Rotem Moscovich: Editor, Bookbinder, and Jazz Dancer

Rotem Moscovich is brilliant. I know this for a fact, because as an editor at Disney*Hyperion she read a manuscript of mine and immediately saw its immense value and signed it up for publication. Also because she wrote her undergraduate thesis on Harry Potter, though only 5 books had been published at the time (and received the award for Best Thesis in the Comparative Literature Department that year! I mean, she’s supposed to flaunt being smart, right?).

Professionally, Rotem works primarily on picture books and middle grade novels. Privately, she loves to bake. She loves bookbinding. And she loves office supplies. (That last one may earn her the Nerdy Chick of the Week Award!)

Rotem admits that she was incredibly uncoordinated as a child (and still is very klutzy, according to her), but she did Jazz Dance for 8 years and by the end of it, in her own words, “I wasn’t terrible! Entering a dance studio now does induce a sense of panic, though…”

Rotem, we appreciate you joining us today, and as a thank you gesture, we won’t make you dance for us at all! Let’s start with your life as a PROFESSIONAL CHILDREN’S BOOK EDITOR. What are your favorite things to read?

Ohhh so many things, when I’m not reading submissions. I recently read Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea with my book club and it was everything a middle grade novel should be, with incredibly drawn characters, an integral setting, and a narrator that you know will take you through this smart, nuanced story about what’s important in life and in the education of a person. But I also love to dip into trashy magazines, YA novels with social criticism (especially feminist ones), and I’m always checking out the latest picture books at the many wonderful indie bookstores in Brooklyn.

Here at, we love independent bookstores, too! So, you do a lot of reading even outside your job…How do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)?

From picture books through YA, I think many books today try to invert the roles traditionally given to girls. I mean, think of Hermione! The thing is, it’s more complicated than one aspect or another (also, there’s book smart and there’s socially smart, and both are worthy and important), and girls need parents, teachers, and friends who can help them come to their own understanding of the girl characters presented to them. They might like one aspect of the portrayal, but have an issue with another. Being able to see media with a critical eye (as well as an appreciative one) is the key.

What do you look for in a story when you are acquiring books for girls?

I look for a girl with agency, and a girl with courage (even if that’s something that she must acquire over the course of the story). Or if the main character is not a girl (not all books for girls have girls as their main character!), then I’d look for the female characters to be multifaceted. And of course, inspiring writing.

Oh, so I need to learn to write well? OK. I can work on that. 🙂

Let’s shift gears a bit and get away from all that work stuff…I was pretty nerdy in middle school and high school (I won’t make you tell us whether you were, too). But those years can be tough for anyone. If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Stay the course! You’ll know who your true friends are.

That’s really great advice. It isn’t easy to do, but worth it in the end. Another gear shift: As our newest Nerdy Chick, what is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick?

Well, gosh, this is going to sound extremely nerdy, but it’s my master’s degree in Children’s Literature from the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature. It was an intense, incredibly rewarding two years where much time was spent engaging in discussions with other wonderful nerdy chicks. I worked my butt off.

Wow! Even more brilliant than I initially gave you credit for! But no more work – what’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

Is sewing still considered nerdy, or has that passed over into hip? Well, either way, I like to sew and make stuff—the satisfaction of creating a thing when said thing did not exist before . . . I can’t get enough. Also, I love being read to. Why should small children get all the fun?

I agree! I think we should be read to as adults – and get nap time. Nap time would lead to fewer wars, I think. This has been such a great interview. I just have one more question, and it’s very important:  if you could rewrite the ending of a favorite fairy tale, which one would you change, and why?

Yikes, this is a tough one! I guess Snow White—though really it’s the whole premise of “the fairest one of all” being the most important thing, not just the ending (though it is rather creepy that the prince wants Snow White in her glass coffin so badly. What for?!).

Thank you again, Rotem, for joining us here on — you are truly a Nerdy Chick of Note!

Aimee Friedman: Editor, Writer, Trivia Contender

Scholastic Senior Editor Aimee Friedman signing her book Sea Change.

A self-professed nerdy chick, Aimee Friedman is not only a brilliant Senior Editor at Scholastic, but she is also a New York Times bestselling author. Aimee has amazing vision on how to arrange words in a way that makes good better and better best. Maybe this is because she knows a lot more words than the average chick! In addition to being fluent in French, Aimee also speaks a bit of Russian, Hungarian, and Yiddish. I was amazed at the insight Aimee had when it came to my manuscript and I’m so glad that my book was on the receiving end of her brain power!

What is your favorite way to flaunt your brain power?

I’m a huge trivia buff! I kick butt and take names at Trivial Pursuit (could be my friends find me slightly annoying when this happens, but what can you do?). I’m a big fan of brain-y games in general, whether it’s Apples to Apples or Taboo (all games I highly recommend for nerdy chicks everywhere!). It’s also a lifelong dream of mine to appear on Jeopardy!  Maybe some day…

Tell us about a time when nerdiness turned out to be an advantage.

I was a straight-A student in junior high, a time when it wasn’t always the coolest thing to be the best in the class (in fact, I remember some fellow classmates of mine, who were actually intelligent, pretending to be bad students, which infuriated me even then!). In eighth grade, I took an exam that allowed me entrance to the Bronx High School of Science, a fantastic public school in New York City that seriously values brain power! I remember the feeling of relief, upon starting ninth grade and learning that hey—in this school, nerdy can equal cool. It was a great experience. 

If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Things will come to you when you are ready for them (be they boyfriends, certain experiences, certain achievements). Also: keep writing!

Tell us about a fictitious chick you admire and why you admire her.

Well, I may be a bit biased, but I am a big fan of Kara McAllister, star of THE BOY PROJECT. She is smart and motivated but also a fun, sweet, relatable character who shows us that you can be super-brainy and still daydream about boys (and end up with a terrific boy!).  (Awww, thanks Aimee! It didn’t cross my mind that you might say that… maybe because Kara seems so real to me that I forget she’s fictitious!)


Do you have a favorite female role model?

My mom. She is super-smart. She speaks five languages fluently (for real!) and reads more books in one week than I probably can in a year. She’s also, most importantly, an awesome, caring, and encouraging mom. Definitely my inspiration!  

Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please!

Well, my favorite hobby is writing! The problem is, I worry that it can’t actually be a hobby when it’s also my job. (In addition to my job as an editor, which I also love). Still, writing is my favorite way to pass the time, and in many ways, that’s what one should hope for in life—getting to do for work what they also do for love. 

My favorite hobby is writing too! To find out more about what Aimee likes and what she writes visit her website