When Laurie Ann Thompson was a kid, she loved books and animals, like me. She still does! I hope I still like books and animals when I’m older, too.
I think it’s funny that she didn’t dream of becoming an author, but she is really good at it.
Two of the books she’s written are Be a Changemaker: How To Start Something That Matters and Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story Of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which I reviewed last month. I liked Emmanuel’s Dream because it was about perseverance. It is the true story of an African boy with one good leg who learned to ride a bike and biked around his whole country of Ghana.
Some of Laurie Ann Thompson’s books are meant to inspire people to dream on, or do something big. Other books of hers are just for entertainment, like I love My Dog and here newest one, Two Truths and a Lie: Histories and Mysteries.
I’m glad she answered my questions for this interview. This is what she said:
Question: Have you ever met the real Emmanuel?
Answer: Yes! I got to meet him in 2010 when he traveled from Ghana to San Diego to participate in a fundraising triathlon for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. We met in a coffee shop and I was able to interview him for three hours! When I transcribed our interview later, I had more than 18 pages of typed, single-spaced notes. It was incredible, and it really helped me get his story right.
Q: Why did you write this story?
A: I think many of us have felt the ways Emmanuel felt, even if we haven’t had exactly the same experiences. Most of can relate to feeling left out, to feeling like we had more to contribute than we were given credit for, and to wanting to make the world a better place. I was personally inspired by Emmanuel’s perseverance and grit, so I wanted to share his story to inspire others to follow their own dreams.
Q: What is it like being an author?
A: I love being an author because I get to do all kinds of different things. Writing is one of them, of course, but I also get to research, edit, design, give presentations, meet lots of different people, run a small business, you name it! Actually, one of the things that has surprised me most about being an author is that there are so many other things that go into it besides just writing, but I’ve found I like the variety.
Q: Have you ever visited Africa?
A: No, but hopefully I will get to someday!
Q: What message do you want kids to get out of Emmanuel’s Dream?
A: There are several messages that I hope kids will take away from Emmanuel’s Dream. The first is that they can do anything they set their minds to, even if so many people are telling them no. The second is that everyone has value, so they should respect and cherish themselves as well as others who may be different than them. The third is that everyone can, and should, strive to make the world a better place for all of us.
Q: Did you always want to be an author? How did you reach your goal.
A: I never even dreamed of becoming an author, which is kind of funny because my mom says I was always telling stories when I was little and I’ve always loved to write. I was a software engineer before my children were born. Reading to them helped me remember how much children’s books had been to me when I was young, and I decided I had to pursue a career as a children’s book author. It took a long time (10 years!) and a lot of hard work, but I know that I’m now doing what I was meant to do.
Q: What books would you recommend to kids like me?
A: Truthfully, whatever you want! I think the most important thing is to stay curious and read what interests you. It’s good to push out of your comfort zone every now and then and experience something new, too, but I think the most important thing is choice. I would recommend kids like you READ. Period. ☺
Q: Do you think diversity is important in children’s books? Why or why not?
A: Oh my goodness, yes, yes, yes! We all need to be able to see ourselves in stories so that we can feel our own experience is valid and that we’re not alone. We also all need to be able to see what it’s like for others who are walking a different path in life, so that we can gain more understanding of others. We all need mirrors reflecting our own lives as well as windows giving us a peek into others. For far too long there has been, essentially, only one story. But everyone has an important story to share, and we need to hear them all.