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 Patrice Karst, the author of The Invisible String. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What, if any, experiences do you and/or your book’s illustrator have with the military?
I have no experience with the military. In fact, I had no idea what military family life was like until military readers and organizations began to write to me. They shared how The Invisible String had changed the lives of both their deployed loved ones and their families at home. The book also gave families a tangible reference to use to describe their love for each other and the ways in which they were always connected no matter how far away they were or for how long they were separated. Readers informed me that my book had real life implications as separation anxiety experienced by their children abated as they began to understand that there is really an invisible string. It helped all members of the family, including extended family members.
What made you decide to write this book? Was there some incident or experience that inspired you?
When I was a single working mother, my son Elijah suffered horrible separation anxiety and would cry whenever I had to leave him to go to work. So, around age 5 or 6 I began to tell him that we were connected all day long by an invisible string and when we missed each other, all we had to do was tug on our end of the string and the other person would feel it and could tug back. When he heard about the string, he stopped crying and all his friends wanted to know if the string was real. I told them the same story and their separation anxiety disappeared too. I knew this was a special message that needed to be spread far and wide. For children the idea of an invisible string gives them a tangible understanding of what love actually is – an invisible string that connects us to those we love.
What message(s) do you hope that children and families receive as a result of reading your book?
I hope that readersrealize that love is FOREVER and it transcends time and space…that it can even go to h We are always connected to those that we love and we will be connected as long as love is in our hearts. I hope readers understand that no one is ever all alone. We have so many invisible strings. For military families with deployed loved ones,and for the deployed service member, this book is a reminder that they are just one tug away…on the invisible string. For those families who lose a loved one in service, the book is a reminder that their invisible string connects them forever.
Have you received any feedback from military families after they read your book, and if so, what have they said?
Yes, yes, yes! Military families have said the book has brought them and their families great comfort during the stressful, painful long periods of separation they often face. They also have shared that even though they may be far away from family and friends due to their frequent moves, they are still always connected by an invisible string.
Do you have plans to write another book? If so, what is the focus of that book and when might we expect to see it?
I am so excited to announce that Little Brown Publishers for Young Readers in New York has just bought The Invisible String as a series! Look for the paperback version of The Invisible String on October 30, 2018; it can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. Next year a dynamic workbook based on The Invisible String will be released. The workbook was written by art therapist, Dana Wyss, Ph.D. and me. Also, next year, The Invisible Leash will be released. This story is about our forever connection to the animals that we love and sadly eventually lose. In 2020 The Invisible Web will be released. This is the story of what happens when the children of the world spread the word about our invisible strings and we all realize that we are really living in a large invisible web made from love. I also have some new children’s books that I hope to publish. My spiritual book, God Made Easy, will hopefully be republished, as well as, The Single Mother’s Survival Guide. Additionally, I am currently editing a memoir about my life story of how I went from being an abused little girl in London to a best-selling children’s author.
Are there any other books that might be relevant for young military children that you would suggest?
I wish I could tell you that I was well versed on other children’s books that are relevant to the military, but I really am not aware of them. However, my other children’s book The Smile That Went Around the World, has a great message about the power of a smile to change people’s lives and addresses the ways that smiles can traverse the whole planet!
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, onTwitter, and YouTube.