Story: An African-American family gets together to celebrate Kwanzaa, but will the celebration be spoiled because their beloved cat, Boots, is missing? The family sets off on a quest to find Boots by putting the seven values celebrated in Kwanzaa into practice.
Non-fiction: An overview of the history of Kawanzaa and a description of the different aspects of its celebration. Illustrated with numerous informative photographs.
This was an important book to write. We did a great deal of research and were fascinated by the determination and strength of the African American culture. The festivity that Maulana Karenga created in 1966 brought to me a better understanding of the reality I had seen and lived in Detroit in 1963.
Each of the values celebrated in Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-determination, solidarity, working together to achieve goals, creativity and the belief in one’s own dreams are values that I hold dear. It was a wonderful challenge to create a story that could demonstrate these values to children without appearing like a lesson, and holding the interest of the story.
Alma Flor and I brainstormed quite a bit to come up with this story, and I believe we succeeded. We were very pleased with the result and with the charming illustrations by Valeria Docampo.
Many readers are intrigued about how two authors collaborate to write a book. If you share this curiosity you may enjoy reading how I explain this experience in the chapter entitled “Writing in Collaboration: One plus One is One or Two” in the book Alma Flor Ada and You, volume II published by Libraries Unlimited.