Award winning author Barbara Ann Mojica is a historian and retired educator living in New York State. Barbara spent more than forty years teaching in NYC in the fields of preschool, elementary and special education. She also served as a special education principal for a school devoted to developmentally delayed children and a special education administrator providing services to the special education population. Barbara, although retired from teacher, is staying busy: along with her series of Little Miss History travel books she writes historical pieces for The Columbia Insider, Pat Fisher and Ed Pollack Editors, under the banner “Passages.” Marrying her love of teaching and history, Barbara hopes her Little Miss History character will inspire children to learn about historical people and visit landmarks such as those in MOUNT RUSHMORE, The STATUE of LIBERTY, SEQUOIA National Park, and FORD’s THEATER, which are covered in the first four books of this series.
Hello Barbara! Thank you for chatting with me today and welcome back to Layered Pages to talk about your newest B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree book, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA National Park. Congratulation on the medallion. That is praise indeed! First please tell me how your experience with Self-publishing has been and what have you learned along the way.
I choose to self-publish for two reasons:1) it allows me the freedom to determine release dates and scheduling and 2) it allows me to control my subject matter. The boundaries between self-publishing and traditional publishing have blurred because the mergers and acquisitions of large publishing houses and the resulting diminished staff have resulted in the authors taking on the bulk of promotional activities. So I would probably be doing most of the marketing tasks anyway. Marketing is time consuming and difficult, but putting in the effort leads to steady progress. As a bonus, I have acquired many wonderful friendships with parents, teachers, readers, and fellow authors.
Tell me a little about Little Miss History and her new adventure at SEQUOIA National Park.
Little Miss HISTORY is the main character. She looks like a wannabe park ranger wearing pig tails and hiking boots three sizes too big. Little Miss HISTORY is telling her story today in SEQUOIA National Park, which is located in northern California. Since her last expedition to the Statue of Liberty, she is flying across the North American continent to the recesses of Sequoia National Park, where she is skydiving into its forest. Here in the “land of the living giants,” the reader will learn about the differences between redwood and sequoia trees and of its first inhabitants and wildlife. Through breathtaking illustrations, adventurers will traverse its trails and immerse themselves in the awesome beauty and magnificence of Sequoia National Park. Readers will also discover the hidden dangers lurking there.
What are the advantages that Little Miss History has to learn so much about American History?
I am a firm believer in the philosophy that if one doesn’t understand his mistakes, one won’t be able to avoid making them again in the future. Little Miss HISTORY and I live by the motto, “If you don’t know your history, you don’t know what you’re talking about!” I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively through the United States and far afield. When travel behind the Iron Curtain opened up to western tourists, I was one of the first to book a tour. My journeys include visiting much of China as well as Western Europe. Right now my focus is on travel to historic sites in the United States because they are so interesting, diverse and easily accessible to most tourists.
Tell me about one of her experiences meeting anyone of these characters, Hale Dixon Tharp, John Muir, William Tecumseh Sherman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
If Little Miss HISTORY had to choose one character in her Sequoia adventure to meet in person, I think it would be John Muir. As the Father of National Parks, he was the first to bring issues of conservation of natural resources to the attention of the United States government. I would ask him about his talks with Hale Dixon Tharp and his experiences in settling the wilderness. Of course I would not hesitate to ask why Muir fled to Canada rather than serve in the army during the Civil War, and what he did in Canada while he was a refugee.
I love the whole premise of a nonfiction historical book using a fictional character as a guide. What a fantastic way to get kids excited about history. How did you come up with the idea?
Little Miss HISTORY is portrayed as a cartoon-like character whose aim is to make learning about people and places of historical importance both fun and educational. In reality, she is based on a younger version of myself. When I retired from a long career as a teacher and school administrator, I wanted to combine my two loves, teaching and history. My husband, who is an illustrator with many years of experience, came up with the idea of basing the character on me. My father had large feet and the oversize hiking boots are in his memory. The safari outfit she wears is reminiscent of the park ranger uniform. I really wore a pair of sunglasses like Little Miss way back when. What’s wrong about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses?
How long does it take you to write children’s books and who is your illustrator?
The entire process of writing takes three to six months. First, I decide on the place or event. Then the book becomes a research project. I research online and in the library and/or my personal history collection and experiences. Next I write a draft; I never work from an outline. Then I begin revising. I go back to each draft after a couple of weeks and do that several times. Picture books need to be concise so I am ruthless with the editing. I will also be writing press releases and doing preliminary marketing. My husband/illustrator makes thumb nail sketches for each page. Then they morph into a sketch for each page. We confer together on the images. My illustrator then colors them and in some instances combines them with photos or other images. When finished they are placed in a template. We do a final edit. Then it is off to the printer for a proof copy. If that comes back perfect, we approve it. Voila! Now it’s time to release and market the book.
Where in your home do you like to write and how much time do you spend on the craft?
My books are written at my desk with my computer in eugenus® STUDIOS. My husband/illustrator has a drafting table and computer set up in the same room. We generally work at least eight hours a day, almost every day of the week.
What’s up next for you?
Next up for me will be a new adventure with Little Miss HISTORY visiting Intrepid Air and Space Museum, which I hope to release in the first half of 2015. I have already written two other books, and have two more in the preliminary stages of writing. In addition, I continue to write bi-monthly historical articles for a local news magazine, and I read and review family friendly books for my blog and the Quest Teaching/Reading website.
What are some of the positive reviews you have received for you book(s)?
I have been fortunate to receive B.R.A.G. Medallions for the first three books in the Little Miss HISTORY series. The recently released fourth book visiting FORD’S THEATER is currently being considered. All four books have received FIVE STAR READER’S FAVORITE reviews and numerous four and five star reviews on amazon. The SEQUOIA Book also received the 2014 Honorable Mention for grades 3-4 in the Children’s Literature Independently Published
Principal’s Awards (CLIPPA) Here are a few snippets from reviews…..
What a great series of books to get children interested in history … and such a fun way to learn history!! This book starts with a bang … and is packed full of historical facts about Sequoia National Park told in a way that will entice children to become curious about finding out more. I know I am! The illustrations are fabulous! Right from the beginning, the book drew me in with “Little Miss History,” as the guide. She’s a strong (and fun) guide and spokesperson. I can see these books being presented as an animated TV series, possibly on the History Channel, or similar channel! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, which is cleverly introduced to readers on the last page of the book. Another delightful read from Barbara Ann and Victor Ramon Mojica! Little Miss History Travels to Sequoia National Park is the third children’s book in the “Little Miss History” series. I must admit I am hooked on “Little Miss History” stories. Don’t even start me on the amazing artwork that charms readers from the first page. I’ve read the two first books (Little Miss History Travels to Mount Rushmore and Little Miss History Travels to the Statue of Liberty), and they are fantastic!
Thank you, Barbara and please come back soon to chat with me. It was a pleasure.
Thank you so much, Stephanie for giving me the opportunity to chat with you on Layered Pages. Looking forward to connecting again soon!
Little Miss HISTORY series:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to FORD’S THEATER
This website contains previews of books in the series, book purchasing links, my email contact information, video, Little Miss HISTORY store merchandise, and link back to my blog.
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A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Barbara Ann Mojica, who is the author of, Little Miss History and her new adventure at SEQUOIA National Park, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Little Miss History and her new adventure at SQUOIA National park, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.