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A Jewish Teen Just Wrote This Children’s Book We Love

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For 16-year-old Jack Jacob and 20-something Emma Hofberg, a common love of writing and art came together when they wrote and published a children’s book called “Pillow Fight Night.”

Jacob, a New York City native, wrote the book, while Hofberg, who lives in London, illustrated it. The book’s publisher, Stacey Hope of Hope & Plum Publishing, said the book “teaches kids about friendship and forgiveness, about expressing feelings and correcting situations.”

So, what’s the story about? A boy and his pillow — and honestly, we don’t want to spoil too much of the rest. However, I was lucky to speak with Jacob and Hofberg about how the book came to be:

How did you decide to write this book, and how did the illustrations all come together?

Jack: In 2010 when I was 9, I woke up one day and declared to my mom that my pillow turned against me. I told her I slept badly and it was all my pillow’s fault. Her very first reaction was telling me to write it down.  From there, we had a transcript and decided our goal was to get my story published.

Seven years of perseverance later, it has finally happened. Our publisher brought Emma in, who did an incredible job bringing the story to life in pictures.

Emma: Coming up with the basic images for the book was easy because what Jack had written was so emotive, kind of like the images already existed and I just had to try and pin them to the page.

When did you start writing? How did you persevere through all the rejections?

Jack: I have been interested in writing since a very young age. Even in kindergarten, I was always looking to learn new words and put new stories together. I drew inspiration from TV shows, books and anything I could read. Fast forward to now and I’m taking English Literature at A-level and have no intentions to turn back.

The rejections were tough in the very beginning, but I quickly realized the rationale behind rejecting a kid author with a debut book, even if they liked the story. The first few hurt a bit especially because I was so young.

Emma: I can’t speak for Jack but I try to think of rejection as a part of every endeavor. If you got everything you wanted, the moment you wanted it, how could you possibly appreciate it?

If you could be anyone or anything, just for one day, what would you be?

Jack: Probably some kind of bird would be fun. Flying around and laughing at humans who can’t fly is the dream, isn’t it?

Emma: I want to be the person who decides what films get made. I will use my one day of power to get some really awesome stuff approved. Don’t worry, film industry. I got this.

What was your favorite children’s book or young adult novel growing up?

Jack The “Percy Jackson” series by Rick Riordan was a huge favorite. My friends and I couldn’t get enough of it. Also honorable mentions for “Lord of the Rings” and everything Shel Silverstein has ever written.

Emma: I love, and to this day continue to reread, “Wee Free Men.”That was the book that introduced me to “Discworld” and completely changed my perception of literature. Before that, I thought books had to read a certain way and characters could only have so many dimensions. But that’s wrong. Literature is an art form, too. It does not have to be predictable.

What TV show have you binge-watched?

Jack: I’ve just finished “Stranger Things” in an embarrassingly short period of time, and I’m so happy that I did.

Emma: I do quite a bit of binge-watching but by far my favorite TV show to marathon is “Pushing Daisies.” I do not think I will ever tire of it.

Who are you, in one sentence?

Jack: I’m 16, so probably safest to ask me again in 10 years.

Emma: I am not finished.

Biggest pet peeve:

Jack: When someone is playing music out loud and he or she can’t just wait until the end of the song to change it to the next one.

Emma:  Passive aggressiveness. Just hash it out with me!

If you were a Jewish food, what would you be?

Jack: I’d be a latke no doubt. Can’t go wrong with a latke.

Emma: Lokshen kugel!

What’s the best thing about yourself? What’s the worst?

Jack:

Best: My ability to immediately memorize song lyrics. You’d be surprised how often that comes in handy.

Worst: My tendency to leave my stuff wherever I go.

Emma: I think the best thing about myself is I really do try to be good. I think the worst thing about myself is I don’t know if I try to be good because it’s right or because I want to be perceived as good. But maybe everyone feels that way.

Childhood goal:

Jack: Well, since getting published is no longer an option, I’ll go for getting published a second time!

Emma: I just wanted to have fun. Always.

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