Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Author Interview - Rana DiOrio
I've never done author interviews in the past, and was tempted to decline when asked if I would like to be a part of the blog hop to promote Rana DiOrio's latest book, 'What Does It Mean To Be Present?' But that hesitation lasted only till I visited Little Pickle Press, and found that are "dedicated to helping parents and educators cultivate conscious, responsible little people by stimulating explorations of the meaningful topics". That could describe my deepest desire- I had to be a part of the movement.
When I received my copy of the book, I decided to read it with the kids. Though my second grader could have read the book, he chose not to, and I read it aloud to them. And I am glad I did- freed from the need to struggle over the difficult words, they could concentrate on the words and the illustrations, and came up with enough questions to keep Rana busy for the entire interview. Over to them, and Rana.
Interviewer 1 (6 1/2 year old) - Hello, Aunty Rana. My brother and I loved your book, and we are very happy that you are going to take some time off to answer our questions.
Interviewer 2 (4 1/2 year old) : None of the children in your books have names. Have you done that so those children could be any children?
Aunty Rana: Exactly. The messages did not require character development to convey. We are also leaving open the possibility that our readers will name the characters in our digital applications.
Interviewer 1 : The girl in the story looks like she is from India. Is she?
Aunty Rana : When we outlined the central characters for Global, Green, and Present, we contemplated an African boy and a Chinese girl for Global, a Latino boy and a North American girl for Green, and an Indian girl and a French boy for Present. We wanted to represent a broad range of nationalities throughout the series. We will represent others in upcoming titles.
Interviewer 2 : Is this book for kids or their mothers? Whenever I want to do something interesting, it is Mamma who drags me away because she doesn't want me to waste time.
Aunty Rana : Excellent question! The answer is both. While we are all born present, we are socialized away from being present. We plan ahead, multi-task, think about what’s next. I think that Present is a great opportunity for children and adults to be reminded of the enormous benefits of living in the moment.
Interviewer 1 : Why are there so many butterflies in the book? Is it your favourite animal?
Aunty Rana : Here’s what our illustrator, Eliza Wheeler, has to say about the butterflies . . . “Whenever a butterfly is around people seem to stop to watch them. They are fragile, gentle creatures that don't usually live long, yet they bring such beauty while they are here. I included blue butterflies on each page because kids love to search within drawings and find repetition. Searching for the butterflies slows them down as they read the book, and helps them to be "present" and fully experience each page.”
Interviewer 2 : You use very simple words in the story. I started reading only a few months back, and even I can read the entire story all by myself. Have you written the book for a new reader like me, or for older kids?
Aunty Rana : Our target age is 5 to 8. We are finding, however, that grown-ups are buying the book for their friends!
Interviewer 1 : Mamma says she has a question for you too. She wants to know where you got the name 'Little Pickle' from.
Aunty Rana : I started calling my children “little pickles” from the beginning. When it came time to name my children’s media company, it seemed like the obvious name.
Interviewer 2 : Thank you, Aunty Rana for doing this interview. Now, we are going to go back to reading the book. And we do hope Mamma lets us watch ants more often, instead of hurrying home all the time.
'What Does It Mean To Be Present' claims to be a "refreshing, vibrant picture book engages all of the senses to demonstrate the myriad of ways a child can seize the moment. The story sparks meaningful discussions about the important gift of appreciation, giving children and adults alike the opportunity to live more fully and richly."
As a mother who is struggling to find the balance between keeping on top of her 'To Do list' and enjoying the 'Now', I can assure you that the book does live up to its promise. To read more about the book, the author and the illustrator, and to buy the book, do visit the Little Pickle Press wesbite.