Jewish actor Jake Gyllenhaal has two nieces — the daughters of his sister, celebrated actress and director Maggie Gyllenhaal, and her husband Peter Sarsgaard.
When his eldest niece was born 16 years ago, he went in search of books to prepare for his new role (isn’t that what we all do?) but realized that there just weren’t that many children’s books about aunts and uncles out there.
Gyllenhaal is now setting out to change that. He co-wrote the forthcoming book “The Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles” with his childhood best friend, Greta Caruso, with illustrations by Dan Santat, who won a Caldecott medal for his “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend.”
Gyllenhaal took to Instagram to announce the book, sharing a truly charming video about its conception, along with with a public apology to his sister for giving her kids soda without her approval. In the video, he lamented how, while aunt and uncles are “sacred members of society,” the pout-pout fish has better representation when it comes to the children’s books shelves at libraries and book stores.
Gyllenhaal, who recently said that his dream role would be Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” also shared his credentials for writing the book. They include attending around 400,000 dance recitals, supplying his nieces with countless pints of ice cream, and being there for last minute hangs after a tough day at school. The Russ and Daughters aficionado also accurately describes what being an uncle is all about — showing up and paying attention.
The book is about the art of “Auntieology and Uncleology” and one clueless uncle, Mo, who just doesn’t get it. That all changes when he goes on a magical adventure with his dance-loving 10-year-old nephew Leo. The book is all about how aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews “learn to keep each other close and how we find love in the simplest things.”
“The Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles” is coming out on September 5. The book already has the stamp of approval from sister Maggie, and from Jamie Lee Curtis, who shared it on her Instagram, boasting that it makes her the proudest of godmothers. We can’t wait.