INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JANIE REINART ABOUT HER UPCOMING DEBUT PICTURE BOOK: WHEN WATER MAKES MUD: A STORY OF REFUGEE CHILDREN
I’m sharing the true journey of refugee children as they use their imaginations to find hope because we’re talking to author and my amazing CP, Janie Reinart, about her debut picture book When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children that comes out next month!
A Heart-Warming Story About Loss, Family, Kindness, and Hope.
When war forces two sisters to flee their home in South Sudan with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, Big Sister strives to help Little Sister smile again at the refugee settlement. But as quickly as Little Sister's smile appears, it disappears: that is until water makes mud. In the end, Big Sister's artistry and kindness brings hope to their situation.
This title is a tribute to the resourcefulness of children who have no toys, but continue to play and is dedicated to the 200,000 refugee children living at the Bidibidi settlement in Uganda.
Charlotte: Hi Janie, thank you for joining us today.
Janie: Hi Charlotte. Thank you for taking the time to interview me for your blog. You are the best critique partner, cheer leader, and note-taker I know. Your feedback is always amazing!
Charlotte: Thank you Janie. It is a privilege to share your incredible journey as your debut picture book gets ready to celebrate its upcoming Book Birthday! Can you share where your inspiration for this book came from?
Janie: A National Geographic article about refugee children making their own toys from mud, paper, and plastic caught my eye. The exquisite pictures in the article started the picture book story for me.
I noticed the photographer, Nora Lorek was on Instagram. I contacted Nora to ask if she would consider confirming what animals might be found in the Bidibidi Settlement. Nora was gracious enough to give me her email and became my inspiration and resource.
Charlotte: National Geographic is a great resource for writers. I’ve seen Nora Lorek’s photography—her work speaks volumes. Why did you want to share this story?
Janie: One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein is “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I was inspired by the refugee children at the Bidibidi Settlement; children who invented toys from found objects using their imagination and critical thinking skills. Children without toys—yet children who play. Their hope becomes our hope.
I would like to see today’s tech savvy children disconnect from screens and spend more time using their imaginations and creating. I’m hoping When Water Makes Mud will also inspire people to donate to UNICEF. Publisher’s profits from When Water Makes Mud are being donated to UNICEF.
Charlotte: Janie, you were meant to bring this story to publication. Children struggle all over the world. UNICEF has been a leader in helping children find their hopes and dreams. It’s generous of the publisher to donate their profits to this amazing organization. Speaking of the publisher, can you share the publication journey of this book?
Janie: I read the story about the children in the National Geographic article in December of 2018. After several drafts, I was ready to show my critique group and get their wonderful feedback. It is always a treat to work with you Charlotte, Pamela Courtney, Melissa Rutigliano, Kathy Halsey, Marietta Apollonio, and Monique Morales Wakefield. When my 184 word story was polished (after a few more drafts), my CP’s gave me their blessing to send the story out. I submitted to Alayne Kay Christian/Blue Whale Press on Feb. 3, 2019. Alayne emailed for a phone call on—Feb.10, 2019 and the contract finalized on Feb. 19, 2019. The release date is June 1, 2021.
Charlotte: What a journey! As part of your critique group, I can tell everyone how proud we are of you and your beautiful story. Since you mentioned Alayne, can you share why you enjoyed working with her as your editor/designer?
Janie: What a joy to work with Alayne Kay Christian, acquisitions editor and creative director for Blue Whale Press. From the first moment, Alayne was excited and loved the story about the children as much as I did.
“Well, Janie, you did it. You tugged at my heartstrings.”
Not only is Alayne an editor, but she is also an award-winning author, and creator and teacher of her own picture book writing course. Alayne’s vision for the story was the steady hand at the helm that launched my picture book.
Charlotte: It sounds like it was destiny for the two of you to team up and send When Water Makes Mud out into the world. Is there anyone else you would like to credit with helping this story forward?
Janie: The charming and talented Morgan Taylor, illustrator for When Water Makes Mud : A Story of Refugee Children, tells stories though art, and promotes making the seemingly ordinary, beautiful. Morgan’s art carries so much emotion. Each spread is more lovely than the next. Her pictures make the story come alive.
Charlotte: I agree Janie. Morgan’s characters come to life with her palette, textures, and thoughtful compositions. Before we go, I’d like to ask one more question. What pinged your heart on a classroom visit?
Janie: I love doing classroom visits. During my latest virtual visits, I wanted the students to think about the importance of the written word. I asked a third-grade class in Ohio and a class in Minnesota—Why do we write? These are the answers that pinged my heart.
We write—to change people’s lives, to bring joy, to express our feelings.
Links to buy your copy of this book:
Barnes & Noble
Thank you all so much for reading and supporting this amazing creator!