1. What inspired you to write the CaptainNo Beard series?
My son self published a book and challenged me to write one as well. I thought about different subjects and realized I had a wonderful story based on a game I play with my grandson, Alexander. I don't like video games, and we play imaginary games for hours, so Captain No Beard was a natural choice. Right off my head, I had four stories to share about our different adventures.
2. Will Cayla be in future series?
Yes Cayla will be in future stories. She was born when I wrote Pepper Parrot and I thought about how to include her in the group. Strangers on the High Seas was a great way to introduce her. She will be a very helpful part of the crew from now on.
3. What do you want your readers to learn from these books?
The Captain No Beard series is written for both children and the adult reader. There is a wealth of things to do when you use your imagination. You can go anywhere, do anything and have fun for hours. My goal is always for the book to carry on for discussion long after you finish reading it. I think subjects like bullying, teamwork, talking to strangers, being bossy, being considerate, and learning not to judge others are things that need to be reinforced all the time. I never wanted them to be preachy, or for anyone to roll their eyes when they read it. I tried to approach each issue with sensitivity, hoping that it stays with the reader long after the book is put back on the shelf.
4. Tell me a little about the If YouWere Me and Lived In... series.
I am a former secondary Ed Social Studies teacher. You can never turn that off. When walking on the Las Vegas strip during our vacation, my grandson asked me to explain the differences in the themes of the casinos. In the space of one block, we saw the Eiffel Tower, ancient Rome, and a pyramid of Egypt. He was three and fascinated with the idea of other countries and their customs. I wrote If You Were Me and Lived in....Mexico, the next day. We came home and I followed with France, South Korea, Norway, Turkey, Kenya, India, and Australia. I reached for all the continents, and chose countries that I knew almost nothing about. I then edited it down for children to understand and still be enjoyable to read. The books are a gateway to learn about other people and I hope they will open a world of discussion.
5. How is the feedback so far on this new series? Do you find parents and teachers find the travel books helpful?
The cultural series has been embraced by both parents and teachers. There is very little out there for the preschool and early grade school age group. People who don't understand, complained there was not enough information. Many teachers understood that editing was the hardest to do. There is a wealth of interesting things to write about- but the book is a catalyst for educators to use as a jumping off point for the correct level of information. Using the book as a guide, each page can be instrumental in discussing as much or as little as the age group can handle. Names- how familiar are they, monetary value- what does it tell you about the country, sports, toys, things to do- is the county urban, rural, rich, poor, and what does the food tell you. This book is a terrific way to introduce culture to pre k to age 8, learning to respect both our differences and similarities. Knowledge is a great way to teach tolerance.
6. What are you working on now?
I have a Captain No Beard book in production called The Treasure of Snake Island. I would like to keep doing the cultural books. People are asking for me to do the country of their ancestors. Self publishing is very expensive and I am hoping the cultural series is embraced enough to pay for itself. I think it is an important series in so many ways and I hope it succeeds.
Read our reviews on Captain No Beard and If You Were Me and Lived in... South Korea. Also, visit the author's website for more information on her upcoming series and read the Best of 2012 Kirkus Review for the first book in the series Captain No Beard.