I wanted, first and foremost, to honor the memory of my grandparents. As I worked on the book though, my focus shifted. LETTERS FROM RIFKA morphed from being simply a memorial to my grandparents to a tribute to my great aunt’s extraordinary courage and humor. My primary concern, I suppose, was finding a way to tell my aunt’s story. The tales she most clearly remembered dated to her later life, involving subjects and themes I feared would be less interesting to young readers. I needed to gather all the wisps of memories from her youth: tales of the pogroms, her passage to the U.S., her detainment on Ellis Island. From these tiny fragments came RIFKA’S story arc.

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