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May 25, 2018

Roman, author of the award-winning Captain No Beard books, discusses her instructional series about life in other countries.

How did you come up with the idea for the If You Were Me and Lived In... series?

I was in Las Vegas on a family vacation and my four-year-old grandson noticed the Eiffel Tower on the strip. He wanted to know what it was and why it was important. I couldn’t find a book that was suitable for him. That night, I wrote the first of five books.

I was working with illustrator Kelsea Wierenga, and I wanted the series to be respectful, not stereotyped. In addition to filling the books with fun facts to familiarize readers with life in another country, I chose to write from the perspective of a child in that nation.

I then expanded the series and wrote ten more books for older children about different eras in history. These start with ancient Greece and include ancient Mali, Elizabethan England, the Mayans, and the Vikings. The last one travels into the future to explore life in a colony on Mars.

How did you do research for this series?

I did most of my research in my own neighborhood. My dry cleaner was thrilled to offer details about his life in Egypt. The women in the nail salon told me stories about South Korea. My doctor was happy to share the food of his native Scotland. And the man at the car wash told me about his native Peru.

Can you say a bit about how you hope these books will help children understand life in other countries?

We live in a global village. If children can appreciate the similarities and differences of our diverse world, society is enriched. Intolerance is bred from ignorance. I believe everyone should know what languages others speak, what currency they use, and where they are located in the world in relation to us.

What do you think is the role of a children’s author?  

Writing a book is intimate; it’s a direct line to someone’s heart. Sometimes a book can reach a child when a parent’s words can’t. Convincing a child that a book can change their life, or stay with them forever, is the best gift of all.

Who is your ideal reader?

As an author, you can impact someone’s life. When you share a story, you may end up taking someone on the journey of their lifetime. Perhaps your story will ignite the imagination of someone who will change the world.

For more information, visit Roman's BookLife author page.