DDS: As a child, I always loved to write short stories. My mother used to save them in the kitchen drawer next to the fridge. She beamed when she read my stories aloud. She made sure to boast about them to everyone. I recall the topic of one of them…my childhood love…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Many years later, I was sorting through my closet, and found a grad school project I completed for a course called “K-12 Curriculum and materials in ESL”. It was a big book geared towards ESL students in elementary school. I pulled it out and read it to my kids. They started asking me questions about the setting, the conical hats, the food, etc. They asked me to read it again…and again…and again (who can relate to this?). Just then I knew I had something. The story wasn’t just entertaining, but it was also educational. I was inspired to write this story after a very magical trip to Vietnam (so magical I returned two more times since then). Thirteen years later, after many modifications and additions, “Journey to the River of Perfumes” was born in its entirety.
After having children of my own with a bedtime routine of 3 books a night since they were a year old until now (you do the math), I suddenly became immersed in the world of children’s books. I became a staunch critic. I advocated fun books, but most were superficial.
Since I spent a good portion of my life thus far traveling abroad, I wanted my kids to get a taste of the life I had. I wanted them to learn about other interesting cultures and far away lands without having to look through my photo albums. I started writing the “Exhibition of Learning” collection with this in mind. Cultural cues are embedded in the stories, so that children have the opportunity to see the world without leaving their bedrooms.
DDS: In Journey to the River of Perfumes, Lan sets out to fulfill such a wish at the legendary River of Perfumes in Hue, Vietnam. During her joyous journey, she has the opportunity to participate in the exhilarating experience of helping others. This wish-filled, wondrous story will not only educate, but also entertain children through its rhythmic phrasing and serene simplicity. This heart-warming tale was written from a daughter’s perspective when she realized how much she appreciated her mother’s guidance throughout her life. It is a simple theme that mirrors the course of life. A child grows up at home, protected by her family. As soon as she is old enough, she ventures out and makes her own discoveries while simultaneously learning something new about herself.
In Hidden in the Himalayas, Nema loses a very special doll she received at birth from her grandmother high up in the mountains of Nepal. Not long after, a budding friendship blossoms between two young girls of vastly different worlds. The child characters in Hidden in the Himalayas are authentic and enchanting. Hidden in the Himalayas is an emotionally engaging story about loss and gain. One can be transported to a country less traveled and feel the adventure of a girl and her mom trekking on the trails of the Himalayas. The vivid imagery in the story reveals the magnificence of the landscape in Nepal and lead to a joyful ending.
DDS: I think the children will enjoy the interesting cultural components I introduce about Vietnam and Nepal and the sweet storylines. There are a host of fun activities for teachers and homeschooling that correspond with the books on my website Debbiesolomon.com
BBB: What do you hope children will learn from your stories?
DDS: I hope the children will learn compassionate and respectful behavior along with interesting information about the geography, dress, landscape, food, & lifestyle of both Vietnam and Nepal!
BBB: Are you currently working on another book?
DDS: Yes, My next book will take place on the Mexican Island Of Isla Mujeres (off the Yucatan). It will be a bit different than the others. I will be introducing the unique animals of the island and they will talk! There will Spanish words throughout and a beautiful message at the end.
You can find out more about Debbie Doctofsky-Solomon and her books by visiting http://debbiesolomon.com.