Author Spotlight: Karen LeFrak
July 5, 2019
We are pleased to feature author and composer Karen LeFrak and her latest picture book, SLEEPOVER AT THE MUSEUM, illustrated by David Bucs (Crown Books for Young Readers, January 2019). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I was a former music teacher for youngsters and when I met Jake, the “doggie” mascot of the New York Philharmonic who interacted with the musicians and conductor of the orchestra, I decided he would be the perfect vehicle to teach children about music. From there, my first story seemed to write itself, as I was combining multiple things that I was passionate about; music, animals, and children’s education.
Congrats on your recent picture book, SLEEPOVER AT THE MUSEUM. Tell us about it and what inspired you?
SLEEPOVER AT THE MUSEUM is a story about a boy named Mason who is celebrating his birthday with a sleepover and scavenger hunt through the exhibits of the American Museum of Natural History. He and his friends journey through the museum to scout out the best place to sleep for the night, learning about natural history along the way. I was inspired to write this story because of my own love for the museum and the joy it has brought my family over the years.
When our own children were young, my husband and I brought them to the American Museum of Natural History often. My sons in turn, took their own children to the museum and passed along a love for learning about the world we inhabit. When I discovered one could have a sleepover there, I thought a book about a birthday party with a scavenger hunt and sleepover would be a wonderful way to introduce youngsters to the museum. In my previous books, I featured many of my interests like classical music, ballet, and dog shows一why not the world of natural history as well?
You are also a composer and board member of the New York Philharmonic. How do these creative efforts inspire or influence your picture books?
My interests tend to inform each other, so there’s usually overlap between my creative work. My passion for classical music and writing definitely go together. As a matter of fact, I was asked to compose the score for SLEEPOVER AT THE MUSEUM, which was premiered in Miami by The Miami Symphony Orchestra on February 24th, 2019, and will be performed again at Festival Napa Valley on July 15th, 2019. And, the New York Philharmonic will perform it at a family benefit concert on March 7th, 2020. I’m lucky enough to be able to see things from the point of view of a child, which means that everything I do is an opportunity to tell a story.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
The road to publishing Sleepover at the Museum was something in between. I approached my publisher with the story and the idea was readily accepted, but the arc of the story needed to be filled in and improved. There were a few iterations of the story before the final one as we worked out the details and decided the path we wanted Mason to take.
What projects are you working now?
Right now I’m actively pursuing and encouraging other orchestras to perform Sleepover. But I am always composing!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t be discouraged with any rejection. Rework your manuscript and don’t be afraid to resubmit it.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Most people know that I breed standard poodles and that I write children’s books. But not many people know I am a composer and have been involved with music for a very long time.
Where can people find you online?
Karen LeFrak is an author, composer, and philanthropic New Yorker. She is the author of JAKE THE PHILHARMONIC DOG, JAKE THE BALLET DOG, and BEST IN SHOW. Karen's most recent book is SLEEPOVER AT THE MUSEUM (Crown Books for Young Readers; January 2019).
Recently featured in Good Housekeeping's 10 Amazing Women In The Arts Over 50, she is a Director of the New York Philharmonic and was recently appointed to serve on the board of the Kennedy Center. She is on the President’s Council of the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and has served on the New York State Council on the Arts and as President of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy. For more information, please visit karenlefrak.com and for Karen’s music, visit karenlefrakmusic.com.
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