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Meet Yvette Cole



We are in the midst of February and that means besides Valentine's Day, and President's Day, we celebrate Black History. Wordy takes a moment to share the work of debut author Yvette Cole. In her new children's book, Harriet's Dinner Party, Yvette brings epic black figures to life for youngsters in a fun and engaging way.


Yvette Cole is a certified Kindergarten teacher and first-time author from Stamford, Connecticut. Yvette was inspired to write Harriet's Dinner Party when she struggled to find a book to read to her class that was based on black history but still fun and engaging for younger audiences. Yvette hopes that her book will make it easier for parents and teachers to teach children about significant historical figures such as Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr., and their prominent roles in American History.




Congratulations on your new children’s book, Harriet’s Dinner Party. Please tell us about it.


Harriet’s Dinner Party is a captivating picture book that is based on Historical fiction. It is suitable for grades k-3. It tells the story of a girl named Destiny who goes on a walk and finds herself at Harriet Tubman’s house. Destiny has no idea who Harriet Tubman is or who any of her other well-known dinner party guests are. As the party continues Destiny begins to wonder if she made the right choice accepting Harriet’s dinner party invite. Its carefully woven narrative not only entertains but also encourages critical thinking, empathy, and exploration of essential life concepts.


How long did the process take from conception to holding the book in your hands?


The entire process took me about three years. I worked on the writing for two years on and off. Then publishing, copy writing, and formatting took almost another year!



Photo Via Amazon


I love the title of your historical fiction children's book, Harriet’s Dinner Party.  It’s an unassuming title that inevitably packs a punch with important history at its core. What came first, the title or the idea for the story? 

 

This was not the first title that I came up with. My first title was Dinner at Aunt Harriet’s. I intentionally did not put Harriet Tubman’s full name in the title of the book because I wanted people to wonder who Harriet was. I knew people would have to open the book and read it to find out. I wanted Harriet’s identity to be somewhat of a mystery.

 

What inspired you to write this story?


I was inspired to write this story when I was looking for a book to read to my class during black history month. I had a hard time finding a book that was fun and engaging for younger audiences. I knew Harriet Tubman was the perfect person to write about after watching a movie about her life. Her story was so magical to me. She overcame so many obstacle despite her struggles.





I love the illustrations in your book. They are so beautiful and vibrant. How did you find the right illustrator and how closely did you work with them to see your vision come to life?

 

I found my illustrator through a Google search. I was looking for an illustrator that had experience with drawing black characters. I chose Janine Carrington because she had done a lot of other projects that required her to create famous characters and characters of color. My art notes were very detailed. I picked out hair styles, clothing, settings, etc. I saw a vision in my mind and my illustrator did her best to make my vision come to life. I wanted the pictures to tell a story too! I’m most proud of the living room scene drawing. I wanted her living room to look almost like a museum with relics and artifacts that she had collected over the course of her life. I also love the dinner party scene when everyone is together. The colors and details on every page were carefully planned out by me and brought to life by Janine Carrington.





The doorway in the tree is a magical and fun way to spark a young reader’s interest. You truly seem to know how to connect with your audience. How did your teaching career influence your story?


After working with children for over a decade I learned that it helps to have a bigger imagination than your students. I know that children love stories that require them to solve a mystery.





We know that using the five senses in writing is a must, to orient readers and transport them into the story. Your description of the amazing scent of sweet potato pie that lures Destiny in was a fantastic way to draw the reader in as well. I can imagine the wonder on a child’s face after reading or hearing that sentence. Was this a conscious effort on your part?

 

Yes, I wanted children to smell the pie while I was reading the story. The curriculum that I follow as well as a lot of other ones does a whole unit on the five senses. Because of this I knew the children would enjoy the book.


Boys & Girls Club Reading Event


Your book educates young children about Harriet Tubman in an easy-to-understand and entertaining way that is also informative, but you didn’t stop there, you created this amazing dinner party where other important historical black figures attend, giving readers a glimpse into their lives as well. Was the weaving in of these historical figures from varied eras intended from the beginning or did the idea cross your mind while writing?

 

When I came up with the concept of this story, Harriet’s Dinner Party, I knew that I wanted to create a guest list that included other black historical figures. I wanted to pick people who had things in common and that might have crossed paths with Harriet Tubman at some point in history due to the work that they were involved in.





How did you research the facts for your historical figures and how did you decide what to include?


I used Google and I decided to use facts that summed up major works that they are known for in history. I decided to include the facts that I felt were the most important.


You must have collected a great deal of information on each of the historical figures in your story, yet you seamlessly introduce the particulars into straightforward age-appropriate sentences to fit with young readers. This is important when creating a children's book. Please share this process with our readers who include aspiring children's book authors.


I would recommend that writers just write what comes to their mind first. Then keep the details that are the most significant.





Can readers expect Harriet’s guests to appear in books of their own? If so, can you give us a little tidbit?

 

Not at the moment but they can expect a sequel to Harriett’s Dinner Party!





What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

 

Visualization really works! If you can see it and dream about it’s important that you take the steps towards making your vision come to life because it can happen.

 

Please share your best advice for aspiring authors.


Write about what’s in your heart!


***To learn more about Yvette Cole or to purchase her book click on the links below:









 


 

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Hi. I'm Liz Ambrico, freelance proofreader and aspiring author. I too am querying agents, editors, and publishers in hopes of becoming a published author.

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