Q: How were you inspired to write a story about this little piece of history--the Knit Your Bit campaign for soldiers during WWI?
A: I am fascinated by stories of ordinary people in history, and also intrigued by historical photographs. Years ago I worked at the American Red Cross in Honolulu and learned about the home front efforts to knit for soldiers. That drew me to learn more about the social history of knitting in America and the result is Knit Your Bit!
Q: Are you a knitter yourself? Or perhaps a family member? If so, did that play a role in your inspiration for this story?
A: I actually do love to knit and I love yarn stores. But there is a big caveat to this – I am, quite honestly, not very good. I knit for relaxation only and I’m a bit like Mikey in the book – I keep dropping stitches! So I am content to knit scarves for myself – or for friends who can’t knit at all and so are a bit more forgiving of mistakes. I have a number of friends who are wonderfully accomplished knitters and the book is dedicated to them.
Q: Knit Your Bit tells the story of those at the home front during war. Do you hope that this book will be read by those children with moms and dads in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere? Will you be doing any special outreach to military families?
A: One of the wonderful things about the “Knit Your Bit” tradition is that it continues today. The book is already featured on a blog called “Deployment Diatribes,” http://deploymentdiatribes.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/knit-your-bit/
For more information about current Knit Your Bit projects check out:
The National WWII Museum
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your research process for this book.
A: I consulted a couple of books that detail the history of knitting; No Idle Hands, The Social History of American Knitting by Anne Macdonald (Ballantine Books 1988) was especially helpful. You can also read the actual New York Times report on the Central Park Knitting Bee (“Many Enter Knitting Bee”) at http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F30915F73F5A11738DDDA90B94DF405B888DF1D3
And there is a great article on HistoyLink.org at: http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5721
Q: I loved the illustrations by Steven Guarnaccia, which gave the story a real period feel. In fact, the illustrations reminded me of the TinTin comics. Can you comment about how the illustrations contribute to your text?
A: I absolutely agree! I love how Steven’s artwork complements the wonderful graphic style of the period. The Red Cross posters of the time were part of what drew me to the story, so when you add the historical photos on the endpapers along with the art and the poster in the note, it all seems to come together to give young readers both a sense that this did happen in a different time, but that some things remain the same.
Q: Please give us a brief preview of your upcoming book, The Great Trouble. And can you share with us some of the projects you have coming up?
A: The Great Trouble, A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, is middle grade historical fiction about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London. I tried to give the story a Dickensian feel, while at the same time celebrate the pioneering public health work of Dr. John Snow, who was born 200 years ago, in 1813. I think kids will enjoy it. I am also working on projects about Beatrix Potter and World War II.
To find out more about my books I hope readers will visit me on the web at: www.deborahhopkinson.com or look at my Pinterest boards at:
Thanks again to Deborah Hopkinson for appearing at The Fourth Musketeer. For other stops on her Knit Your Bit Blog Tour please check www.deborahhopkinson.com.