Okay, so maybe I am a little prejudiced, but when a well-published children’s book author contacted me three years ago and said she planned to write a book about my mom, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, I was so excited! I’ve always found kids are fascinated (and grateful) when they discover that it was my mom who is credited with introducing kiwifruit to America in 1962. Honestly, who can imagine a world before kiwifruit?
Here’s how it happened. About three years ago, Mara Rockliff—an author of more than 75 children’s books—sent an ordinary email to our company. Mara had taken a trip to Israel organized by the nonprofit PJ Library for children’s authors and illustrators, and she was inspired to think about Jewish subjects she might write about. When she got back, she dug around and found an amazing resource called the “Jewish Women’s Archive,” and decided to scroll through the listing alphabetically. There are hundreds of women listed, so thank goodness my mom was listed under “Caplan”… near the front of the alpha listing. As luck would have it, the photo image under my mom’s listing was a green kiwifruit slice, not an image of her face like most everyone else’s!
That spurred Mara to research Frieda a bit more, and in the end, Frieda’s story was too intriguing to pass up! See more of why Mara decided to write the book here: Just Try It: An Interview with Mara Rockliff
As you can imagine, we get dozens of email inquiries every week through our website, mostly from consumers. I’ve always told our team that we treat every inquiry with equal importance. It didn’t take long for the message to make its way from our marketing team to me, and I immediately sent Mara an email.
From that moment on, Mara and I exchanged close to a dozen emails with her asking me all sorts of questions over the next 12 months. For instance:
- What was Frieda’s favorite color before the sign-painter painted her first company sign a light lavender?
- Why did Frieda never learn to cook?
- When Frieda said “I feel it in my elbows” about a product she is considering that she thinks will be a winner—does she mean that literally?
- Are artichokes and eggplant still her favorite vegetables? And is kiwi her favorite fruit? (Fun fact: my mom actually developed an allergy to kiwifruit and could not eat it! Mango was her favorite fruit.)
So, in early February it was with great joy that I received a large box containing two copies of “TRY IT! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat.” The book was completed in early 2020 and was finally published in hardcover format on January 12, 2021, by Beach Lane Books, a subsidiary of the huge publishing entity Simon & Schuster.Book Cover: Simon & Schuster Try-It! by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Giselle Potter
As I paged through the book and saw the hand-painted illustrations by Giselle Potter of my mom always in a purple dress (which is exactly how she dressed), talking with a buyer about a flat of brown, fuzzy kiwifruit—I got chills. There were pages loaded with images of her discoveries (like mangosteen in 2008, habanero peppers in 1990 and dragonfruit in 1994). Unreal!Frieda “feeling it in her elbows”
Mom at the L.A. Produce Market in the early days
To have my mom recognized by a complete industry outsider for her amazing contributions to changing the way America eats was mind boggling, and so gratifying. I never had a chance to tell mom about the book, as I wanted to surprise her with it after it was actually published. As you know, my mom passed away 14 months ago.
But as my sister Jackie and my eldest daughter Alex looked at the newly minted book, we knew exactly what mom would have wanted us to do.
And that is, to share the great news of this book during the week of our company anniversary. And that’s exactly why I have waited until this week to announce it.
This week, on April 2, we will be celebrating our 59th company anniversary! And what better way to celebrate than to tell all our friends about this amazing children’s book?
Because we think it is such a great story—full of inspiration for all ages, but especially for young children, we want to make sure it is a #1 best seller! There are many places you can purchase the book online, but because we want to make it an Amazon #1 best seller, we are asking all our friends to help us accomplish this by purchasing the book at the exact same day and time (this will help the algorithm recognize the book and push it to the top of the list!) I learned this technique from a book author who has had three Amazon #1 best sellers!
So, if you are so inclined, please click this link Try It! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat and purchase one or more copies of “TRY IT!” On Friday, April 2, at 9:00 a.m. PST (or 12:00 p.m. EST).
This book is not only a great tribute to the first lady of produce, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, but it is a great way to introduce a new generation of young kids to some of the weirdest looking fruits and veggies—dragonfruit, mangosteen, fresh lychee, starfruit, donut peaches, green cauliflower and purple asparagus.
When you receive your copy and read through it, I’m hoping you will get the same chills that Jackie, Alex and I got. It’s a fitting tribute to share with you on our company anniversary! And, in keeping with company tradition, know that we will be celebrating our anniversary the same way we do every year—by gathering our employees all together (physically distanced) and handing out purple-frosted cupcakes!Me, Mom and Alex celebrated our company anniversary a few years ago – with purple frosted cupcakes!
The book has already received rave reviews and is the perfect way to inspire the little ones in your life. For more information, please visit: Simon & Schuster Try-It! by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Giselle Potter and TRY IT! for yourself!
Enjoy and happy reading!
Reminder, if you are so inclined, please click this link Try It! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat and purchase one or more copies of “TRY IT!” On Friday, April 2, at 9:00 a.m. PST (or 12:00 p.m. EST) and help us make this book an Amazon #1 best seller.