Making Too Many Latkes: An Interview with Richard Codor

Brand new for Hanukkah, Richard Codor’s Too Many Latkes tells the tale of a mysterious man and the mayhem that ensues when he gives a magic potato to a family that needs a little help celebrating Hanukkah. Find out about his creative process, his talented family, and his latke preferences. Then get ready to make your own latkes from our recipe in the menu on the right.


Where did you get your idea for “Too Many Latkes”?

My mother would always say at Hanukkah, “We’re going to make a mountain of latkes.” And to finish them all we would have to invite all our relatives, our friends, our neighbors, the congregation and on and on. The story that influenced me most in writing “Latkes” was “Jack and the Bean Stalk.” I substituted the potato for the “magic” beans and my wife’s delicious latkes for the beanstalk. I also put in my kids’ ability to sleep through anything!

What was the hardest part of creating this story?

My ideas usually grow out of my own life experiences, yet taking the ideas and images in my head and building them into a story that has an interesting beginning, an exciting middle, and a satisfying end was hard. Making the characters come alive in the story was the most challenging.

How did you come up with Dad’s profession as the Eraser Supervisor for the Tip Top Pencil Company?

When I draw with pencils, I absent-mindedly chew on the rubber eraser. Inevitably, the erasers fall out or are too chewed up to use. I always say to myself, they don’t make them like they used to. They need better supervision.

How do you create your illustrations? Do you draw them out by hand or do you create them digitally?

I grew up working with pencils, pens, and watercolor but now I use all the digital tools on my computer. I originally illustrated “Too Many Latkes!” with black markers on a big pad of newsprint and told the story as a flipbook at our annual Hanukkah parties. When I decided to make the book, I scanned the drawings and transferred them to my computer, where I colored them and made touch ups.

How did you get started as an author and illustrator? Do you come from an ‘artistic’ family?

My mother was a respected and admired painter in Wilmington, Delaware and our home was covered with her work. When I was nine years old I wrote and drew a story about a cowboy, his horse, his girlfriend, and an evil villain. It still makes sense today.

I was always doodling in class when I should have been paying attention to my studies. I published my first cartoons in my school newspapers. I received a degree in graphic arts from the University of Delaware, but my real education came from reading and copying the drawings in early Mad magazine, comic books, newspapers, and animation.   

Your daughter is an award-winning furniture designer—what other talents do your family members have?

I like to say that my family makes art by the pound. My daughter, Tamara, is a painter and studied scenic design. She works in interior design and has launched her first line of furniture. My son, Ronen, a musician, is putting the final touches on his second album. His day job is in feature film production.

My wife, Liora is an art photographer and painter in her own right and works as a senior photographer at Macy’s.

So, do you prefer your latkes crispy or soft?

Latkes should be crispy on the outside but light and soft on the inside.

Hand grated or food processor?

Well, handmade is always best but when you have to feed the whole “mishpucha,” turn on the food processor!

Anything else ?

I hope you’ll all enjoy “Too Many Latkes!”

Richard Codor, the author and illustrator of Too Many Latkes, is also the illustrator of “All You Wanted to Know about Sabbath Services” by Sammy Barth and the creator of “The Joyous Haggadah.” He lives in Brooklyn, NY.