A Conversation with Carlos de Oliveira - author of One Moore Book’s new Brazilian Feature
1. What are your thoughts on the lack of diverse books in children’s literature and the growing movement for the need for diverse books?
The lack of diverse books in children’s literature represents a huge challenge in the quest for freedom, democracy, racial and social equality. I am glad that there is a growing movement for the need for diverse books because cultural representation is one of the tools that build self-awareness, confidence, ethical and cultural identity.
2. What were the biggest challenges working on the story?
Some people may think it is easy to write for children. It is not. When a writer knows that his/her work will help to shape minds, will impact children’s self-awareness, build their identity, and at same time must to be mindful of the reality of their comprehension, this work became very challenging.
3. What were the most rewarding things about working on the Afro-Brazilian series?
The most rewarding thing is the fact that I am not talking about other people’s culture but my own, and that I am sharing with the world what it means to be a black and Brazilian child and to be proud of it.
4. What books or authors have been your biggest inspirations and influences as a writer?
This is the first book I’ve written. Surely it won’t be the last. Every time I see a challenge before me, I take it and do my best to overcome my weakness. What really inspired me to write books for children was the fact that I saw an interview of the One Moore Book publishing company owner (Wayetu Moore) on a TV channel and learned about its mission. I loved it! I got in touch with the company owner and proposed an Afro-Brazilian series for children. Despite of the richness of the Afro-Brazilian history and culture all over Brazil, there is a huge lack of books for children that introduce their history and culture and present a positive image of them.
5. When did you decide that you wanted to pursue writing?
The moment I started writing my first book I had a feeling of pride and accomplishment. I knew that I would always be writing books for children.
6. What is it like in the daily life of an author/illustrator?
Well, I don’t know yet. I do many different things in life to support my dreams. In order to make my living I work as a musician, Portuguese Language teacher and translator, community organizer, Art educator, social entrepreneur, artistic director and run a nonprofit organization named New York Samba School, which coordinates Holistic Development Program for children.
7. What is your all-time favorite book?
8. What are your thoughts on the state of Afro-Brazilian literature for children (or in general)?
There is a huge gap that needs to be closed. More publishing companies should be open to this type of literature and support their authors.
9. What are you most excited about with the launch of “Azul Meets New York Sam” with One Moore Book?
I have two main reasons to be excited about the launching of : “Azul Meets New York Sam”. The first one is that I am proud that It is a part of one of the most beautiful projects I have ever been involved in. The feeling of being able to support One Moore Book and its mission to expand its reach toward Brazil is just unbelievable.The second reason is the fact that the book introduces a little bit of New York culture to Brazilian children and the world and a little bit of Brazilian culture and history to children of all of the world too.