Today I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with author Valerie Bolling, author of LET’S DANCE! illustrated by Maine Diaz. If you know me, you know dancing is one of my favorite activities so when I first heard about Valerie’s book, I did a happy dance! Valerie has generously offered a 15 minute phone conversation about queries and the publishing industry with one lucky winner. Comment on this post to enter and please share this blog on your social media.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
I was a child who loved to learn, play, and create. I enjoyed reading, writing, and playing games with my cousins and friends. In many ways, my interests have remained the same. I still love to read, write, and spend time with my husband and friends.
Based on my book, Let’s Dance!, you may be wondering if I danced a young child. I didn’t; that came later. I danced for the first time at my best friend’s Sweet Sixteen party, and I took my first dance classes at college.
What inspires you?
By keeping an open mind, inspiration for me can come from anywhere. I love when it arrives in ways and places where I’m not expecting it and ends up in my writing!
The inspiration for Let’s Dance! came from my observations. I’ve noticed that when music enters the scene, people – regardless of age or background – start to move. Babies who can barely walk will sway and/or raise their hands. When my nieces, Anyah and Zorah, were two and four, they danced while brushing their teeth. Now at ages six and eight, they still love to dance!
My next book, Together We Ride, was inspired by all the children I saw riding bikes during my daily “mental health walks” in the spring of 2020. I often saw Maeve, a five-year-old girl, whose mother shared with me that she had just learned how to ride a bike.
Most recently, I was inspired by the Biden/Harris inauguration and wrote two articles. One explores the question: How does Amanda Gorman’s poem, The Hill We Climb, model for us why teachers should teach poetry and, perhaps more importantly, why students should write their own poems? The other, Why Children Need To See Themselves in Books, is about the diversity that was on display at the inauguration and why children need to see themselves as an integral part of the human experience.
What’s one thing you hope readers will take away from your books?
As I say on my website, “I want all children to feel at home in a book.” I hope readers take away from my books a feeling of joy and connection and a sense that they belong, are worthy, and are part of a larger community.
What can we look forward to next?
Together We Ride is coming in Spring 2022 and Together We Swim in Spring 2023; both will be published by Chronicle. Two more, currently unannounced, books are scheduled for
release in Fall 2022 and Fall 2023, and I hope to be able to share those titles soon. I also have several other projects in the works, so, hopefully, there will be more good news to share in the near future.
You can find out more about Valerie and her books: