In our continuing series of chatting with authors of books we (as in the Little Js and I) love, we got a chance to talk with Yolanda King. Yolanda's latest book, a chapter book called Story Bird Dance and the Haunted Studio, is out this week.
Marti: What was your favorite book as a kid?
Yolanda: ….Oh wow, this question takes me down memory lane. Picking a favorite is challenging. I enjoyed lots of genres and loved being transported to another place and time. Alice in Wonderland, Diary of Ann Frank, Little House in the Big Woods, our Encyclopedia Britannia set and dare i say Flowers in the Attic. My all time favorite as a kid was The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia) by CS Lewis. I found it in the school library on the bottom shelf with the jacket facing out. The cover and title spoke to me. I remember having a little door inside of my bedroom closet (the door allowed easy access for working under the house). I was afraid to open it, but often imagined if I went through it at night, I too could be transported to another land with talking animals, snow, power and adventure.
Marti: Curlilocks is a really cute twist on an old concept. How did you come up with that?
Yolanda: I was inspired to write Curlilocks and the Three Pink Pandas because of my daughter who was about four at the time. She would ask me to read or make up stories. One day she mentioned that she wished she had pink skin like her friends. That night I decided to tell her a story with a play on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I wanted to highlight her curls and beautiful brown skin. The bears became pink pandas because of my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal (who was not a panda, but had lots of pink flowers covering his fur). My newest series, Story Bird Dance, is also inspired by my daughter. She has taken dance classes since the age of two and this year is a new soccer player. She watched her big brother play for years and wanted to give it a try. She’s having a blast. I have a story inspired by my son; it’s time to get going on that one.
Marti: That's so funny! My first books published have pretty much the same story. I wonder how many other mamas are out there writing stories that we can share. It feels so natural for parents to tell stories to children. I hear that you've been trying to share stories in an even bigger way, too. Will you tell us about that?
Yolanda: I've led a monthly book club for 1st-3rd graders and their parents January- April for two years. I pick the first book and then the kids vote on future books. We usually read one early reader chapter books or two picture books. I like to let my kids test out the books before introducing them to the book club. It looks like we’ll start January with two picture books. “Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni and “Whoosh” by Chris Barton illustrated by Don Tate. Don Tate is a local Austin illustrator and my daughter enjoyed the true story of the scientist Lonnie Johnson and his invention of the Super Soaker. She said “Rosa” was a great book. She’s heard about Rosa Parks at home and at school, but this was the first time she read a book all about Mrs. Parks.
Marti: That's amazing. So needed and so cool of you to take action to fill a need you saw. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We really enjoyed it. :-)
Yolanda King is a former math and social studies teacher. As a kid, you could often find her in the library and as an adult she finds it hard to leave the library without an armful of books. In her none writing time, she can be found being an awesome wife and mom to two elementary aged kids and contemplating using her sewing machine. Today you can find her at tangledpress.com.