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It’s almost Passover, and that means it’s time for young children to brush up on their reading skills. Why? So they can ask the four questions at the family seder!

But right now, I have to ask Rachelle Burk four questions about her new book, THE BEST FOUR QUESTIONS! *ba-da-bum*

Rachelle, for those who aren’t familiar with the Passover Seder, what are the “Four Questions”?

The focal point of the Passover Seder is the telling of the story of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. This storytelling begins with the youngest person at the Seder asking the Four Questions, which are actually four parts of a single question: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” This leads into the story of the days of slavery and the Exodus.

Why is the youngest at the Seder supposed to ask them?

The youngest asks the Four Questions so that they will be an active participant in the Seder. In fact, many of the activities done at the Seder are intended to keep the children involved. The reason that the Seder is geared around the children is to pass on responsibility of the Passover message and tradition to the next generation.

What is your favorite part of the Passover Seder?

Most people might say “the food.”  For me, I’d have to say that I enjoy the thoughtful discussions our family has.  Okay, that, and the matzo ball soup.

What is the best fourth question to end this interview with?

How about, “what inspired this story?”

I grew up in a small but active Jewish community in New Orleans, and our family Passover Seders were large, boisterous events. They were full of the laughter of children—my four brothers, sister, and two cousins. The grown-ups sometimes got annoyed, feeling that there was a bit too much goofing around and not quite enough paying attention.

Not much changed as we grew up. Then my wise father had an idea: he put the responsibility for running the Seder on us, then-grown, kids. He said we could lead the Seder anyway we wished, as long as we fulfilled all the required parts of the service. This included the reciting of The Four Questions by the youngest child (by now, we had little kids of our own), and the telling of the Passover story.

So my brother and I wrote funny skits: A ‘talk show” interview with Moses. The Passover News. A restaurant review of McManna’s Desert Café. The Egyptian weather report (100% chance of locusts and frogs; the Nile’s inexplicable “red tide”…). We still got to have fun, but now the older generation laughed along with us.

Laughter remains an important part of our family Seders—and so does asking questions. Questioning is highly encouraged in Judaism. It facilitates learning, understanding, and discovery. And so, in keeping with our creative Seders, I wrote a story about a child determined to come up with the BEST questions ever.

Ha! They are the BEST. So funny!

My personal brisket with Jewish picture books is that there are not enough funny ones! This one hits the spot! Publisher’s Weekly agrees, saying “Passover is a celebration of freedom, and that includes the liberty to take a small detour into shared silliness.”

Actually, many Jewish holidays celebrate religious freedom. As my family says, “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!”

You can get THE BEST FOUR QUESTIONS by Rachelle Burk and Melanie Florian anywhere books are sold. 

Happy Passover!

by Rachelle Burk

So here we are, nearly halfway through Storystorm month. Although you’ve broken most of your other New Year’s resolutions already, you are still on track with your writing goals due to the support and inspiration you’ve gotten from Tara and all the Storystorm guest bloggers. You’re thrilled with how your manuscripts are coming along.

Oh, you’re not? You like your ideas but think your rhyme sort of stinks? Your dialogue sounds unnatural and your characters feel flat? Do you need another pair of eyes (or two or three), but haven’t a clue how to find a critique group?

I feel your frustration, and I’m here for you.

In 2009 I taught a workshop at my local library called “How to Write a Children’s Book and Get It Published.” Perhaps the title promised a bit too much for a two hour workshop, so as a follow-up for the participants I created a simple website with about a dozen links to helpful articles and resources.

That is how ResourcesForChildrensWriters.com was born. Today it contains hundreds of links in over 30 categories, and has been included in seven consecutive years of Writer’s Digest Magazine’s annual list “101 Best Websites for Writers.”

No matter where you are in your writing—a novice or published—you will find useful resources. If you need help creating strong scenes or flashback scenes, developing your character or naming your character, understanding the rule of “Show-Don’t-Tell” or the “Rule of Threes,” Category #1: Helpful Writing Articles is where to start.

Does your rhyming story make you feel like pulling your hair out a strand at a time? Yeah, mine too. So when I wrote DON’T TURN THE PAGE!, (a rhyming story within a prose story), I relied heavily on Rhymezone, one of two rhyming dictionaries you can find in Category #16: Rhyming and Poetry. I also love Dori Chaconas’ incredible lesson, “Icing the Cake: Writing Stories in Rhythm and Rhyme,” one of many poetry help links.

Writing can be a lonely business. When Storystorm 2018 is officially over, where will you find support? Category #10: Critique Groups can lead you to your perfect writing partners. Category #9: Online Forums will help you connect with other writers on the SCBWI Blue Board, Absolute Write Water Cooler, Yahoo groups, and more. You will never be lonely again.

With the help of your new critique partners and ever-growing group of supportive online writing friends, you finally have a manuscript ready for submission. Should you send it to an agent or directly to a publisher? How do you choose among them? What are the pros and cons of self publishing, and how would you go about it? Your head swirls with confusion and anxiety! But then you remember ResourcesForChildrensWriters.com and a sense of calm washes over you, because, like that trusted friend who’s just a phone call away, those helpful links are just a click away. You soon learn how to write a Query Letter: Category #6, then browse through several Publisher Lists: Category #3.

Within the Publishers category you’ll find such valuable links as the SCBWI Market Survey Guide and Nancy Allen’s list of Small and Midsize Publishers. When I was ready to submit my middle-grade science-adventure novel THE WALKING FISH, I consulted Evelyn Christensen’s list of Educational Markets, which led me to Tumblehome Learning Inc, a specialty publisher dedicated to producing science-themed children’s books. Two years later Tumblehome published my picture book biography PAINTING IN THE DARK: ESREF ARMAGAN, BLIND ARTIST. I also have Evelyn to thank for her Writing for Children’s Magazines ezine for leading me to publishers for some of my magazine stories. Maybe you’ll find your next publisher among one of these lists.

Oh, you already found a publisher? Congratulations! What happens now? Category #26: Book Marketing and Promotion is dedicated to helping you get the word out. Make a book trailer. Master social media. Write a press release. Do a radio show interview. Be sure to also create a free author profile page on Amazon, Goodreads, and other major book sites (Category #27: Author Sites), get others to plug your book (Category #21: Book Reviewers), and prove to all how remarkable your story really is (Category #19: Contests and Awards).

Now that you’ve got a few books out there, let your journey inspire children! I have been accused of writing books only because I have so much fun visiting schools. (That’s not all together untrue). If the idea of doing school visits terrifies you, it shouldn’t, now that you can consult Category #12: Author Visit Resources to help you develop and market your program.

Once you have excited the kiddies, where can the budding writers go to remain inspired? Category #29: Resources For Kids Who Write links to a massive list of resources exclusively for children, including online writing communities, publishing opportunities, contests, and more.

I have tried to leave no subject uncovered when creating ResourcesForChildrensWriters.com. Do you need to find famous quotes or onomatopoeia words for your story? Create a proper bibliography? Determine your story’s readability level? Construct a book dummy? Seek out work-for-hire opportunities? Do you have a legal question regarding publishing? Are you an illustrator who wants to showcase your work, or an author who is seeking one? I’ve got you covered. There is nothing to stop you now.


Rachelle Burk is a scatterbrain with a scattered life; a recently retired social worker, she continues to work as a professional clown, storyteller, and rescue squad volunteer. She added “writer” to her resume later in life (she was 50 when her first book was published). Rachelle writes both fiction and nonfiction, including picture books, chapter books, a middle-grade novel, and magazine stories. More than anything (except maybe scuba diving), she loves to do author visit programs at schools around the country. She lives with her husband/adventure partner in New Jersey. Visit her at Rachelleburk.com, and follow her on Twitter @Rachelleburk where she highlights favorite resources and announces new links.

Rachelle is giving away a picture book critique. (As one of Tara’s critique group members, Tara urges you to enter for this prize–Rachelle is one of the best at critiques.)

Leave ONE COMMENT on this blog post to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!

7ate9

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


illus by Melissa Crowton
Tundra/PRH Canada
June 4, 2019


illus by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
October 15, 2019

THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN
illus by Vivienne To
HarperCollins
Spring 2020

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
August 2020

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