A series of unexpected events led Bindy Bitterman to write and publish her first book. (Photo: Wendi Kromash)

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As the owner of Eureka! Antiques & Collectibles, Bindy Bitterman was an Evanston doyenne for many years. Now approaching her 91st birthday, she is a first-time children’s book author.

“Skiddly Diddly Skat,” which comprises a series of limericks, took about five years to develop from idea to finished product. Bitterman had always written limericks, but one day the phrase “skiddly diddly skat” popped into her head. “Oh, that has a certain ring to it. I kind of like it. And I just wrote. I don’t know what I wrote, but anyway it kept growing and growing,” she said.

During the spring of 2018, she attended a course at the Newberry Library on writing children’s books, led by Esther Hershenhorn, a well-known children’s book author. “I had met and liked Esther – she is kind of like a Jewish mother. … I revised the text four times until it was the length it is now, until one day she said, ‘Bindy, you have a book. Go publish!’”

Bitterman tried for the better part of a year to find an agent. She contacted many agents but none of them were interested. But then something magical happened.

“I broke my computer because I spilled coffee in it. When the data was recovered, I found this note that had been sent in the year 2000, when I wouldn’t have been at all interested. It was from a fine artist that we knew because my husband was an artist and they had done shows together and we had become friends,” Bitterman recalled.

“Rich Sigberman lives in the San Francisco area, and he was now doing children’s book illustrations. If I hadn’t spilled coffee at the computer, I would never have known that! I wrote to him after all these years, and he sent me some samples of his work. When I saw them, I realized he would be wonderful to illustrate the book. His illustrations sell the book.”

By that point, Bitterman had decided to pursue publishing the book herself. She found a printer who suggested she include a QR code in the book with a recording of Bitterman reading it. She agreed.

The book is now in its second printing. Bitterman fulfills the orders herself with the help of some young people who drive her to bookstores and the post office. She reaches out to small independent bookstores, but many of them refuse to sell books that are self-published. She could probably sell more if she sold it through Amazon.com, but she refuses, saying that Amazon undercuts the prices of independent bookstores.

Bitterman, who now lives at the Admiral on the Lake in Chicago, currently spends most of her free time promoting “Skiddly Diddly Skat.” She also exercises almost every day, takes a theater class once a month, lobbies government officials through a weekly postcard writing group and participates in a weekly memoir-writing class. She is also an avid theatergoer, and not just because her son Adam is a busy actor in the Chicago theater scene. In addition to Adam, Bindy has an active family life with two daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her husband Richard was an artist and jewelry maker who passed away in 2012. A third daughter passed away in 2012.

Bitterman is on the Admiral’s programming committee and part of a group that welcomes new residents. Her guests know to allot extra time when walking with Bitterman through the Admiral: she knows and will talk to almost everyone – staff, residents, even guests of other residents. She has a smile and kind word for everyone.

To buy a copy of “Skiddly Diddly Skat,” visit Booked Evanston, 506 Main St., www.bookedevanston.com.

Wendi Kromash

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

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  1. I want to purchase this book for my nephews. “Skiddly Diddly Skat”

    How do I go about doing that? What is the price? Your article leaves out that information.