By Natalia Ventura
Jennifer Wolf Kam is a fiction writer in Syosset and is releasing her new picture book, Until The Blueberries Grow, in May 2022. The book is inspired by her personal experiences with her grandparents as a child and young adult.
“The book is a re-imagining of my experiences in my grandparent’s garden,” Kam said. “My grandmother had a green thumb, she could grow anything. It was important for them to grow things, to contribute to the earth, and be a part of it. My grandmother loved to grow things, so as a little girl I remembered she had all different kinds of flowers, fruits and vegetables. They had a giant cherry tree, and my grandmother would make cherry borscht.”
As a young adult, her grandmother passed away and then her grandfather relocated.
“I took those two experiences, my childhood and young adult experiences with him moving, and re-imagined it as if I were a child and what that would feel like,” Kam explained. “My grandfather did move across the country, and I did get to see him but not as frequently. In my story, that’s not exactly what happens.”
Kam also infused her Jewish traditions into the story. She incorporated the gardening aspect into the picture book, along with moments of being overfed by her Jewish grandmother every time she visited.
“I told the story, which is really universal, and infused it with some of my personal traditions.”
When Kam was in second grade, she was inspired to become a writer after reading The Little Leftover Witch by Florence Laughlin. During that time, Kam wrote a letter to Laughlin about how much she adored the book and how she wanted to also become a writer. Laughlin responded back to Kam.
“She wrote me the most delightful letter,” Kam recalled. “It really encouraged me because if Florence Laughlin thinks I could be a writer then maybe I can.”
Kam’s writing process consists of writing for a period of time, then stepping away from it for a while. When she looks back at her work, Kam can look at it with fresh eyes. She also has people involved in her writing process. They read her writing, and Kam learns from their feedback to improve her work.
At one point, Kam contributed to the Syosset-Jericho Tribune while she was a student at Jericho High School. Kam holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a five-time finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Kam is the author of the young adult supernatural novel, Devin Rhodes Is Dead.
Visit www.jenniferwolfkam.com/for more information about
Jennifer Wolf Kam and her upcoming picture book.