Who Knew New Words



Who Knew New Words looks like a great children’s book.  What can you tell us about it?

I believe it is a great children’s book. It breakdowns vocabulary words usually very medical.  Those terms can give any parent, caregiver, or teacher trouble simplifying on the spot.  Further, the illustrations help kids visualize the meaning of the words. But for me, the book goes beyond COVID-19 terms.  It looks at everyday words that kids hear but still cannot say exactly what it means.  Words such as disease or vaccine.  This book looks at the relationship and role of families and other social structures near and dear to kids.  It helps them to process emotions they may have felt during the early stages of the pandemic. 


How were the illustrations done in Who Knew New Words?

I had one true requirement for the illustrations of the book.  I wanted the illustrations to appear as if you were in the mind of a young child.  So the illustrations capture the emotion and imperfect manner children recount stories.  Some elements of the illustrations are more exaggerated than others.


What inspired you when writing Who Knew New Words?   

There are so many people that inspire me in general ways that contributed finishing and publishing this book.  My parents, play a major role.  They set the foundation of seeing a project through.  The inspiration for the book was different in each chapter. For instance, I wanted to highlight frontline workers in the medical field. Being a teacher myself and growing up with parents who teach; I wanted to highlight how the Coronavirus affected teachers. But beyond the Coronavirus, I wanted to touch on how instrumental teachers are in the lives and well-being of nurturing a child. I also drew inspiration from the work many of my friends do as social workers.  I am also a social worker, but since I have branched out into education, I am no longer a practicing therapist in social work.  But I wanted to pay homage to those who are very active in social work. I wanted people to know that a frontline worker is really a community worker.


What age group would the book be for?

This book is really for any age group.  However, I wanted to write it in a way in which children as young as four could understand; but also include themes that older children and teens can relate to in their lives as a student. I also believe adults can enjoy this book.  Whether you have children or not, adults were once kids and can even reminisce while reading this book about how they handled similar situations when we were school age.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Who Knew New Words?

Of course yes.  The most challenging thing was how to synthesize the information while keeping it interesting from a child’s perspective.  I also didn’t want the story to be uniquely about my family’s experience during the early stages of the COVID-19 shutdown.  I wanted to include elements that other children could relate to.  For instance, the anticipation of visiting grandparents and other family during the holidays. School celebrations such as the 100th day of school and going on school holiday for the summer.   Most of these events kids around the world can relate to in some capacity


What do you like to do when not writing?

Gosh, I love to write however, it does require a good quality time day to day. That time is not available to me. Therefore, I keep notes and I am constantly reflecting so that when it is time for me to write; I almost effortlessly spill my words onto the paper. When I am not writing or thinking about what to write; I manage my family, help manage a primary school, and I teach fulltime.  I have several hobbies such as Pilates, and developing new projects.  Mostly, I just like to live in a manner that allows me to experience history.


Can you elaborate on that statement of living in a way to experience history?

Yes sure.  So for me it basically means living in the now and being open to events that shape one’s life.  These events usually come in an unplanned manner.  For instance, in 2010 I accepted an invite to train to be a Peace Corps volunteer in one of the hottest countries on earth (Burkina Faso in West Africa).  That experience led to countless life events such as taking a lead role in planning the Peace Corps 50th anniversary fair.  And I participated in the 50th Independence Day Parade of Burkina Faso and met my husband, Jean Luc.  More of these stories can be found in a piece I have coming out soon.


Are you making a series?

When I wrote this book, I was writing in the moment and trying to cope with the newness of the COVID-19 reality in April 2020.  I really did not think there would be a need for more children’s books on the topic going into 2021.  I honestly thought the pandemic would be on its way out by the end of 2020 the latest.  However, it is always possible to make a series if there is good content to write about.  I do have more stories to tell surrounding other experiences that have been on the back burner for some time now.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

 Mainly people can follow me on Facebook @ccazanzibar or Instagram @ccazanzibar