Amy Hodgepodge Joins The MG Club

You know how people like Ashton Kutcher and Diddy are tweeting? And so people think – ooh I can talk to Diddy. Except, when you look at celeb tweeters follow list you notice they’re like anyone else, they’re pal’ing around with people they know. Sure they may read tweets directed to them by their fan/followers, but make no mistake, for many of them it’s primarily a publicity thing.

But there are some celebrities on Twitter who are doing more than proclaming grandiosity for themselves (is that a word?).

One day, Kim Wayans, of the Hollywood Wayans (it’s nice to have our own comedic version of the Baldwins and Sutherlands) re-tweeted Don Tate’s book tweet. And I thought – oh that’s interesting.

But what was more interesting is, Kim and her husband, Kevin are authors of a chapter book series, Amy Hodgepodge, a bi-racial fourth grader who enters public school for the first time after being home schooled most of her life.

I approached Kim and Kevin about an interview and they obliged.

That is the power of Twitter and other social networks – bringing like-minded folks together.

If you’re looking for a good summer brown book for your young readers, Amy has five books to keep them engaged.

And if you comment, by eight p.m. eastern tonight, you’ll be automatically entered to win a set of the Amy HodgePodge series.

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BBS: How many books are planned in the series?

Kim & Kevin: Five titles are available now, with two more coming out next year. After that, we’ll have to wait and see if the Penguin, our publisher, orders more. So, all you Amy Hodgepodge lovers out there, write and tell them to keep the books coming!

BBS: What age group are the books best suited for? Amazon had 9-12 year olds listed, but that’s a large range, especially where illustrated books are concerned.

Kim & Kevin: The books are best suited for ages 6-9. Amy is a fourth-grader.

BBS:There is ongoing debate in the kid lit community about whether it’s better or worse to have characters in children’s books so heavily identified by race or ethnicity – if you remove race/ethnicity from the Amy Hodgepodge series, tell us what makes them a good read and for what ideal reader?

Kim & Kevin: We think it’s important that all children see positive images of themselves reflected in the culture at large. This book series is unique in that there aren’t any other mainstream series out that revolve around a multiracial child and her racially and ethnically diverse peers.

The first book in the series introduces race and ethnicity in a way that encourages children to engage in discussions about identity, culture, etc. organically, That said, when you take away race and ethnicity, Amy is just like every other little girl who wants to make friends and fit in, and the beauty of the Amy Hodgepodge series is that the topics dealt with are universal– all children relate to them regardless of race or ethnicity.

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The books are fun and entertaining and they impart valuable life lessons to children about friendship, loyalty, bullying, teasing, honesty, cheating, etc. The world Amy dwells in is a much more accurate reflection of the hodgepodge nation we’ve truly become.

BBS:Since you’re both from a film/TV background, are there any plans to get Amy to the big or small screen?

Kim & Kevin: Yes. We would love to expand the property and do a cartoon series and an Amy Hodgepodge movie, among other things. But right now, it’s about raising the awareness of the book series and gathering a mighty crowd of Amy fans.

BBS:Tell us a little bit about your collaborative writing process. Is one of you the primary writer, while the other “fills” in detail or do you write together?

Kim & Kevin: Kevin and I have honed our writing process over the years. This isn’t our first writing venture; we wrote together on the television sitcom, “My Wife and Kids” and have a comedy feature we’ve written as well. For the most part, we write together…we’re both primary writers.

BBS:Writing is usually a solitary thing. What’s the best and worst thing about writing with your spouse?

Kim & Kevin: The best thing about writing together is that we get to spend so much quality time with one another. Many couples’ number one complaint is that they don’t get to see each other enough–that’s never a problem for us! Plus it’s so much fun…I like to act things out as we write, and Kevin’s a great audience for my antics.

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BBS:What’s your favorite children’s book now? As a kid? And why was it your fave?

Kim & Kevin: Our favorite children’s book was “Charlotte’s Web.” As children, we were so moved by the themes of friendship, loss, the circle of life, and the inevitability of death. It’s such a beautiful and profound book.

Kim: I also loved the series “Pippi Longstockings” because she was wacky, odd and independent…just like me! Currently, we’re both loving May May Ali’s book about her amazing dad, I Shook Up The World.

BBS:Are there any writers who have inspired you or your writing style?

Kim & Kevin: We’ve been inspired by countless writers from Walt Whitman to Maya Angelou to Tennessee Williams to Toni Morrison, just to name a few.

BBS:Tell us about any future kid lit projects you have in the works:

Kim & Kevin: Our main focus right now is on growing the Amy Hodgepodge series, but we do have some other ideas for kid’s literature we’ll be working on developing soon. So stay posted!

This article complied by Paula Chase-Hyman, author of The Del Rio Bay series. She makes sure all of her celebrity tweets are inclusive.

7 thoughts on “Amy Hodgepodge Joins The MG Club

  1. Thanks for the interview. A generous donor sent a copy of the first three books in the series to us. See my comments about my impression of Kim here:

    “I’ve been following Ms. Wayans on Twitter. She’s not a celebrity writing books. She’s a real diversity advocate and activist. She’s personable…”

    Kim and Kevin, I wish you continued success with the series. Your books reflect my friends and family and it’s always cool to be able to see yourself and your experiences on the page. We put your books on display immediately. I’m excited!

  2. How funny that Kim mentions Pippi Longstocking because I just purchased that book. I used to watch the show translated into Spanish and it was hilarious.

    Also, I very much agree all children need to see positive images of themselves reflected in the culture.

    I look forward to reading the Amy Hodgepodge series.

  3. Great interview. Its nice you let them set the age range straight. 9-12 isn’t even close to right. I’ve read the first book and enjoyed it They do pretty well at the bookstore I work at. And there are not enough books featuring bi-racial characters.

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