My parents and grandparents were not storytellers. By the time I was old enough to ask the right questions—about the old country, the journey to America, life in the new country—there was no one left to answer them. That left a gaping hole that can never be filled. So I've become passionate about sharing my stories and encouraging others to share theirs. It's not surprising, then, that Sophie's Monster Goes to Shul is a story about stories.  

Stories are a miracle of human existence.  We're the only species able to tell them. They're entertaining, yes, but they're not frivolous.  They help us make sense out of the chaos of life, and they've been our best means of passing on information, values, and culture from generation to generation since we were cave dwellers gathered around fires.  

Stories have always been a vital part of Jewish life and tradition, from the Torah to The Wise Men of Chelm, from Sholem Aleichem to Steven Spielberg. I like to think of Sophie's Monster Goes to Shul paying tribute to our story-sharing values in three ways:   

First, there's the character of Zayde, who reads Jewish stories to Sophie and her friends (and the Monster!) during religious school. Zayde happens to be based on a real-life zayde, my husband, Harvey, who read stories to children at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim on Sunday mornings for years.  Unfortunately, his health no longer allows him to do so, but I've captured those happy times forever in my book. Stories can do that.  

Second, Sophie herself deals with the problem of her kvetchy Monster by writing and sharing a story about him, thereby fulfilling his wish to have a new job in which he is seen and heard by all. I hope she sets an example for her readers who may be budding authors and illustrators.   

Finally, there will be you, reading Sophie's Monster Goes to Shul to a child. It will be entertaining, yes, but it won't be frivolous.  You'll be planting a seed in that little one, showing how stories help us meet challenges when we listen, create, and share. Think about it: That very act of sitting with a child and reading a story is a miracle of human existence.  I hope you enjoy meeting Sophie and her Monster and that they encourage you to share your own stories as well!