Welcome to a new series here on the blog: Three Questions With... In each installment we ask a different PJ Library author or illustrator questions about their work, their process, interests, etc... Our first piece features Jennifer Rosner, author of The Mitten String.
Tell us about your inspiration for the characters in The Mitten String. Are any of them based on individuals you know?
Ruthie isn't based on a real-life person, but Bayla is! Her character is based on my deaf great-great aunt (also named Bayla) who tied a string from her wrist to her baby's in the night. If her baby cried or fussed, she felt his tug on the string and woke to care for him.
Bayla has been an inspiration of mothering for me, and I am happy I could share her story, in picture book form, with children. I also write about Bayla in my memoir, If A Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard
. My own daughters are deaf; learning about the deaf ancestors in my family and the innovative ways they stayed attuned to their children has been very important to me as a mom.
What are the lessons you hope parents and children take away from The Mitten String?
We can always find a way to connect to each other. Bayla can't hear her baby's cry, but that doesn't stop her from caring for Aaron through the night. She innovates a different way to stay attuned to him. Also, we can help one another. Ruthie notices that Aaron's hands get chilly, so she knits mittens for him and Bayla, and ties them together with string. That way, Bayla and Aaron can stay connected and
warm on cold nights.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family - my husband, our two daughters, our two collies, and our rabbit! Also, I enjoy reading, taking walks with friends, drinking my favorite tea (golden yunnan), and nibbling on dark chocolate chips. I'm also
writing a novel (tentatively titled HIDDEN
) about a mother and her daughter in hiding during WWII. The novel explores themes of human courage and strength, creativity and doubt, and the incalculable human cost of the Shoah
Jennifer Rosner is author of the memoir, If A Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard, and the picture books, The Mitten String and The Candlewick (forthcoming). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, The Jewish Daily Forward, The Massachusetts Review, Wondertime Magazine, and elsewhere. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her family.
March 15, 2016