"Blink your eyes and say click!" Cam Jansen, David Adler's heroine with a photographic memory, has captured the imagination of millions of readers. The prolific Alder has also written several picture book biographies for children, bringing historical figures to literary life. In this exclusive video interview with Reading Rockets, David Adler discusses the "Supermarket Room" of his teaching career, simple math methods, and the reason why Benjamin Franklin never wore a wig.
You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on David Adler, or see a selected list of his children's books. (This video is also available on YouTube and iTunes.)
The Story Begins
David Adler, author of fiction and nonfiction books for young readers, didn't always dream of becoming a writer. As a young boy, he wanted to be an illustrator. His parents encouraged their six children to all be individuals, as a way to minimize any sibling rivalry. David was the family artist. His drawings, paintings and funny signs were displayed all over the Adler home. He often told original stories to his four younger siblings.
Upon graduating from Queens College with a B.A. in economics and education, David became an elementary math teacher, a writer for a financial newsletter, and a senior editor of books of young readers at a publishing house. He soon received his MBA at New York University.
The Birth of a Son, and a Writer
While working on his Ph.D. in marketing, Adler's inquisitive three-year old nephew inspired him to write his first book, A Little at a Time. In the story, a grandfather explains to his grandson that things grow and change… a little at a time.
After the birth of his first son, David took child-care leave from teaching to stay at home. In between changing diapers, naps, and feedings, this new stay-at-home dad found time to switch his career focus from marketing to writing. After months of work, Cam Jansen was born – "Click!".
The series chronicles the adventures of the heroine, Cam, and was inspired by one of Adler's first grade classmates who, like Cam, had a photographic memory. Readers across the globe try to solve Cam's mysteries before the heroine lays out the solution for them.
David Adler quickly moved beyond chronicling fictional adventures. He decided to bring to life the adventures of historical figures. His first biography, Our Golda, The Life of Golda Meir, was followed by the picture book biography series, which covers the life chronicles of sports icons (Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson), U.S. Presidents (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln), political activists (Benjamin Franklin and Martin Luther King, Jr.), and other important individuals. Additionally, he has tackled topics that may be difficult for younger children to handle. For example, We Remember the Holocaust deals with first-hand accounts from survivors of World War II Nazi death camps, told from a child's perspective.
The Story Continues
David Adler continues to create wonderful work – in many mediums and genres. Outside of fictional series and picture book biographies, David also writes nonfiction titles on science, history, math, and holidays. Plus, being an artist at heart, he has had more than 200 of his illustrations published in various magazines and newspapers.
David's motto is "Don't Think! Just Write!" and it inspires him to get his words down on paper first, and edit them later. "For me, stories evolve. Writing is a process. I rewrite each sentence, each manuscript, many times."