Favorite author growing up?

My favorite memories are snuggling in bed, mesmerized by A.A. Milne’s poems. I wanted to travel to Timbuktu and frolic with Pooh in the 100 Acre Forest. It’s heartwarming to see my children love those stories too.

Favorite thing to teach?

My favorite thing in the world to do is teach reading in a whimsical, hands-on way. My superpower is making kids NEED, not want, the book’s next chapter. I love to dramatically read aloud part of a book, whisper at the right moment, dim the lights at a scary part, and right when the kids are engrossed, close the book and say, “Time to line up for lunch!” I am honored to teach in a classroom where kids fall in love with books everyday.

What am I doing right now?

There is a high probability that my toddler is eating PB & J crusts while waving to helicopters. My baby is most likely chewing on a board book. And I am jotting down story ideas amidst it all.

Who inspires me?

My children and all the kids I’ve ever taught! And a special mention to the women behind Alumni For Change. They are a grassroots effort to diversify classroom curriculum. The time I got to work with them was exciting, provocative, hard, and always nerve-racking. Asking institutions to change is difficult, but knowing it’s the right thing to do is easy.

Favorite author today?

Easy, peasy. Drew Daywalt once took the time to video my classroom and teach his top tip for writing. I didn’t have any money and I didn’t know you were supposed to pay authors to this sort of thing. But he didn’t care. It was my first year as a teacher and I choke up just thinking about it. It was short. Less than 3 minutes. But it was impactful. He inspired a new student to write a full story for the first time. I’m grateful for his kindness and that moment.

Dream topics to write about?

I love any story that connects with my mixed-race background. My mom is from Brazil, and my dad is from New Orleans. I write stories about samba, myths from the bayou, and how my Vovó claims her cinnamon bananas are magic. I love to write about anything that reminds me of the rich culture I grew up in and haven’t seen represented in mainstream media.