Why I Chose to Write a Children's Book
I always knew I would write a book one day. I didn't really know when or even what it would be about, the only thing I was certain of is that I would write one. Some of my favorite books were read during my childhood. I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl's work. Dahl was a British writer who authored some of the classic tales that made its way to the big screens such as, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and my all time favorite, Matilda.
I remember asking my mother to buy a Cambridge Dictionary to help me translate British English and understand the differences in English vocabularies as I read Dahl's books. This predates internet shopping so she couldn't just log on to Amazon Prime and order it for me so instead she did the next best thing---found it at a yard sale one Saturday afternoon. By that time I had already used the context clues to figure out most of the lingo but it still came in handy. Funny how I ended up marrying a Brit and have now been living in London for nearly three years. No translation needed.
In the likes of Dahl's work, I set out to write a children's book. I had to do a lot of research. I read tons of blogs that discussed how to write a children's book and spent hours in bookstores and libraries reading and re-reading classic children's books. Then finally I realized that if I was going to write a children's book, I needed to write a book that would add value to the genre. I had to write a book that would tell a compelling story-- one that would have an impact on children. Growing up I don't remember reading a lot of books with Black characters-- although there were some. The few books that come to mind are, Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, Ezra Jack Keats book series which includes, Whistle for Willie, and the first African tale I had seen in print, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe.
Other than those books, I can't really recall reading many others. So I decided to write a children's book that is set in Africa with a Black girl as the protagonist. The story would bring awareness to a global issue that is a great cause of mine---access to clean water. Like a true millennial, I began to "pen" the first drafts of the book on my iPhone notes while traveling to my 9-5 on London transits during the spring of 2014. The final product is something that I am truly proud of, Janjay.