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Interview with Nicole Weaver, author of Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle

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Nicole Weaver is a teacher, freelance writer and children's author. Her first picture book, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle, is written in three languages: English, French and Spanish, and was inspired by the author's childhood experience in the beaches in Haiti. Nicole was devastated by the recent Haiti earthquake and is donating part of the proceeds of her book to help victims. In this interview, Nicole talks about her book and what she's been doing to create awareness and raise money for the Lambi Fund of Haiti.

Thanks you for this interview, Nicole. When did you start writing for children?

I started writing for children five years ago. Prior to that I primarily wrote poetry and short stories. It is my heart desire to continue writing tri-lingual children's picture books that portray all children of color in a positive light. I remember asking myself why the children in the books I read were not the same color as me. I feel this is my second calling in life. In six years, I will retire from teaching so I can write fulltime.

Tell us about your children’s book, Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle. What inspired you to write it?

When I was a little girl, I lived near the beach in Haiti. Sea turtles came to shore to lay their eggs. I took daily walks along the shore to collect seashells, low and behold out of the blue I came across this huge sea turtle. At the age of ten I moved to America where I got hooked on reading picture books. After reading so many books I daydreamed of writing a picture book of my own one day. I attended several workshops for writers, it was there I learned that I should focus my writing on personal experiences. The memory of seeing the sea turtle was still very vivid , it was then I decided to write a book about what I saw on the beach so many years ago.

Your book is written in English, French and Spanish, making it quite educational linguistically. What compelled you to do this?

I was compelled to write the book in English, French and Spanish because I am fluent in all three languages. Since I am a French and Spanish teacher I am passionate about finding ways to expose young children to a foreign language. A child’s mind is wired to master a language very naturally at a young age. A tri-lingual book will help expose a child to two new languages, it is a good way to garner interest for other languages and cultures.

What is the main message children will learn from this book?

I tried to convey the importance of friendship and showing compassion for someone in need of help. It also has themes of love and a family coming together to make a sound decision and respecting nature.

I understand you’re donating part of the proceeds from this book to the Lambi Fund of Haiti as a way to help earthquake victims. Please tell us about this.

My mother lost 13 cousins in the earthquake . Shortly after the earthquake the superintendent of the school district where I have been teaching for 20 years sought my help. I volunteered to do a press conference with the local media.

Many schools participated and hosted bake sales which raised Several thousand dollars . All the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross and the Lambi Fund of Haiti. Lambi Fund provides financial resources that promote social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people. After the initial fundraising with my school district I wanted to continue to help make a difference. I read Malaak Compton-Rock’s book “If It Takes a Village, Build One,” She inspired me and made me realize it is the little things we do that can make a huge difference in the life of someone. It is always a challenge to find ways to become globally responsible citizens , the earthquake propelled me into action. I am taking Malaak’s suggestions very seriously; I am using what I love to do to help benefit Haiti. I have a second children book, written in English, French and Spanish due to be published in 2011 by Guardian Angel Publishing. I will be donating proceeds from that book as well.

For more information about the Lambi Fund , readers can go to its website or email Karen Ashmore, executive director at Karen@lambifund.org

The illustrations in the book were done by fine artist Ruben Chavez. How was your experience working with an illustrator? Did you have input in the artwork? Do you think he captured the mood and tone of the book?

I had a great time working with Ruben; he did a great job capturing the mood and tone of the book. I collaborated with Ruben to make sure the little girl would be representative of not only Haiti but could possibly be from any place in the Caribbean or Spanish-speaking countries in South America. I wanted to reach many cultures from around the globe.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Yes I do, readers can go to the following sites to learn more about me and my work: Outskirts, Authorsden, Jacketflap, Associated Content,
Learn French and Spanish, Support Parents of Haitian parents.

Any last words to our readers?

I want all readers to understand that I am very serious about helping with relief efforts for my native Haiti. Every little bit helps no matter how small . It is my earnest desire to continue to write children’s books that will promote language acquisition and other cultures. Readers, I invite you to read the article written about me in my local newspaper March 20th, 2010: Thank you in advance for supporting Haiti relief efforts.

Thanks for the interview, Nicole.

Read a newspaper article about Nicole and her efforts to help Haiti on the Littleton Independent.

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.