Monday, March 27, 2023

When speaking with Teaneck resident and children’s book author Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum about her career, it is impossible not to think of the beloved children’s story, “The Little Engine That Could.” Andria dreamt of writing children’s books since the time she was 11 years old and—with perseverance reminiscent of the locomotive whose mantra was “I think I can”—finally had her first book published at the age of 40. “I can’t even tell you how many times over the years I gave up,” she recalls. “But if you’re a writer, you can’t not write.” It is very appropriate that Andria’s new book, published earlier this month by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is called “Trains Don’t Sleep.”

After studying English Literature at Stern College, Andria went on to earn a master’s degree in special education from Bank Street College. She then taught for five years and started a family. “When my kids were little, I didn’t have time to put in the effort that you need to put into writing a book,” she says, and instead wrote short stories and poems for children’s magazines. Eventually, in 2006, Andria’s book, “A Grandma Like Yours/A Grandpa Like Yours,” was published by Kar-Ben Publishing.

After losing her father several years ago, Andria says that she was ready to give up once again. She recalls that her father was the reason that she first fell in love with language as a child; when he read her bedtime stories, the words sounded “like music.” Describing her father as a “kid at heart,” she says that one of her fondest childhood memories was when she and her siblings would watch him run electric trains around the track that he had built. After he passed away, she found it hard to write anything at all. And then one day, she decided to write a poem for her 3-year-old grandson. “He loved his trains so much—he would talk to them, he carried them wherever he went, he took them into the bathtub; he had a whole imaginary world with his trains.” The poem would eventually become “Trains Don’t Sleep,”which she calls a love letter to her grandson and her father. A recent review in The New York Times praised the book, which pairs Andria’s words with beautiful illustrations by Deirdre Gill.

Andria will be among the authors featured at BooksNJ on Sunday, June 11, on the grounds of the Paramus Park Library. This free event includes panel discussions, readings, storytelling and crafts. Her upcoming books include “Big Sister, Little Monster,” with artwork by popular illustrator Edwin Fotheringham, and “Boats Will Float.” Her advice to aspiring authors? “Read, read, read! Read as many books in the genre you want to write in as possible.” She says that for about 25 years, she has been going to the library every week and coming home with 20 picture books, in order to familiarize herself with classics, new books and everything in between. And with dedication like that, it’s no wonder that her career is picking up steam.

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