SB: I am a wife and mom of three boys. I live in New Jersey, but I work in Philadelphia, PA as an Early Literacy Specialist. I have my Masters Degree in Reading and I taught many grades ranging from 1st to college!
Literacy is my passion. I love to see the faces of children as they discover new learning. I love being the one who has given them another tool to put in their “literacy tool belt.” More than that, I love supporting teachers, especially in grades K-3. The art of pedagogy is something that has been in my heart since the days I lined my dolls up in rows and taught them how to spell more, than 30 years ago. I hope I can always be around a school setting until I retire to the Caribbean and become a famous author!
In my spare time, I really enjoy being with my family or relaxing. Being the only girl in my home leaves little time for pedicures and pampering, so when I get free time I love to get massages or hang out with the girls in my extended family, no matter what they are doing!
Most of the time you can catch me at basketball, baseball or soccer supporting my sons and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
SB: My main character, Clarence, is around age 8-9. From the cover you can tell that he is upset, which has led many of my readers wondering why. In the story he feels different; different from his loud, Italian family and different from his peers at school. He is bullied because of his big ears. Clarence struggles with feeling accepted and doesn’t know how to handle being different. He wants so desperately to be a part of something big and with the help of his Nonna he discovers that he is beautifully and wonderfully made.
My grandfather, Clarence, who died in 2012, inspired this character. Both have a big, beautiful set of ears! I wrote this book in memory of him.
BBB: What do you think your readers will find most appealing about your book, Clarence?
SB: I have been able to marry two very important topics into this book: the Italian culture and bullying. I found that my culture is not represented in many children’s books so it was essential to tell this story highlighting some important parts of my heritage, such as food, family, and faith. Being an educator, I also know that educating students about bullying and making smart choices is very relevant so I wanted to give my readers the chance to see what good choices and bad choices look like and how that pertains to their life experiences. The dialogue and illustrations are what will initially dram in the reader, but overall the theme of this book will connect with them and leave them with a sense of empowerment and inspiration.
BBB: Tell us about your illustrations.
SB: Michela Cardelli crafted my illustrations over a period of 6 months. She lives in Pisa, Italy and I connected with her using Fiverr. She and I collaborated daily about every aspect of the illustrations and she was very mindful of what my vision was for the book, while also maintaining creative ingenuity with the design. Many of the illustrations are members of my family, so I would send her a picture and she would work her magic and bring them to life with precision and accuracy. I asked her to put a true picture of my grandparents inside the book somewhere and if you look at the book on page 14, you will see them inside of a picture frame. Seeing that made me cry!
It was a true advantage having and illustrator that lived in Italy. She added cultural aspects to the drawings that only an artist from that region would and because of that the finished product is an authentic representation and, to me, a work of art!
BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
SB: Here is a list of the ways my readers can discover more about me and my work. I love to interact with them as much as possible so any chance you get, please reach out and let me know what you think of Clarence!