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kveller q&a

Meet the Children’s Book Author Who Actually Helped Name Kveller

sam apple

Didn’t you ever wonder how Kveller got its name? Well, now, you can actually “meet” one of its co-naming geniuses. His name is Sam Applehe’s a Jewish dad, a writer with three published books, and a professor of creative writing and science journalism at the University of Pennsylvania. Not bad, eh?

When Kveller first launched, we held a contest to name the site, and he won. While “Kvell” was already down as a possibility, Sam suggested to add the “er” to the title. Clearly, it stuck.

Recently, I read his debut children’s book, “The Saddest Toilet in the World,” which is an adorable book about a boy named Danny who doesn’t like sitting on the toilet (isn’t this every parent’s nightmare when they’re potty training?). As a writer myself, I always appreciate a good book.

sam apple

I was lucky to be able to interview Sam, where he told me what his favorite podcast is, what TV show he’s binge-watched, and what Jewish holiday he would be:

Having written three books, one of which is a children’s book, which would you say was the easiest and the hardest to write? Why?

I think my first book, “Schlepping Through the Alps,” was the hardest to write, mostly because I had no idea what I was doing. And it didn’t help that many of the books I needed for my research were written in German.

My new children’s book, “The Saddest Toilet in the World,” was the easiest–both because it’s so much shorter–and because it’s fun to sit around and think about what a toilet might do if it were left to its own devices.

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

I always loved “Danny, the Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl. I was raised by my dad, so I could really relate to Danny’s relationship with his father. I recently reread it with my son, and it holds up.

What TV show have you binge watched?

I recently binge-watched and loved “Baskets,” with Zack Galifianakis. I can’t understand why it’s not getting more attention and critical acclaim. Martha Kelly, one of the stars, is unbelievably good.

Biggest pet peeve:

I’ve been guilty of this myself, but it worries me that people will step on a patch of difficult-to-detect black ice and fall, or nearly fall, and then continue walking without concern for the next person who will soon be stepping on the same patch of ice. In a perfect world, we would all carry de-icing salt in our pockets during the winter so that we’d be prepared for these moments.

If you were a Jewish holiday, which one would you be?

I’ve always been a Shemini Atzeret guy.

Childhood goal:

At a very young age, I declared that I wanted to be a trash collector, but, by 3rd grade, I had settled on point guard for the Houston Rockets.

What’s your weirdest family tradition?

I like to tell riddles to my kids at dinner, but I’ve run out of real riddles, so I now have to make them up on the spot, which is quite hard. I’ve found that the secret is to just tell stories, until eventually you say something that doesn’t quite make sense. The thing that doesn’t make sense then becomes the riddle, and I, myself, have to think up a plausible solution before my kids do, which is also quite hard.

Favorite podcast:

The Lowe Post” with Zach Lowe.

What’s your favorite children’s movie?

This is a tough one. I really enjoyed “Inside Out.” “Cabin Boy,” starring the great Chris Elliott, is also high on my list.

Least favorite part of your day:

11:14 a.m.


Read More:

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9 Surprising Women Who Are (Or Were Raised) Orthodox Jewish

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