Author Katia Novet Saint-Lot grew up in Paris but spent her summers visiting her mother’s family in Spain. She has also lived in the U.K. and the U.S. Her husband’s work for UNICEF took them to Nigeria, and their experiences there provided the background for Amadi’s story. They now live in India with their two daughters. As a child, Katia loved reading more than anything else. She also dreamed of becoming a writer and longed for travels to faraway places—she’s now busy living her dreams with her family.
Illustrator Dimitrea Tokunbo brings to life the day-to-day experiences of life in Nigeria, where her father grew up. She has written and illustrated a number of picture books and lives in New York City with her two daughters.
Featured Book: Amadi’s Snowman
Katia Novet Saint-Lot
Illustrated by Dimitrea Tokunbo
Hardcover, $16.95; ISBN 978-0-88448-298-7
9×10, 32 pages, color illustrations
Children/Multicultural; Grades 3-6
Today I’m excited to host Katia as a “stop” on her virtual book tour. Welcome, Katia! And welcome, to all her treasured friends and readers, too!
Q: What inspired you the most to write this book?
A: The situation itself – boys dropping out of school to make little but quick money doing street business – struck me as incredibly powerful. We lived in Nigeria, at the time. My husband works for UNICEF, and when he came home complaining about that problem, I just knew I had to write about that. And immediately, this young boy was born in my mind. Slightly defiant, stubborn, proud of his heritage, but in his flawed, immature way. I adore Amadi. He’s so real to me. Totally likeable, and human because he’s not perfect, BUT he’s perfectible.
Q: Describe a highlight for you personally while you were writing this book.
A: The first version of the story had a fantasy element. The first publisher I sent it too replied that they liked it but did not publish fantasy. Could I ground it in reality? That same evening, I ran to my office, grabbed a pencil, and started scribbling furiously on the page, and came up with the character of Chima, and it was so easy. Of course, there were many revisions afterward. But from the moment I read that comment on that letter, it was as if a door had been shown to me, and the writing just happened. That was a real high.
Q: How do you hope to influence today’s young readers through this book?
A: I’m not sure I looked that far ahead when I wrote the story. 🙂 Or if I did, it was subconsciously. But one thing that I feel is crucial for children (and adults, by the way) to know, nowadays, is that what appears a certain way, in a certain place, can appear very different in another. What matters is to be open and willing to look at things differently. Honesty. Curiosity. An open mind. And the capacity to admit one’s errors. That last one, particularly. Amadi may not know how to read, but he has all these qualities, and because of them, he will move forward in life, and maybe even go quite far.
Q: Share one tip you would like to give someone who is just starting out as a writer for children.
A: Only one ??? 🙂 It would have to be to become a member of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators. You’ll get all the rest from there.