David Adler is the much-loved author of over 200 books for children, including the iconic Cam Jansen Series. David’s writing career was inspired by his curious three-year-old nephew whose questions led to David’s first book, A Little At A Time (Random House) which is being released with new art in 2010 by Holiday House. His latest book, Don’t Talk To Me About The War (Viking) is a touching middle-grade novel about a young boy’s life in New York during World War II. I have been a huge fan of David’s books for many years, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to chat with him about Don’t Talk To Me About The War.
What was your inspiration for Don’t Talk To Me About The War?
Writing Don’t Talk To Me About The War was a real process. It began with my fascination with the time between WW I and WW II. I had already written one very successful book of historical fiction about that time period, The Babe and I, a picture book featuring an encounter with Babe Ruth. The book won may awards including a Golden Kite Honor Award and the California Medal. Don’t Talk To Me About The War began for me with the idea to fashion a story on one boy and his family’s reaction to Roosevelt’s fireside chats. After all, so much has been said and written about those talks, how families gathered by their radios to listen. Well, how did they react? That idea proved unworkable. The chats were too infrequent, only about once every six months. Instead I began with the 1940 rescue at Dunkirk, two views, one of a girl wrapped up in the horror of the trapped soldiers and her best friend Tommy who feels it’s all happening so far away, across the ocean, and means very little to him. But more is happening in Tommy’s life. There’s baseball and his favorite team the Brooklyn Dodgers, radio, his friend Beth whose mother recently died and whose father works in the press room of the New York Daily Mirror, their friend Sarah’s escape from Nazi-held Europe, and Tommy’s mother’s medical issues. It’s a coming-of-age story as Tommy assumes more responsibilities at home as his mother becomes less able to care for Tommy and his father.
Was any research involved?
Oh, yes! I began with a calendar. I always knew what day it was in my story: May 23, 1940; May 24, 1940; May 25, 1940. And as I wrote I had that day’s newspaper on my desk. If I wrote the Dodgers won that day, they did. The score and the details of the game in the book are accurate. The radio schedule and the weather is also accurate. The news reports about the rescue at Dunkirk are accurate, too, even the slow pace the full news reached the United States. Also, for Tommy’s mother’s illness I consulted old medical texts and a woman whose mother was diagnosed in 1939 with the same illness. I didn’t want to know how it’s treated today. I needed to know how it was diagnosed and treated in 1940.
Are you working on anything new?
Of course! I am working on an older level biography, similar in approach to my B. Franklin, Printer and George Washington: An Illustrated Biography. There are also Cam Jansen, Young Cam Jansen, and Jeffrey Bones mysteries in the works as well as another book of historical fiction.
David, it’s been an honor to have you visit my blog!
For more information about David Adler and his books, please visit http://www.davidaadler.com/