The St. Louis Park teacher-turned-author published her third novel in the YaYa and YoYo series, “Hoopla Under the Huppah.” The series chronicles twin siblings Ellie (YaYa) and Joel (YoYo) Silver, who get their nicknames from their Hebrew names: Yael and Yoel. Weinstein has been taking the book on tour to schools around the country and will be having her book release party at the St. Louis Park Library from 3:15-4:45 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19.
“The characters are a combination of people I know,” she said. “My niece’s name is Yael and goes by Ellie; it was just finding two names that go together. They are combinations of me, my husband, and our kids.”
After tackling Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot in the first two books, Weinstein takes on the Jewish wedding and its rituals. Ellie, along with her twin and their older brother, Jeremy, is preparing to be in their favorite aunt’s wedding. But Ellie is worried that everywhere she goes and everything she touches brings bad luck. She thinks she may have even upset the “Ayin Hara,” (The Evil Eye).
With three books out on the shelves, Weinstein has a plan for the rest of the series.
“I’m willing to be flexible enough to recognize that I may need to change, but I want to do one book per month covering a whole year,” she said. “The reason November is a wedding is that there’s no Jewish holiday in November.”
She has started work on the fourth novel – with the topic of Hanukkah – but hasn’t gotten too deep into it beyond that.
“I’ve been sitting on it a little, but now that we’re getting into Hanukkah I’m really going to start paying attention to ideas,” she said. “I’d like to pick up the pace. I’d love it to be out in two years. But that’s not realistic.”
Weinstein’s first book, “Sliding Into the New Year,” was first written in 2005 but not released until 2011. The second book, “Shaking in the Shack,” came out in 2013. She’s hoping to not have to wait four years again.
“This was a combination of things,” in this book, Weinstein said. “I did a lot of rewrites because I didn’t like how it was coming out. I like it now. I just didn’t like where it was going.”
Weinstein occupies somewhat rarified space in that she is among the few authors who write middle grade, Jewish literature.
“It’s growing, but I don’t think anyone is doing it quite like this,” she said. “I’m trying to write compelling, contemporary stories that also teach a little bit. There’s more to being Jewish than who we used to be. What are we doing now? Why is Judaism surviving? It’s not apologetic. It’s celebrating Jewish life.”