I've been traveling around much too much, and when I was in O"Hare yesterday waiting for a plane, I saw a small child having a tantrum and screaming, and thought: I want to do that.
.....the writer of fiction, the one who takes the work seriously, as I do, tries very hard to create narrative that is real and thought-provoking. The job of creating believable fictional characters is not easy. But one thing that is essential to the task is that they act and move and speak the way a real person in real circumstances would.
So Uncle Henrik, in NUMBER THE STARS, says "damn Nazis." Picture his circumstances. He lives in a country that has cherished its integrity and cared about its citizens for hundreds of years. Now his friends and neighbors are in danger of being murdered. He is adult, angry, anguished, impassioned. How would he speak? That was the task I was faced with as the author.
Using language in the voice of a fictional character doesn't mean the author speaks that way, or that the reader should. It means only that the character comes alive on the page, and the reader - even a very young reader - can become deeply involved in the story and react to it from the heart.
NUMBER THE STARS is a story about human integrity. For seventeen years it has been used in schools not only across the USA but in 22 other countries. Countless children have written to me over the years to tell me that it has affected their feelings toward others, that it has taught them to try to live without prejudice. In order for them to feel that way, they have to believe in the narrative and to understand the passion and anguish of the characters...