Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 2, 2023

Book Giveaway: ZIGGY by Sharon Sorokin

Sharon Sorokin has written her picture book, ZIGGY, Illustrated by Helen Cann and published by Bikabow Books. Don’t miss reading Sharon’s journey. I think many of you will be interested in the birth of this book.

Sharon has agreed to share a copy of the book to one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Kim and Alexandra!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Ziggy is a young boy who wishes upon the stars, as all children do. But when the Nazis rise to power, Ziggy, like so many other Jewish children, is taken to a concentration camp far from his home. There, Ziggy feels lost and alone, until a small potato reminds him of the hope and comfort he used to know and inspires his faith to persevere.

Written and illustrated for ages 8 and up, the affecting and multilayered tale will touch readers of all ages.


Ten years ago, at Kathy Temean’s Avalon, New Jersey writers retreat I sipped wine with a dozen writers and two literary agents. As the conversation ranged from writing to politics, I told the WW II story of Ziggy and his potato. “You have to write that story,” both agents said. For several years, I puzzled over story drafts. What is the action? How does the character change? Can it be told without frightening children? Can it be told without whitewashing the truth of Ziggy’s experience? During those years, the desired picture book word count dropped. I shortened my text. Characters and action scenes were excised. My focus shifted inward, to Ziggy’s soul.

Flash forward to another Avalon retreat. A marvelous agent helped me polish the manuscript and asked to represent my book! Soon, an editor at premier publishing house expressed interest. We talked. I rewrote without a contract. She loved the rewrite. But no book contract was forthcoming, for reasons, the editor explained, above her paygrade and unrelated to the text. After other rejections, my agent and I gave each other up, amicably. But I could not give up Ziggy.

At conferences, I showed the manuscript. The editors and agents had opinions. It was too short. It should be a biography. Maybe a middle grade or YA novel? Where were the other characters? Some editors displayed other books they had edited.
Couldn’t I write something more like what they had already published? And who could blame them? How many agents or editors want to try to sell an as-yet-to-be illustrated manuscript with only one character – a child in a concentration camp?
But I had confidence in my manuscript.

On Kathy’s Writing and Illustrating blog I discovered artist/illustrator Helen Cann ( Helen’s phenomenal use of color is fabulous, but what struck me most was the emotion expressed in the dark, leafless branches of a tree and in her images of night skies. Helen was the illustrator I wanted.

Meanwhile, my friend Suzy Becker (best selling author and cartoonist; suggested I engage an art director/book publication designer and recommended Margaret Chiarelli of odd0design (

With Margaret on my team, and the pandemic raging, I reached across the Atlantic Ocean to Helen. She loved the manuscript but wasn’t sure about independent publication. After Helen saw Margaret’s work and credentials, and I committed to a dust-jacketed hardcover, we reached a deal.

It was Helen’s idea to set up each double page spread with text on the left and a full illustration on the right, each page edged by matching rondeles. The rondeles provide a gentle allusion to an illuminated Middle Age Haggadah and provide tiny, compelling windows into Ziggy’s experiences. Given the emotional and spiritual focus of the book, Helen’s composition
turned what could be difficult to illustrate manuscript into a gorgeous book.

There were a few fits and starts as other (small) publishers popped up their heads, expressed interest, and faded away. At last, I gave up that ghost for good and the journey continued.

While Margaret and I reviewed Helen’s thumbnail sketches, larger roughs and eventually full color illustrations, all meticulously researched by Helen for historical accuracy, Margaret designed the colophon, title page, text pagination, back of the dust jacket and other details.

Margaret and I researched printers. The price range was vast. Signature Printing in Maryland (printing plant in Tennessee) quoted a relatively reasonable, the reviews and sample books were good, and we liked the owner.

After more research, I decided upon a sales price for the book and purchased a small number of ISBN numbers from Bowker, then sent the final proofs to my very first agent (now semi-retired) who had never read this manuscript. He suggested a change at the end and a reason for the change. He was right.

This required a new illustration and some smaller illustration modifications. With those text and illustration changes, the pagination changed, and I realized I needed something further in the text. And just like that, I wrote one of my favorite lines in the book. We were finished, with the writing and illustrating. The electronic proof hurtled through space to the printing plant.

Next step, fulfillment house. Whitehurst & Clark fit the bill. Only 50 miles from my home with reasonable storage,
fulfillment and handling fees, and fabulous reviews. I love that I can visit (and retrieve) my books in the warehouse!

To publish Ziggy’s Potato, I created Bikabow Books LLC as the publisher of Ziggy’s Potato. With any luck, and hard work, Bikabow Books may publish additional books – whether mine or those of others. Bikabow’s website will be live by the end of January. While my journey has not been traditional, I am delighted with the outcome.


Sharon Sorokin writes stories and poems for children. Her debut picture book is Ziggy’s Potato, A Holocaust Story, illustrated by Helen Cann, with art direction and book design and production by Margaret Chiarelli of odd0design.

At Wesleyan University, Sharon studied with poets Richard Wilbur and Franklin D. Reeve and learned to play the koto, a stringed Japanese instrument.  She worked as a magazine writer and harpist in Portland, Oregon before attending Boston College Law School.

Sharon lives in an 18th century home in Haverford, Pennsylvania with her husband and a huge fluffy dog.  When she isn’t writing, Sharon knocks around on the piano and harp, and listens to all kinds of music. She also serves as a Trustee and Secretary of the Presser Foundation which supports music education and performance, and on her town’s Historical Architecture Review Board.  Favorite activities include long walks with her dog, trading poems with friends, and improvisational cooking. Sharon has lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont (for a few summers at music camp), Oregon and for seven patisserie-filled weeks, France.


Helen Cann is an author and illustrator specializing in children’s books, mapping, drawing and lettering.  She’s contributed to over 30 books, won several awards and exhibited around the world.  Her book illustrations are mainly hand produced using watercolour, collage and graphite and have been used in picture books, anthologies and chapter books. She also loves anything to do with maps and type. Sometimes the two things even come together!  Illustrations, drawings and lettering have been used for business branding and props for TV and film. She currently works in a studio above a milkshake shop in sunny seaside Brighton in the UK.

Occasionally she works as a fine artist and information about her maps, paintings and drawings (and current exhibitions) can be found on her fine art website. She is represented by ONCA Gallery in Brighton and Art Republic.

Uncharacteristic extrovert moments have included learning to blacksmith; a brief employment as a forger (legitimately!); employment as a ‘hand double’ for a BBC costume drama (although they never actually made it to the screen); performing in a theatre show based in London’s West End; drinking reindeer blood with Sami herders; driving a dog sled above the Arctic circle and sailing as crew 1300 miles across the North Atlantic tracking whales.

Helen was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click here to view.

Thank you, Sharon for sharing your book and journey with us. It was exciting to be there, every step of the way, watching you nurture develop Ziggy from idea to book. Thank you for laying out how you made your dream a reality. I think it might provide a map for other writers to take the leap. I know you spent many hours at every step. You should be very proud of the product you put out. The book is gorgeous. Rivals any other published book. I hope you go on with your new publishing company to help make other writer’s dreams come true. Best of luck!

If you live in the Philadelphia/New Jersey/Delaware area, Sharon is having a Book Launch Party on February 25 – 3 pm at: Narberth Bookshop

Talk tomorrow,



  1. <

    div dir=”ltr”>Sharon, I would love to read this story and to share it with my grandchild. I find your book journey fascinating especially because I


  2. Congratulations, Sharon! So nice to see you here and read about Avalon retreats. Best of luck with your book.


  3. What perseverance, and the book looks truly beautiful and full of story.


  4. What an amazing journey. And the story is so important to tell to young children


  5. There was a woman in my church when I was a young married person, who used to sit next to me after a certain time. She spoke little English. My ex was physically abusing me, and I was not talking about it. But she knew. One day she simply raised her sleeve and showed me her wrist. She knew without ever saying a word. She was in a camp for sheltering Jews during WW2. This book journey touched me deeply. I would love this book.


  6. I love the story behind the story, the illustrations, and the determination to see this book all the way into print! Brava!


  7. I learned about your site from Antoinette Truglio Martin who is a friend of mine. I’m so pleased to hear about this children’s book about the Holocaust. I’d love to connect with Sharon. I wrote a children’s Holocaust book called The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey and have been given presentations on it both locally and nationally. These stories are important to be told and I’m glad to see another author who getting the word out. Thanks, Kathy, for sharing this book.


    • So glad to hear from you. I am sure Sharon would like to hear from you. Besides the book being wonderful, Sharon is wonderful, too.


  8. Congratulations Sharon! A wonderful lesson in perseverance. Best of luck with this book. I am sharing this post on FB and twitter.


  9. This post made me teary for Ziggy’s and Sharon’s journeys. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing.


  10. I have family that were sent to concentration camps so this solemn book hits home for me. Congratulations on your persistence and publication. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Facebook, Pinterest, tumblr, and Twitter.


  11. This book looks absolutely beautiful. It’s something that I would love to have in my special collection of books.
    I am a subscriber and I shared on Twitter.


  12. This looks like a beautiful book, and the story of bringing it to fruition is remarkable. Thanks for the post. I subscribe by email.


  13. “If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?” Congrats on this wonderful journey. I can’t wait to read your book, Sharon, and maybe team up with you in the future! All the best!


  14. Thanks, Kathy. I will reach oit to her.


  15. So beautiful! I love the way you believed in your story and made it happen! Gorgeous!

    I follow by email and tweeted this post.


  16. Amazing story…both the actual one with its stunning illustrations and your path to publishing it. Congratulations! I’m looking forward to the day it will be available for purchase ❤


  17. What a journey, but worth it! Glad you persisted.


  18. Thank you for sharing your journey, Sharon. I’m very impressed!!


  19. So interesting to learn more about how the book came to fruition!


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