I’m psyched that Bras & Broomsticks has finally hit the shelves. This story has been brewing inside me since before I even knew how to write. Seriously. I would tell stories and my mom would transcribe them. They were all about princesses named Sarah. That is, until “The Baby” was born. This was my sister, Aviva, also known as “The Squirt,” who not only took my place in the center of my family, but also became the star of all my stories. I wrote “Life with The Squirt,” “The Squirt Ate My Homework,” and “Adventures of SuperSquirt,” which were about a little sister who could fly. In the third grade, my mom even typed one of them up and sent it to Bantam Books. Not surprisingly, that’s the story of my very first rejection letter.
But anyway. My sister is very much the inspiration for this book. “What?” you scream. “Is your sister really a witch? Can she zap me up car? New clothes? Can she put a love potion on a movie star for me?”
Alas, no can do. Unfortunately for Aviva, in real life she’s no witch. She doesn’t have one magical bone in her body. She can’t levitate objects, zap up new cars or tell the future. In fact, she’s been known to leave the house without an umbrella on many the-sky-is-about-to-open-up occasions. But I wish there had been magic in my house. I wanted it badly enough. My favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz, and I was obsessed with it. I once got grounded for coloring in my brand-spanking-new white Keds with a red marker. My second favorite movie was Star Wars. I spent hours trying to get the Force to open and close my curtains. Unsuccessfully. Like my sister, I too don’t have a magic bone in my body. But Aviva does have another type of superpower. But before I can share it with you, I have to give you some background, and (gulp) divulge my most embarrassing story.
Picture it: summer Camp, July 1990. I agreed to be in the camp play, Fiddler on the Roof. I was an extra and had one line. One single line. Seven words. I practiced with my friends, my counselors, by myself in the shower. And then came the big night. Two acts until my line. One act until my line. One scene until my line. My line. My line? Suddenly everything was is slooowww motion. And my mind? Blank. Completely wiped clean. Nothing came out of my mouth. Zilch. Zero. Nil. I prayed I would wake up and be in my bed. Or at school. Or getting a root canal. Anywhere else. Finally, after two minutes of painful silence, sweet old Tevya continued with the scene. And I will never be in plays again.
But back to my sister. The next summer, she was in the junior section, the youngest group of kids in camp. I was a senior, the oldest. She dropped by my bunk to tell me that she was cast as Annie in that year’s play. I was horrified. You can’t sing, I told her. You can’t memorize lines! You can barely remember to brush your teeth. This was no joke—halfway through the summer, I had stopped by my sister’s cabin to discover that her tube of toothpaste had never been opened. Anyway, you can see why I was so concerned.
And then came Play Night. The curtain opened with the spotlight on my little sister. And she opened her mouth and my stomach free-fell. And then, just as I was about to cause a diversion by jumping up and screaming Fire! she belted out “Maybe” with a voice I’d never heard before. Shocked, I wondered how a voice so big (yet so pretty) could come from such a little person. And how did she remember all the lines? I had never been more proud . . . and more filled with envy. My sister had a superpower. Why couldn’t I remember my lines? Why couldn’t I carry a tune? I’ve been known to crack mirrors during renditions of “Happy Birthday.” How were Aviva and I even related? But somehow we were.
Bras & Broomsticks is based on the always real, always complicated
love, jealousy and pride that sister relationships inspire. Basically it’s my updated version of SuperSquirt.