This week we’re going Behind the Book with Serena Minott, author of the The Amazing Adventures of Aya and Pete series. We recently read Aya & Pete in Paris and fell in love with the characters. Maya is obsessed with all things Paris, so she was intrigued as soon as we opened the package. I’ve always wanted to visit Paris myself, so it’s only right she feels the same way.
Aya and her family are traveling to Paris and her favorite stuffed animal, Pete, is along for the adventure as well. The story follows Aya as they prepare for the trip, board their flight, and arrive in Paris. Once there, Aya introduces readers to French words, culture, foods, and famous landmarks.
Maya was amazed to see a little girl who looked like her traveling to a place so far away. Aya & Pete in Paris perfectly introduces children to a new country through an adventure that’s written at a level they can understand. I also love that Serena co-writes these books with her daughter, Asha. We can’t wait to see where Aya & Pete’s travels will take them in the next book!
- What inspired you to become an author?
I’ve always loved writing. I started writing short stories when I was 12 years old. Then, in high school, I took up journaling. At the time, and looking back, it was a form of therapy, my way of getting out thoughts, feelings and ideas that I didn’t want to share with anyone else. I stuck with it through the years, and when I found out I was going to be a mom, I started the rough draft of a children’s book that eventually (in a very convoluted way) became The Amazing Adventures of Aya & Pete.
- What was your favorite book(s) as a child?
My favorite childhood book was a giant book of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. My mother would read them to my sister and me at bed time. We still have it!
- What was the last non-children’s book you read?
I just finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones this weekend. Before that, it was Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- What impact would you like for your books to leave on the children’s literature community?
My goal in creating these books was to create something I thought was missing from the children’s literary landscape – beautifully illustrated books featuring a beautiful brown child, living her most life (as they say these days) all around the world. I want children to be inspired to travel and to be curious about the world. To know that there’s a much bigger world out there beyond their homes or their neighborhoods, and to know that there’s a place for them and they belong in it as much as anyone else. Since these stories were inspired by our experiences living and traveling around the world with my daughter (who’s now 5, but was under 2 when we left), I’ve seen how the world opened up to her, teaching her empathy and awareness, building her self-confidence and giving her a sense of how to navigate different environments and sometimes challenging situations. I recognize that many children may not be able to travel like that, but they can travel in their imagination and know that these places, these experiences are not so mysterious and the people who live there are just like you and me.
- Tell us a random fact about yourself that we wouldn’t know from your website or social media pages.
I’m extremely introverted! But I’m also very sociable, so people often confuse this with being an extrovert, but social engagements make me nervous (even though I end up having a nice time), and at the end of the day/night, it really takes a lot out of me!