Lau­rel Sny­der is the author of the pic­ture book Bax­ter, the Pig Who Want­ed to Be Kosher. She will be blog­ging all this week for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

When I talk about how I came to write books for chil­dren, I often leave out an impor­tant part of the sto­ry — the mis­er­able fail­ures. There were (and con­tin­ue to be) many of them. But in par­tic­u­lar, there were many failed attempts to write Jew­ish pic­ture books for inter­mar­ried fam­i­lies.

It’s fun­ny, how the mem­o­ry slips. In recent years I’ve man­aged to block out these par­tic­u­lar man­u­scripts, because they feel so clunky and heavy-hand­ed to me now. I wrote them a decade ago, when I was only just begin­ning to think about myself as an engaged Jew, and as a writer for kids. When they didn’t work, I set them aside, and turned my thoughts about inter­mar­riage into an adult book called Half/​Life instead.

After that I went on to pub­lish oth­er non-Jew­ish books for kids. In a sense, I divid­ed my ener­gies into two dis­tinct sets of projects.

But then, through a strange series of events and con­ver­sa­tions, I found myself drawn back to the idea of writ­ing for Jew­ish chil­dren. And what hap­pened was inter­est­ing — I wrote the book I’d been want­i­ng to write all along.

I didn’t write Bax­ter to be an inter­mar­riage book. The idea sim­ply popped into my head one day — a kosher pig! It seemed like a sil­ly idea. A fun idea. I didn’t think I could sell it. I was real­ly sur­prised when I did.

In fact, it was only once the book was done and actu­al­ly looked like a book that I was able to read it and rec­og­nize it for what it was — a book about inclu­sion and diver­si­ty. In some ways it was the hap­pi­est moment of my pub­lish­ing career so far.

It was as though I’d plant­ed a seed in my own mind, and left it alone, then come back to find it had grown into some­thing I’d nev­er have made on pur­pose. Some­thing less inten­tion­al, less con­trolled than the failed man­u­scripts about inter­mar­riage. In step­ping away from my intent, I man­aged to pro­duce some­thing that might be of inter­est for the com­mu­ni­ty I’d intend­ed to write for.

Does this make sense? The oth­er books I’d writ­ten — 100% Ruthie and The Queen of In-Between — were too much about my own strug­gle, as a kid grow­ing up with one Jew­ish par­ent. They start­ed from a place of frus­tra­tion, with an axe to grind, and nev­er quite man­aged to leave it. Or that’s what I think now, read­ing them.

Stop back lat­er this week, and see for yourself!

Bax­ter, the Pig Who Want­ed to Be Kosher comes out this week. Check back all week to read Lau­rel Snyder’s posts.