Author’s Notebook | David Adler

Author David A. Adler has written more than 200 books. I first met David at the annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Conference and was impressed with his overall knowledge and skill. I had been reading his picture book biographies for a while.

David says about his own writing, “For me writing is a process. I begin with story idea, with the main characters, and the setting. I struggle most with the “voice,” – how I will tell the story. For me writing involves constant revisions. It’s so much easier, I think, not to try and get the story just right in the first draft, to leave that for the second and third drafts. My best stories have been rewritten scores of times. ”

Here he graciously answers a few questions for readers of The Whole Megillah.

The Whole Megillah (TWM): You’ve become a master of the picture book biography. What drives your interest? How do you pick your subject? How do you go about your research?

David Adler (DA): The subject of a biography must be of interest to me and my editor and hopefully librarians.  The research varies depending on the subject.  My favorite resources are autobiographies, old newspapers, and family members.

TWM: You’ve also devoted several of your books to the Holocaust? What led to this? Can you comment on the statement we often hear from editors, “We don’t want any more Holocaust stories”?

DA: Editors have been saying that for decades, that they don’t want another Holocaust book.  I heard that before I wrote The Number on My Grandfather’s Arm but since that book was published I wrote and had eight more Holocaust books published.  Each new book on the Holocaust must add something to what has already been published.

TWM: How did you come up with Cam Jansen, girl photographer, and the mystery series?

DA: The idea for a character with a photographic memory came from a classmate of mine in elementary school who was rumored to have one.

TWM: Do you have an agent?

DA: I didn’t always have an agent, but I have one now.

TWM: How has the writing world changed since your first book, A Little at a Time, in 1976?

DA: The writing world keeps changing and that’s great for all of us.  If children wanted the same books today that they read fifty years ago there would be no need for new books — for our books.

TWM: Among the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite? Why?

DA: I have a long list of favorites.  Among the books on that list are Don’t Talk To Me About The War,  We Remember the Holocaust, A Little At A Time, One Yellow Daffodil, B. Franklin, Printer and others.

TWM: What is the greatest challenge that faces you as a writer?

DA: We’re all challenged to become better and better at our craft.

TWM: What single piece of advice would you give to writers of Jewish-themed children’s books today?

DA: Try to keep your writing from being too didactic.

About Barbara Krasner

History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults.
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6 Responses to Author’s Notebook | David Adler

  1. Adler is such a good writer and one who has written so much – maybe a 2nd interview which would go into more depth about sources, personal memorabilia of his subjects, and the biography genre & ebooks. Thanks, Pnina Moed Kass

    • David’s agreed to a second interview to answer more of your questions. If anyone wants to know more, just post your questions and I’ll see that they get answered. Thanks, Pnina and all The Whole Megillah readers!

  2. Great interview, Barbara. Thanks for sharing this with us. I see I have more reading to do! My list just gets longer.

  3. Thanks, Barbara! I really enjoyed “Don’t Talk to Me About the War.” And the Cam Jansen books are a lifesaver for us mamas with beginning chapter-book readers — it’s great to see boy-girl friendships portrayed in a chapter book, and it’s even better to have a smart, sweet, empowered-girl alternative to that farshtunkiner cutesy brat Junie B.

  4. Pingback: Author’s Notebook | David Adler, Part 2 | The Whole Megillah

  5. Thanks for the great interview! I love using Adler’s books with our students. One that he mentioned, “The Yellow Daffodil,” is a great book to use with middle to older grade students. As a librarian at a PreK to Grade 5 Jewish Day School, I especially appreciate that he writes stories that are not just the rudimentary “what this holiday means” but instead gets at some thoughful and thought-provoking issues.

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