Today I’m taking part in a blog tour on behalf of the Macy series, and specifically spotlighting the story Smile With African Style published by Cassava Republic Press, which is based in Nigeria.
Smile With African Style is a sweet story that introduces young readers to different traditional clothing styles found in various African countries. Macy’s teacher is wearing a West African print one morning, and this gives Macy the idea to have a day the following week where everyone wears traditional African clothing.
I loved the variety of clothing styles, and diverse students (including one who I believe has albinism). I’m not sure if the students portrayed are representing their ethnicities or not, which might have made the students more multidimensional. There isn’t any backmatter about clothing or the countries mentioned within the story, but this makes sense as it’s published in Nigeria and the tribes are more well-known I would imagine. I can see students in NA being interested in looking at a map while reading, or using this story as a jumping off point for deeper study and learning. Mylo has also written the Princess Arabella series, which I really love!
Now, for my Q&A with creator Mylo Freeman!
The Tiny Activist: How did you get started in the world of children’s publishing?
Mylo Freeman: I started some 20 years ago when my first child was born. I never thought I would end up making childrens books, but when you become a parent there’s a whole children’s world opening up to you. I started making drawings for my son to brighten up his room and from that evolved a story around a little potty which became my first book. I submitted the illustrations and the publisher reacted immediately because there weren’t that many books on potty-training at the time. The book became an instant success and I found my calling!
TTA: What is most surprising about the process of writing an ongoing series?
MF: The fact that I keep on coming up with new stories for princess Arabella and Macy sometimes surprises me , but somehow they have such rich personalities that the storylines almost evolve naturally.
TTA: Do you relate with any specific characters in the Macy series?
MF: I relate to Macy as well as her teacher. I guess there is always a child and a grown up inside of me. As it should, haha!
TTA: How long does a story take to go from an idea to something on paper?
MF: Usually when I have a good idea things move pretty quickly. I don’t start writing the whole story before I’ve come up with a good ending. I also start drawing immediately. Altogether it takes me about 2 to 3 months to finish a book.
TTA: What books are you looking forward to reading this year?
MF: I love historical novels so I’m always on the lookout for those…
This book was kindly sent by Publisher Spotlight, and the Q&A was facilitated by them as well!
Mylo Freeman is Dutch/American and grew up in The Hague, Holland. She attended the art- academy in Amsterdam and majored in illustration and painting. After a short career as a singer she started illustrating again after the birth of her son David. Her first book Potty! received the prize for best toddler book of the year at the time. Mylo made around 60 books up till now and the series of princess Arabella is one of her most well known books. There are 13 books about Arabella and it is published in more than 10 countries. There is an app and a theatreplay in the making.
In all it proves there is a huge demand for books with diversity!