© Yael Mermelstein 2018. Lovingly handcrafted by Amrita.

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Q&A with the Author

Where did you get the idea for this book?

This book is actually a compilation of stories about two characters I’d been writing about for a number of years in Mishpacha magazine. My editor Mimi Zakon from Artscroll actually approached me with the idea of putting together a book. Together we came up with the idea of using kid testers for the stories. I got to run the stories past a bunch of great kids with lots of opinions. They helped me to write this book.

 

How did they choose an illustrator?

The staff at Artscroll/Mesorah chose Avi Katz as my illustrator and I couldn’t be happier. He is quite a talent.

Interesting Tidbits about The Stupendous Adventures of Shragi and Shia:

We thought it would be cute to have pictures of the kid testers. I sent the artist photos of each of the kids and he drew a sketch based upon the pictures which appeared in the book. Each of the kids received a free self-portrait. The kids were amazed at how lifelike they were. Guess who one of the kid testers was? My son. Nepotism rules.

"Hey Shia, did you hear they wrote a book about us?"
"Really Shragi? About us? Why would anyone write a book about us?"
"I have no idea, Shia."

We know exactly why they wrote a book about Shragi and Shia. Because of all the things that twelve-year-old Shia, and his ten-year-old brother, Shragi, are:

■ They're adventurous (sometimes) 
■ They're daring (occasionally)
■ They're outrageous (once in a while)
■ They're helpful, kind, and well-behaved (as often as they can be)
■ They're fun (always!)

Whether they're helping people on their homemade bicycle-built-for-four, shopping for an elderly man and getting locked into the supermarket, or bringing exploding science projects to their father's office, Shragi and Shia's adventures are always exciting, filled with lessons and filled with fun.

You'll laugh and you'll learn as you enjoy these stories, each with its own illustration. After all, if we do say so ourselves - these stories are stupendous!

The Stupendous Adventures of Shragi & Shia
 

The Stupendous Adventures of Shragi & Shia
An Excerpt

SHRAGI AND SHIA RECLINE

Is there anything more boring than going furniture shopping? I don’t think so. Shia
thinks that counting the spots on a leopard would be even less entertaining but I rightfully
pointed out that it would be more dangerous. At least chairs don’t bite as per the last time I
checked.
In any event, do your parents ever decide to buy new furniture for no reason? I think
there is a guide for parents instructing them to get rid of furniture when it gets just worn enough
to make it comfortable. I could be wrong, but that’s why our family was spending our Sunday
afternoon at Fine’s Furniture.
“Do you like this recliner?” my mother asked my father.
“It’s bright red,” my father said.
“No it’s burgundy,” my mother replied.
“It looks like it has wings,” Shia said.
“Well then we can use it to take us on a vacation,” my mother said patting the sides of the
chair lovingly.
“Well then it would have to be a cruise,” I said. “Those arms look like sails.”
“Okay,” my mother said dejectedly. I guess nobody likes this chair. I thought it was nice.
We’ll find something else.”
I felt badly but what could we do? I’ve noticed that once words come out of your mouth
it’s nearly impossible to go collecting them back.
“Can you go find the other kids?” my father asked Shia and I. We didn’t need another
invitation. We went running past the bedroom sets and dinettes until we found Shira and
Shulamis walking with Shimmy by the light fixtures.
“Lollipop” Shimmy was screeching as the twins tried to convince him that it was just a
tinted light fixture. We ran back to tell our parents that all was okay but they weren’t by the
recliners anymore.
“Hey Shragi- look at this one!” Shia plopped down on a black leather recliner. I plopped
down right on top of him.
“Cozy,” I said.
“Not anymore,” Shia said as he popped up and I sprawled on the floor. We ran from
chair to chair.
“I want this one,” said Shia, lying across a tan leather couch with silver legs.
“Nah,” I said. “This one is just right.” I jumped on to a green couch that felt like my
favorite sweater.
“Ooh!” Shia cried. “Look at that recliner.”
It certainly was a sight - dark blue with a curvy seat that swiveled around, thicker than the
mattress on my bed. Shia and I looked at each other and then we made a run for it, jumping on
the chair at the same time.
CRACK!
“What was that?” Shia whispered.
“I don’t want to find out,” I whispered back.
CRACK!

The chair toppled over and Shia and I tumbled on to the floor.
“What was that? What’s going on here?”
Oh my goodness. It was Mr. Fine, the owner. I tried sliding under a couch. Maybe he
wouldn’t find us.
“Oy Gevalt,” Mr. Fine cried when he saw the chair. Model number 64RGH321 seems to
have broken.” Shia was sliding under the couch next to me. Then he must have had second
thoughts.
“Yes,” Shia said sheepishly as he stood up. “We sat on the chair and it broke. I’m really
sorry.”
I slid out from under the couch and looked at the owner of the store. Let’s just say that
Mr. Fine was not looking very fine at that moment. And then behind him I saw my parents
coming our way. At that moment I was wishing I were Korach I tell you.
“What happened?” my father asked. We all started talking at once.
Mr. Fine: “They broke the chair”
Me: “The chair broke”
Shia: (rubbing his leg) “The chair broke us”
“I’m so sorry,” my mother said. “We’ll have to reimburse you for the chair of course.”
My father looked at us and then at Mr. Fine. He beckoned Mr. Fine to the corner and
spoke with him quietly. Then my father whispered something to my mother and finally he
turned to us.
“Mr. Fine has agreed that you boys can pay off your debt by working in his store on
Sunday afternoons. He needs some help bringing odds and ends from the warehouse to the
showroom. A few Sunday afternoons is all it should take.”
What could we do?
The next Sunday afternoon Shia and I walked into Fine’s Furniture. If there’s anything
worse than going with your parents to a furniture store, it’s running back and forth from the
warehouse to the showroom with ottomans and end tables and footstools.
“Okay boys,” Mr. Fine finally said. “I think you ought to rest a bit. You can sit on one
of the chairs in the showroom, but no roughhousing!” As if he had to warn us! We had already
learned our lesson and we definitely didn’t want to be stuck lugging furniture forever. Shia sat
down on a forest green recliner with a high back and I chose a soft, black leather couch.
“Excuse me,” I heard somebody ask. I looked up. “Do you know who works here?” A
young couple with a baby was looking around, probably hoping to find Mr. Fine.
“I work here,” Shia said.
“So do I,” I said. “But you probably need Mr. Fine. He should be back any minute.”
“Well, you boys look pretty comfortable over here,” said the man. He looked at me. “Do
you like that couch you’re sitting on?”
I snuggled into the black leather.
“This couch is the perfect place to relax after a long day at work,” I said. “I feel like I
could sink right into dreamland.” The man sat down next to me.
“Well that’s exactly what I’m looking for,” he said. He leaned back and spread his arms
out behind his head. “Ah, this feels just right,” he said. I looked at Shia but he was busy playing
with the levers and buttons on his chair. I tried motioning to him to stop as we couldn’t afford as
much as a broken button. A lady with a fur stole around her neck came into the showroom
carrying a tiny little dog.

“Oh look at that,” she exclaimed as she watched the footrest pop up underneath Shia’s
legs. “That looks wonderful. Right Fifi?” She crooned into her dog’s ear.
“You don’t know the half of it,” Shia said. “When you press this button over here the
chair gives you a massage on your back and when you press this one the whole chair heats up –
great for those cold winter nights.
“How marvelous,” the woman said.
“And look,” Shia said, pulling a lever on the bottom that made the chair recline even
more. “You can go to sleep in it if you’re tired. You never have to move to your bed.”
“And there’s room for Fifi too,” the woman added. Mr. Fine strode into the store, headed
in our direction. No doubt he had another assignment for us. The young couple and the lady
with the stole all began talking at once.
Young couple and lady with stole: “We’ll take it.”
“What do you mean?” Mr. Fine asked.
“These wonderful salesboys showed us that this is exactly what I was looking for,” said
the young man, pointing to the black couch.
“And this is just what I need,” said the woman standing by the green chair. Smiling, Mr.
Fine showed them to the register. Then he came back to us.
“You boys don’t belong in the warehouse anymore,” he said. “You clearly belong in the
showroom selling my furniture.”
And that’s how Shia and I became Sunday afternoon salesmen at Fine’s furniture. Not
for too long as we weren’t really looking for a job, but long enough to pay back the debt we
owed to Mr. Fine. Oh, and we stayed on a few more weeks to earn enough to make a purchase at
the furniture store. You should have seen my mother’s face when that big red sailboat of a chair
showed up at the door with a pink ribbon wrapped around it. She hugged me so tight I thought I
would pop.
All in a day’s work.

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