Interview with Skylaar Amann.

It’s #ChatWithThePBLady time! 🥳🎉

Today’s chat is with Skylaar Amann. We talked about her wonderful book SMILE, SOPHIA.

📚What’s your favorite snack?

do like snacks, so it’s hard to choose! It would probably be a good cheese and cracker or a couple pieces of really good chocolate…And does coffee count as a snack? 🙂

📚What makes you happy?

I like spending time in nature, especially at Oregon’s intertidal beaches. Anytime I go outside, I’m always on the lookout for hidden wonders, whether that’s fossils and bones, shells, small creatures, or a beautiful leaf. It’s very peaceful and meditative.

📚What quote inspires you?

“You have to be willing to spend time making things for no known reason.” —Lynda Barry

It’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re working on creative ideas with the specific goal of publishing. I often miss the freedom and looseness of drawing and writing I used to have when I did it for fun only, and sometimes I just need to get back to making stuff … just to make stuff.

📚If you were stuck on an island, what items would you want to have with you?

If it’s a tropical island, I would want something to provide shade because I don’t do well in the heat! To keep myself entertained, I would love to have a guidebook to the island’s natural wonders so I could explore and learn. I’d also want fresh water!

📚Let’s talk about SMILE, SOPHIA. Please tell us all about Sophia.

Sophia is a young girl who loves paleontology. She’s happiest when she’s digging for dinosaur bones. But the adults in her life don’t quite understand how important that is to her. Instead, they just want to see her smile. Sophia, though, is undeterred. She only smiles when she wants to!

📚What makes this book so empowering?

A lot of people, especially girls, are told to smile. That can be upsetting to hear. You may feel like you are smiling, for example. Or you might be happy and just not feel like smiling. And sometimes, you might not be happy and don’t want to smile! And all those situations are okay. In Smile, Sophia, Sophia stands up for herself and her priorities—she only smiles when she wants to. I hope this book can help kids (and grown-ups) know that they don’t have to smile if they aren’t feeling it. There are many ways to be strong, smart, happy, and other attributes. With or without a smile.

📚This book features some fantastic backmatter. Can you tell us what readers will find in the backmatter?

Thank you! The back matter in Smile, Sophia features a number of dinosaurs, fossils, and other things related to science that are scattered throughout the story’s illustrations. A few examples are a T. rex skull, a poster of Charles Darwin, and a megalodon tooth. You can learn a few things about each in the back matter, and then go on a treasure hunt for them in the book’s pages. Readers can also hunt for a little worm character on most of the pages!

📚If you could tell your readers one thing, what would it be?

It’s okay to be yourself, with or without a smile. We don’t have to perform emotions to please others. If you’re really into a hobby or area of study and want to focus on that, go for it. Your interests are valid, and the way you want or need to show yourself to the world is just fine the way it is!

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