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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach (with Special Guest Erica S. Perl)

Good Yuntif! We’ve never celebrated this holiday on the show before, but this week we decided to do something extra special. That something special comes in the form of special guest star, Erica Perl! And when it came to suggesting a book, we all hit upon this 1977 Caldecott Honor winner a.k.a. The Official Picture Book of 2020 (we hope). To me, this book feels like the chaos of home learning in the midst of a pandemic. Someone update this for our current era, stat! Imagine if the man was Zooming with his rabbi and his screen just kept getting crazier and crazier. Sells itself.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

Alas, didn’t have a pronunciation of Margot Zemach’s name, but you can find a nice display of some of her book covers there.

Our special guest star Erica S. Perl has loads of accolades to her name. Here we are posing with her as best as we were able (look for Kate and me in the upper-right hand corner):

Here is Erica’s latest books out just this year. First up, The Ninth Night of Hanukkah:

And from the Truth or Lie series Inventors!

Question: Is this a samovar? I love the samovar in the fellow Caldecott Honor title Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brosgol. This one never gets mentioned, but it’s in a whole slew of the interior scenes.

The architectural model for this is a bit of a puzzle. Kate wondered if the rabbi owned this gigantic house. The poor unfortunate man’s query about how crowded about his tiny house could then be interpreted as a hint on perhaps performing a house swap.

Brave cat makes attempt to eat a chicken. Story at nine.

Are we wrong about this, or is someone storing bread on their roof? What else could these be? Suggestions and theories are welcome in the matter.

We haven’t done this in a while, but this next image contains the picture that Kate would most want as a tattoo. Voila: The chicken. You might want to add the girl face planting into her soup as well. The whole thing. As Erica said so perfectly, “Some days you’re the girl in the soup and some days you’re the chicken under the chair.”

What is the goat even doing here? A backflip into the bunk bed?

There is so much to adore about this scene. The son playing a goose like a guitar while riding a goat. A daughter with a sword and a soup pot helmet on the cow. And for the clincher, a moment of pure genius: the moon bursting through the window.

Naughty naughty, Rabbi. Littering. Tsk.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Thanks for this wonderful and funny homage to Margot Zemach. Erica’s new Hanukkah book is beautiful, and also offers a bit of a different perspective on the holiday.

  2. Judy Weymouth says

    The official Picture Book of 2020 . . . Amen!

  3. This episode of Betsy Bird’s Fuse 8 & Kate podcast was VERY well received in my household. My husband loved the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, while I was thrilled to hear Erica Perl as a guest, to have a Jewish book discussed (and named as a classic), and to hear the Sydney Taylor Book Award mentioned! Woohoo!