Off the Shelf: Conversations with Authors of Children’s Books

The Family Development Early Intervention team is always on the look-out for quality children’s books that help address some of the unique needs of military children.

The following is an interview with Brenda Ehrmantraut, author of several children’s books, including Night Catch, a story for military children facing the deployment of a parent.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Night Catch (Published by Bubble Gum Press)
Night Catch (Published by Bubble Gum Press)

What, if any, experiences do you and/or your book’s illustrator have with the military?

I’m a civilian! However, the book was inspired when my brother served in The Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2004.

What made you decide to write this book? Was there some incident or experience with the military that inspired you?

When a community sends a National Guard Unit off, there is an indescribable feeling of bonding. Everyone wants to step up to help. When my brother deployed, I felt overwhelmed with feelings of fear and helplessness. I wanted to do something, and writing a book was my answer. I was worried about him being away from his family for a year.

What message(s) do you hope that children and families receive as a result of reading your book?

My greatest desire in writing it was to offer comfort and hope to families in times of separation and stress. The book was deliberately designed to have a calming effect. The rhyme is a soothing technique, like a bedtime rock-a-bye. The pictures, and story, play with fantasy a bit, but also are relatable to a child. Here’s a bedroom. Here’s a house with a mother. And even though the star cannot actually be moved, the game of blowing it back and forth each night is a tangible connection for a young child.

Have you received any feedback from military families after they read your book, and if so, what have they said?

I hear from a lot of families who read the story while they are apart. It doesn’t seem to have an age limit. I’ve heard of dads in tears, a 5th grader who carried it around in his school backpack the year his dad was gone, and even parents who have children in the military and they are keeping a copy of the book handy. Connection seems to speak to everyone.

Are there any other books for military children that you would suggest for young children?

The Military Child Education Coalition has a program called, “Tell Me a Story” which promotes reading in military families. Night Catch is one of the books included in their reading list.

This post was edited by Robyn DiPietro-Wells & Michaelene Ostrosky, PhD, members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and YouTube.

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