Happy #MerMay, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts! #SeaonsOfKidLit is pleased to feature another fin-tastic author and book this week. NYTs Bestselling Author, Tracey Baptiste, is with us today sharing her mer-mazing book, Mermaid and Pirate (illustrated by Leisl Adams)! When a mermaid and pirate meet, they can't really understand each other. The pirate only hears mermaid sounds (Glub, Glub!) and the mermaid only hears pirate sounds (Aargh!). Still, an unlikely friendship is formed when they lend a helping hand...or fin to eachother. Want to know more about Tracey, her beautiful mermaid book, PLUS want a chance to win some mer-mazing treats? Read on...
Q: Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit. We’re thrilled you can join us and share your new book with us, Mermaid and Pirate! First, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you, can you share a little bit about yourself and how you started your writing career?
A: I’d always wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I scribbled in notebooks and typed on my dad’s typewriter until I got my own word processor. Eventually I submitted a picture book to some agents and a couple of them offered representation. I signed with the first one who asked, not knowing the difference between either. Along the way I worked as a teacher (mostly 2nd grade) and then an editor before starting to write full-time in 2015, the same year the first Jumbies book was published.
Q: Mermaid and Pirate explores the challenge of communicating, which is an important topic. What inspired you to write this book / come up with this idea?
A: I have a lot of toys in my office and I had a mermaid doll and a pirate doll on my armchair one day, and I wondered how they might communicate with each other. I’ve used a lot of nonverbal communication in my books over the years, most notably Malik in The Jumbies series, but this was a chance to explore the idea of trying to communicate across languages. I’ve been dismayed by the treatment of immigrants and refugees, and I wish people tried harder to find common ground starting with communication. This story was a good place to plant that idea.
Q: If given the choice, would you rather be a mermaid or a pirate? Why or why not?
A: I heavily identify with mermaids. Swimming in the ocean soothes and heals me in a way that nothing else does. No way would I be walking the deck when I could be swimming in the sea.
Q: Please discuss any research you did for this book, or your process for getting into the heads of both characters.
A: Over the years I’ve done a lot of research on mermaids, but I stuck to what most American kids would recognize as a mermaid for this story. Getting into their heads wasn’t too difficult. At every turn, I thought about what was important to both of the characters, and how they would see things differently than their counterpart. But once they become friends, it’s clear that they want the same thing: to be together again.
Q: What message or inspiration do you hope young readers take away from this topic, your book and your writing journey?
A: I hope young readers see that there’s always a way to connect with someone different from you, even someone who has a different language, and to be kind to them, even when things get difficult. I hope they see, like Mermaid and Pirate, that the benefits outweigh all else.
Q: Well said, Tracey! Now, for a very important question: What’s your favorite thing about #MerMay?
The illustrations! It’s great to see everyone’s interpretations of mermaids of every kind.
We couldn't agree more! Thanks again for joining us and sharing your fin-tastic new book with us. We can't wait to check it out!
Readers, please leave a comment below and thank Tracey for stopping by!
Mer-Mazing #MerMay Giveaway!
Hi, readers! We have a special treat. Comment on each #MerMay post in May and be entered into a drawing to win one of three manuscript critiques or 20-minute ask-me-anything zoom meetings from Heather and Lynne Marie!
About Tracey Baptiste:
I am the New York Times bestselling author of Minecraft: The Crash, as well as the creepy Caribbean series The Jumbies, which includes The Jumbies (2015), Rise of the Jumbies (2017), and The Jumbie God’s Revenge (scheduled for 2019). I’ve also written the contemporary YA novel Angel’s Grace and 9 non-fiction books for kids in elementary through high school.
I’m a former elementary school teacher, I do lots of author visits, and I’m on the faculty at Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.
My name is pronounced buhTEEST.
For more about Tracey, visit the following links:
To purchase Tracey's books on Amazon, or to leave a review for them, click here.