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The Joys of TWO NEW YEARS by Richard Ho and Lynn Scurfield



Five Questions with Richard Ho, Author of TWO NEW YEARS


From idea to pub date, how long did it take to cook up your book? 

[Richard Ho] It was almost four years to the day that I first sent the manuscript to my agent! The thought of writing a book about my dual Chinese and Jewish identity had been simmering for a while, but it wasn’t until December 2019 that I came up with the idea for Two New Years. It took about two months to cook up a first draft, which I sent to my agent in February 2020. Six months later, it sold to Chronicle! From there, it was another year until the amazing Lynn Scurfield signed on as illustrator, and then two more years to publication. So all told, a four-year cooking process.


Describe your book in 3 words.

[RH] Celebrate across cultures.


What “ingredients” make a kidlit book “delicious” to you? 

[RH] A seamless blend of words and images. A story and characters that are mirrors, allowing readers to see themselves in the pages. And joy!


What food or recipe evokes a strong memory for you? 

[RH] Since we’re in the middle of Chinese New Year, I’ll go with a Chinese favorite from my childhood: roast duck.


What book evokes a strong memory for you? 

[RH] I have strong memories of reading Curious George books growing up, which has some delightful symmetry because years later, the very first book my wife and I bought when we were putting together a library for our oldest son was Happy Hannukah, Curious George



Two Questions about the Book with Audrey and Gennie


What’s your favorite ingredient of this story?  

[Audrey Perrott] I love the intersection of this book and there are so many wonderful aspects of it that it’s hard to pick just one ingredient; however, the most brilliant aspect of it for me is the parallel storytelling structure Richard uses to show the similarities between the two different celebrations from two different cultures. The expertise at which Richard creates a poetic back and forth and common ground is skillfully structured to show that we are more alike than we are different in a clear but gentle and poignant manner that feels all the more important these days.


[Gennie Gorback] This book is gorgeous from start to finish. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and have fond memories of going into San Francisco’s Chinatown to watch the Lunar New Year parade. I loved reading about the many commonalities between the cultural practices of Rosh Hashanah and Lunar New Year, which I had never considered before reading this book. 


What food did this story inspire you to make? 

[AP] My family celebrates Lunar New Year and other Chinese holidays to honor my daughter’s birth country, culture, and ancestors. As the timing of this project and book landed right at Lunar New Year, I took advantage of the fact that I already make longevity noodles to celebrate (I hope that’s not cheating)! We give our kids lucky money and new clothes each year (though they are more excited by the money than the clothes these days). Thanks to this book, and Gennie’s recipe, I am very eager to make her grandmother’s rugelach in an allergy-friendly alteration for my family!


[GG] I made my grandmother’s rugelach recipe. Rugelach is a Yiddish word that means “little twists.” It can be pronounced in a variety of ways, most commonly rug-e-luh, roo-ga-lah, or rug-a-laachk. Rugelach is a rolled cookie that can have pretty much any filling! This recipe is for Apples and Honey Rugelach for Rosh Hashanah. I created an apple, honey and walnut filling which is a symbolic representation of the hope for a sweet new year!

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3 Comments


Brittany Pomales
Brittany Pomales
Feb 28

Oh! I love this interview format. Can’t wait to read upcoming interviews.

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Steena Hernandez
Steena Hernandez
Feb 22

Enjoyed this interview! Thanks for sharing this wonderful book and the delicious recipes! :)

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Lindsey Hobson
Feb 20

Wonderful interview! Sounds like an amazing book!

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