At our shul's Family Service, we arrived and saw these wonderful new children's siddurim sitting on all the chairs. I looked at the picture on cover and felt this overwhelming sense of familiarity, of connection, of home, and then saw Joani's name!!! I was so thrilled to see her work and to share it with Aaron, and to tell the rabbi (who loves the siddur) that Joani is my friend. But what I felt more than anything, sitting there in services with my son in Brooklyn, looking at your artwork, was a sense of your presence, of my history, of our friendship, reaching all the way to my life in this moment and infusing every Shabbat!

Gayle Kirshenbaum




Illustrating books is a chance to become someone (or something) else…if only for a short while. I imagine myself as each character depicted in the story I have been asked to illustrate, and place myself in their fantastic worlds. Who am I? How do I look? Where am I — and what do my surroundings look like? What am I feeling as the story progresses? How do I relate to the other characters in the story and to the series of unfolding events?

It is from these imaginings that I conceptualize the illustrations that will bring vivid life and motion to the written (and often spoken) words on the page. I am drawn to stories that are optimally conveyed by fanciful, dream-like illustrations that appeal to a universal sense of whimsy — and an ability to temporarily suspend disbelief.