Readers get headstart on book about Gilgamesh
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Readers get headstart on book about Gilgamesh

Jerusalem author Shirley Graetz turns to crowdsourcing to fund young reader series

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

The cuneiform tablets used by Gilgamesh, and introduced by writer Shirley Graetz in her chapter book series (Courtesy Uriel Zohar)
The cuneiform tablets used by Gilgamesh, and introduced by writer Shirley Graetz in her chapter book series (Courtesy Uriel Zohar)

Remember the adventures of Gilgamesh, the Akkadian demigod?

Shirley Graetz, the Jerusalem-based writer and creator of the elementary school-age hero, is back with the second book in the series, “Gilgamesh and the Underworld,” and she’s crowdsourcing some financial help, having self-published the successful chapter book the first time.

Using the Headstart crowdfunding site, Graetz is hoping to raise close to NIS 30,000 (nearly $8,000), offering books, personalized inscriptions, lessons in cuneiform — the ancient writing she uses in the “Gilgamesh” series — and three of the original illustrations by Uri Zohar, as some of the crowdsourcing rewards.

“There was really no other way to fund this,” said Graetz, who invested her own money in the first book, “Young Gilgamesh and the Enchanted Garden.”

She found an eager, interested audience at the many bookstore, school and museum readings she has done over the course of the last year.

The young demigod Gilgamesh, in Shirley Graetz's second volume of the series, 'Gilgamesh at the Underworld' (Courtesy Uriel Zohar)
The young demigod Gilgamesh, in Shirley Graetz’s second volume of the series, ‘Gilgamesh at the Underworld’ (Courtesy Uriel Zohar)

In the first book, the young Gilgamesh, who is a king, is introduced to readers, and then embarks on the first of many adventures, landing in an enchanted garden but eager to get home.

In this next book, the demigod needs to find the magic stone that will get him home, but finds himself mired in a magical, ancient underworld full of mystery, adventures, and cuneiform riddles that Graetz helpfully creates for her young readers.

The author discovered that her young fans loved deciphering the simple cuneiform sentences and chapter headings that she created in the first book.

She’s added more in this second volume.

Shirley Graetz, whose academic research led her to fiction works for kids and young adults (Courtesy Eitan Herman)
Shirley Graetz, whose academic research led her to fiction works for kids and young adults (Courtesy Eitan Herman)

This second volume of Gilgamesh’s adventures is just about complete, said Graetz.

It should be ready at the beginning of May 2017.

In the meantime, readers anxious for the next Gilgamesh book can go to the Headstart campaign, and order the next book in the series.

“They’ll be the first ones to read it when it’s off the press,” said Graetz.

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