window of a barber shop, but the structures we have been supporting with our jobs, our privilege, our daily lives?

I don’t have an answer yet, but I know I have struggled with this all my life– the balance of my comfort/privilege with what I claim to be my convictions and beliefs. And if I’m uncomfortable now, it’s because these protests are shining a light on the fact of my complicity, and all the ways I’ve benefitted.

People are attempting to dismantle the very worst thing, our national shame. And every day, we are either helping them do it, and/or we are supporting the structures that enable it. At the very least, we should be able to sit with our discomfort, and not soothe ourselves with wine and Netflix.

We post a picture of MLK to FB, or send 50 bucks to the NAACP for bail. But really, aren’t those just other small ways of seeking comfort?

Hopefully, those of us who claim to want change, to hate racism, will move from discomfort to action now. Right now. If not in the streets, in the spaces we live– our jobs, schools, etc.

You want to talk about November, but it’s June 1 right now, and the kids are in the streets. An election can’t undo the systemic problems of this country. An election never has.


The Beastly Collective!!

March 20th, 2020

Hey, folks!

Wow, everything is suddenly weird and different, but life goes on, and so do stories.

Today, I’m writing with a request. I’ve written a story that has no ART, and art is important. Locked in my house this way, I’m reaching out to folks who might be inspired to make and share art for my story. Give a listen to the story time, and then, draw or paint or sculpt me a collective of YOUR favorite animal, and I’ll post them here.

Cool? Cool. Check out the amazing art that’s already come in!





And an ERST of BEES!


Keep em coming!