Salutations, everyone ! Today, we go to the blog of Nancy Sanders, who’s written many books, the last one being D is for Drinking Gourd, illustrated by E. B. Lewis.
Yesterday, I posted the questions that the children asked other children around the world, and the illustrator of Amadi’s Snowman, Dimitrea Tokunbo. Today, we have the questions they asked me.
But first, I want to share the pictures that I received from Enugu, Nigeria, with the children from the British School of Enugu and their teachers, during their visit at the UNICEF Office, where they were able to not only see themselves and their efforts featured on the blog, but also to see children in other parts of the world, read their answers to their questions, etc. Mrs. Offiah called me when they left UNICEF to thank me, saying that the children were very happy, engaged, and interested, and they had loved the whole experience. See the pictures, below :

Q. Why are you an author? 
A. I often wonder about that. I was always a writer. And the more involved and serious I became about my writing, the more I hoped to become a published author. I worked very hard for several years, and I continue to ; and I never gave up on my dream of being published. Maybe I’m lucky, too, because there are many, many writers out there who are trying to get published. Also, the work never ends. Because once a book is published, we must work to get another one accepted, etc, etc. But I think it’s the greatest job in the world. I love it.
Q. What does it take to write such a good book?
A. Thank you for the kind words about the book ! As mentioned above, lots and lots and lots of work, and dedication and stubbornness, and faith in the possibility of it happening. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes and ears wide open so you can catch all sorts of details and use them later in your stories. But, most important of all, you have to invite the characters into your own mind, let them settle there and get really comfortable, and listen to them, try to understand exactly how they feel. And then, sit down and write down what they’re whispering to you. 
Q. Do your children want to become good authors as well?
A. It is a little early to tell, but my older daughter is a very good artist, and she loves drawing and painting and she has a very unique way with colors ; and she’s turning into a voracious reader, just like her mother. Sometimes, I have to run after her so she will put the book she’s reading down and  go take her bath or come down for dinner already ! And my little one has already started transforming the stories that I read to her. Sometimes, she says : “No, tonight, I tell YOU the story.” And she takes the book, and she turns the pages and she pretends to read (she’s four). She also started stapling pieces of paper that she takes in the recycling basket that I keep on my desk, and she writes letters and draws pictures. We’ll see…
Q. How did you come up with the idea for the book? 
A. I lived in Ibgoland, in Nigeria, and my husband works for UNICEF, and many boys there feel the same way as Amadi does at the beginning of the book: they’d rather earn quick money doing street business than go to school.
Q. How long did it take you to write the book? 
A. Several years, on and off. But I didn’t work on that only. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even open the files for several months. Still, I wrote 9 different versions of the story, and there are about 25 different draft files in my computer.
Q. Upon hearing that I had written so many versions of the story, the children at Vidyaranya wanted to know whether I wasn’t bored ?
A. No, I was never bored. On the contrary. As I felt the story improving, I got more excited. It was a wonderful learning experience. If I had become bored with it, it would probably have meant that the story itself was boring.
Q. How did you choose the title? Some of us thought the snowman would be a character in the book.
A. Ah, that’s a long story. For a long time, the title was simply, “Ifeanyi won’t read,” but that sounded too negative, and then “Ifeanyi’s gift.” Then, I had to change the name to Amadi, and there were already a few books out there with the word gift in them. We brainstormed quite a bit with the editor, and I even asked other writer friends who knew the story to send me their suggestions. I think that we liked the idea of the contrast between Amadi’s hot world and the snowman. Also, even though the snowman is not an actual character in the book, it is very important : it is the snowman that sparks Amadi’s curiosity and the reason he finally changes his mind and decides to learn how to read.
Thank you to all the children for their interesting questions.

“Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.” Benjamin Franklin.
I’m thrilled to announce that tomorrow, our blog will receive the visit of Nigerian author and photographer Ifeoma Onyefulu. She will share a few pictures and talk about reading and growing up in Nigeria. And we’ll have our Tuesday Quizz. See you then…


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