Green Bean Books

Q&A with Menahem Halberstadt for Just One More Thing… and then Bedtime

1. Just One More Thing… and then Bedtime is a funny, honest book that will resonate with any tired parent that has a young inquisitive child. Can you say anything about how you came up with the idea? Is this based on your own experiences with your own children?

The story is based on my experience as a parent trying unsuccessfully to put his children to sleep, and on the fact that I realized that the time before bed is a special time for children when their thoughts and ideas come out, so even if you are tired, it is very worthwhile to listen

2. How do you feel when you look at the final artwork of Just One More Thing… and then Bedtime and many other books you have done? Are you happy or is there anything you would change?

I am very happy with the artwork of the book. It is a book in which the illustrations are indeed different from my other books, the concept like a ‘theatre stage’, there are no changes in camera angles, everything happens in one place, from one angle when everything on the stage is used to tell the story.

3. When you draw animals you probably don’t base anything on anyone you know (unless you have pets!), but when you illustrate books with humans, do you ever include people you know?

This is an interesting question, since in this story it took me a long time to find the character of the father, I did quite a few sketches and nothing was good enough, and so a few weeks passed without direction, until one day I was sitting in a cafe in Jerusalem and suddenly someone came in and he was just the right character, The guy sat down at the table in front of me so I had time to paint him and cast him n the book…

4. When did you realize you were a talented writer and illustrator, and where did you learn?

Ever since I can remember I have always loved to draw, in notebooks at school, and since then I actually haven’t had time. I’ve also always loved making up stories, and I even have a few comics stories I created at a young age. This is the first book in which I am an author- illustrator, but that has always been my goal.

5. How do you think, or hope, children – and their parents – will react to your illustrations?

I really hope that the children and parents will enjoy the book. A good book is a book that you want to go back and read again, and that with every reading you find something new in it.

6. Do you have a favourite illustration, or part of an illustration, in Just One More Thing… and then Bedtime or another book of yours?

I really like the first illustration in the book, where the father takes Toddy out of the shower without knowing what a mess is going to happen.

8. Who do you regard as the Jewish illustrators of our time – living or dead?

I really don’t know how to answer!

9. You are a Jewish author and illustrator working on a book about Shabbat – do you think it matters that you are Jewish? Would it be right for a non-Jewish Spanish or Korean illustrator to tackle this sort of story if they did enough research?

I don’t think there is right or wrong here, it is clear to me that as a Jew it is easier to understand and describe a world that I know from the inside, familiarity allows more creative freedom, but I think that every person can engage in any content – and the only question is whether it will be good, interesting and exciting or not.

10. What would you like to work on next?

I’m always waiting for the next project, to do something new that I haven’t done yet, I have several stories waiting to be published Just One More Thing… and then Bedtime is a lovely book – thank you!