For the sixth year in a row, Shout Mouse has partnered with the teen tutors of Reach Incorporated to write diverse and inclusive children’s books. Over the course of four weeks, teen authors write picture books that aim to allow every child to see themselves and their life experiences represented on the page.
Dartavius, who goes by Doc, is a three-time author with Reach, having written Drip, Drip: The Story of the Angry Sherbet, Madison, Sit Down, and this summer his third picture book, Tiffany and the Two Missing Teeth. Doc talked through the process of writing children’s books and gave a sneak peak into what he’s writing this year.
Q: This is your third picture book. What is the coolest part of publishing the books?
A: The book signing, and when you get to read your books to the children. It makes you feel good because you’re doing something, putting it back out into the community where everyone can see it. They recognize you for it.
Q: What is the hardest part of the project?
A: Starting off and creating ideas off the fly. Once you come up with an idea, adding more. It can get confusing.
Q: And what was the best part of the project?
A: Sitting around the table with other writers, just creating a story.
Q: Over the last two years, you’ve read your books and other Reach books to kids in the program that you tutor, as well as at book readings. How do kids respond?
A: They usually like to read Reach books more than others. Because they know the authors, know the connection.
Q: You’re now an experienced author. But after you wrote Drip Drip, your first book, was there anything you didn’t expect about being a published author?
A: All the attention, especially at the book release, from kids and from adults.
This year, Doc is an author of Tiffany and the Two Missing Teeth, which tells the story of a first grader who loses her teeth and is embarrassed by how she looks. He talked a little bit about what inspired this new book and what he hopes readers will take away.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Tiffany?
A: I think the original prompt was about a character who loses something and has to deal with it. Something like that. And losing teeth is the biggest moment of change for little kids. It’s a universal thing.
Q: What is your goal for writing this story?
A: I want people to see that it’s not always about appearances, but what you can do as an individual, your talents and skills. And that growing up has its fallbacks, but in the end it’s worth it.
Q: How much did your own experiences influence this book? As a kid, did you like losing your teeth?
A: Yes, I always found money under my pillow. At first I was kind of scared of the tooth fairy. I was scared of everything. What if they don’t take the tooth, what if they take me? When I found out it wasn’t real, I wasn’t scared.
Q: You write and draw outside of this project. Is there anything you’re working on right now?
A: I’m trying to make up my own comic. Ideas are hard to come up with. I’m not finished yet, but I wanted to make up a story that takes place in a high school, where a boy figures out he has special powers but he accidentally uses them for the wrong reasons.
We’re so proud of Doc for his continued leadership, both as an author and as an advocate for literacy for the young people in his community and beyond. Keep writing, Doc! We can wait to read your next book (coming November 2018!)