While the last 19 months haven’t been great by any means, Dori Weinstein used it for good: She finished her fourth book. The latest installment in the YaYa and YoYo series, In A Latke Trouble, was published last month.
“I’ve been productive during this pandemic,” she said. “What else am I going to do? I’m going to write books.”
Weinstein is holding an outdoor book release party on Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Hennepin County Library in St. Louis Park (3240 Library Lane), from 1:30-3 p.m. If the weather isn’t good, the event will move inside to the meeting room, where participants will need to be masked. Weinstein will be selling and and signing books, as well as doing a reading from the book.
The series chronicles twin siblings Ellie (YaYa) and Joel (YoYo) Silver, who get their nicknames from their Hebrew names: Yael and Yoel. After tackling Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and the Jewish wedding and its rituals in the first three books, Weinstein has moved on to Hanukkah.
“I started brainstorming when I finished the last one, which was in 2017,” she said. “I knew this was going to be a fun one — it’s about Hanukkah and there is plenty of stuff. I had a lot of downtime, a lot of moments looking blankly at that computer screen, or heading in one direction and just not liking where it was going.”
Weinstein is a specialist at the JCC early childhood center at the Sabes Center Minneapolis and the Aleph School preschool at Beth El Synagogue. But during the pandemic, neither had her come in — which she both understood was OK with. The open time in the schedule is what allowed her to focus and finish up the book.
The twins in the book are fifth-graders, which puts them right in the intended age range of 8-12 for the book. The books also alternate between which of the twins is the narrator; this book is YoYo’s turn to tell the tale. He leads readers on a story of the peer pressure he faces from his friends at school, and how it merges with the story of Hanukkah he’s learning about how Jews were being pressured by the Greeks to take on their Hellenistic lifestyle.
“I put the two in sync where he’s fighting this pressure and how it must have felt for the Jews at the time,” she said.
Each of the books in the series focuses on something Jewish each month, so her plan is to complete eight more books — unless she combines months along the way.
“Ideally, if I could get it out every year to half or even every two years, would be better than every four years,” she said. “I actually am thinking I might combine some of the months like two summer months, July and August. I might just have them go to camp. So now I’m down to 11 books.”