Children experiencing divorce can feel a sense of loss as they adapt to new living arrangements and family dynamics. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater wrote That Missing Feeling about this experience, and shared insights about creating the book in this interview with Magination Press. Magination Press: What inspired you to write That Missing Feeling? Amy Ludwig VanDerwater: A few things. Many years ago, I taught a writing workshop in which a child said, "When I'm with my mom, I miss my dad. When I'm with my dad, I miss my mom. My brother and sister feel the same way." Then, when I was 40, my own parents divorced. Lastly, I visited a school a few years ago and talked about how we can write about what we miss in our notebooks. One little girl stayed to talk with me about missing her house since her parents were newly divorced. I gave her a pretty notebook that I had in the trunk of my car, and months later when I visited again, she told me she still had it. MP: Why do children need books about divorce? ALV: Children need books about everything...experiences they have had or may someday have, experiences their friends have, experiences they hear about. Books open our hearts and our heads and help us learn different ways to be. Divorce, while sometimes necessary, is a brokenness, and we humans need to make sense of things that are broken. MP: Why did you decide to have Mia’s grandpa give her a journal? ALV: I have kept a journal for many years, and this has gotten me through some happy and some tough spots. It seemed right that Mia's grandpa would figure out a helpful thing to do when he saw her suffering. Grandparents often just know. MP: People are feeling a lot of loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you think That Missing Feeling and journaling could be especially helpful right now? ALV: There are so many ways to handle missing feelings, and writing is one of them. Today I am missing my son, who will come home and eat dinner outside in 30 degree weather with us as we cannot safely have him in our home. I miss hugging my mother and seeing friends. All of us are experiencing different forms of missing, from in-person school to our normal jobs to what used to be simply routine. Journaling can help us get through rough patches, whether it is drawing or writing words or making collages. Feelings want to come out, and a notebook or a journal is a place where we can bring feelings out into the open. This does not mean we need to share our pages; sometimes writing or drawing wants to stay private. MP: When did you start to keep a journal or notebook? ALV: My first diary was a pink and white gingham book with a wee gold lock and key. The lines were small, and as I was only six, myRead More
About Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterAmy Ludwig VanDerwater has taught writing for over twenty years, and her children’s books have received accolades from the Junior Library Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the National Council of Teachers of English. Amy blogs for students and teachers at The Poem Farm and Sharing Our Notebooks. She lives in Holland, New York. Visit her online and The Poet Farm, and on Twitter and Instagram.
Mia’s parents divorced and she feels split in two. When she’s with her dad, she misses her mom. When she’s with her mom, she misses her dad. Everything is different. Even her cat and dog don’t live in the same place anymore. She always feels like something is missing, and that makes her sad and angry. Her grandpa understands “that missing feeling” since her grandma died. He gives her a notebook to write her feelings and memories. It’s what he does when he misses Grandma and it helps him feel better. “Life changes, and writing helps me think about these changes.” Mia tries writing in her notebook, and soon she finds a way to balance that missing feeling. Hear author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater read That Missing Feeling aloud.Read More