The Mixed-Up Files is thrilled to be a part of the Sydney Taylor Book Blog Tour:
Named in memory of Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series, the STB award recognizes books for children and teens that exemplify high literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.
Huge congratulations to author Erica S. Perl for her Sydney Taylor Honor Award
in the Older Readers category for her book,
All Three Stooges (Knopf BFYR)
About the book: SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD HONOREE FOR OLDER READERS!
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE!
An unforgettable coming-of-age story about comedy, loss, and friendship for fans of Jennifer L. Holm and Gary D. Schmidt.
Spoiler alert: This book is not about the Three Stooges. It’s about Noah and Dash, two seventh graders who are best friends and comedy junkies. That is, they were best friends, until Dash’s father died suddenly and Dash shut Noah out. Which Noah deserved, according to Noa, the girl who, annoyingly, shares both his name and his bar mitzvah day.
Now Noah’s confusion, frustration, and determination to get through to Dash are threatening to destroy more than just their friendship. But what choice does he have? As Noah sees it, sometimes you need to risk losing everything, even your sense of humor, to prove that gone doesn’t have to mean “gone for good.”
Equal parts funny, honest, and deeply affecting, All Three Stooges is a book that will stay with readers long after the laughter subsides.
“Perl has created a moving coming-of-age journey steeped in Jewish traditions and comedic history, elegantly balancing humor with an honest look at the impact of suicide. Noah’s genuine voice and tricky situation will have readers pulling for him.”–Publishers Weekly
“This novel is excellent on multiple fronts. A satisfying story that will appeal to all middle grade readers.”–SLJ
“Watching Noah repeatedly sliding on a banana peel (even, once, literally) gives readers plenty of occasions to wince, to chortle, and ultimately, to applaud.”–Booklist
“A welcome portrayal of a very difficult situation’s impact on someone not ready to deal with it—and there are plenty of funny moments to make it all easier to take.”–Horn Book
We are delighted to welcome to Erica to the Mixed-Up Files blog:
Erica, Your book looks delightful. Can you tell us how you came up with this idea? Does it relate to anything growing up, etc?
All Three Stooges is about two comedy-obsessed seventh grade boys, Noah and Dash. I started writing this book when my younger child was preparing to become a bat mitzvah. When she was little, her best friend’s father died by suicide. So, I knew very early on that Dash’s dad would take his own life and that his death would affect Noah as well as Dash. This allowed me to tell the story through Noah’s perspective and show him making a series of misguided choices in a desperate attempt to reconnect with Dash. Noah, whose comfort zone is being a funny guy, has to learn empathy and how to be a mensch through a painful trial-and-error process.
Tell us a little about the story and how your characters evolved. They seem so funny and real.
I researched the book by hanging out at my temple’s mid-week religious school, taking notes and trying to be a fly on the wall. I also drove the Hebrew school carpool a lot. And I volunteered at a grief camp for kids, and interviewed several teens who had lost loved ones to suicide. It was important to capture their pain, but also to capture the levity that is a defining quality of most kids this age – even those who are grieving.
Your book deals with some pretty heavy topics, but does so with a bit of comedy. Do you feel its important to balance the emotions of the book?
Absolutely. In writing All Three Stooges, I needed to make sure it never felt like I was trivializing loss or pain. But at the same time, I deeply believe in the power of laughter to connect people and to heal. At grief camp, our tradition is to start off by giving the kids cans of seltzer and letting them shake them up, then explode them on themselves and others. That release – of fizzy water as well as laughter – gives them permission to also let out the darker bottled up emotions. That was precisely the balance I wanted to strike in this book (and why I made seltzer Dash’s dad’s favorite beverage).
I have to ask, are you a Three Stooges fan?
Not exactly. BUT I do have favorite Stooges clips. And I discovered after the book came out that I had a relative named Paul “Mousie” Gardner who was one of many original Stooges in their vaudeville days (before the Three Stooges went on to stardom in Hollywood).
What does it mean to you to win the Sydney Taylor Honor Award?
It means the world to me. When I was little, All of a Kind Family was one of the first books I read about a Jewish family (the other was The Carp in the Bathtub). As a writer and a reader, I care deeply about the importance of accurately showing the Jewish experience to the world, so to see a Sydney Taylor silver medal on All Three Stooges makes my heart soar.
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries
More information about the award and a list of all of the winners can be found here: The Sydney Taylor Book Site
Learn about all of the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners by reading about them on the other Blog Tour sites listed here
But wait, there’s more, Erica has graciously offered to do a giveaway of her book. Please post your comments about the book or congratulations to Erica below to be entered for a chance to win a free autographed copy of All Three Stooges