Laughing Zebra Books for Children
Interview

Listen as Suzanne Lieurance interviews Joy on "Blog Talk Radio, Book Bites for Kids."

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Interview questions with answers from Joy Delgado

Joy, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live?
At the moment I live in Puerto Rico with my husband.

What do you mean by ‘at the moment’?
Well, we live on a 41’ sailboat, so, for the time being we are in Puerto Rico.

How exciting! That’s sure a different way to live. How long have you lived on a boat?
Lets see, we’ve lived aboard for 5 ½ years now.

Where did you start out and where all have you sailed to?
We started in St. Pete, FL, moved aboard and sailed her to Key West, FL. We were there for three years while my husband was on Active Duty with the Coast Guard. He went back to reserve status and in October of 2006 we set sail for Puerto Rico. Along the way we spent 5 months in the Bahamas, time in the Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic. Seven months in all.

Sounds like a great vacation. Do you plan on doing any more sailing?
Yes. We are talking about going to the Virgins (both US and British) for the early part of 2009. then, who knows.

Now, you’re the publisher and illustrator of Zooprise Party / Fiesta Zoorpresa right? How do you plan to manage your business while you’re on the road, or should I say at sea?
Yes, I’m the illustrator/publisher and my husband is the translator. Well, I’m looking into getting lined up with distributors both in Puerto Rico and the US. We are going to ‘test drive’ the idea in the Virgin Islands. If it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to Puerto Rico and try something else. My plan is to be able to do the bulk of my work on the computer and have printers and distributors lined up to take care of the rest. I am new at this, so there will be some trial and error involved.

Interesting. Now I know this book has a special story behind it. Let’s start with what prompted you to create this book?
I have two grand daughters in Puerto Rico. When it came time to buy presents for the ‘girls’, we decided to buy them bilingual books. We speak both languages and feel it’s very important in this day and age to speak at least two languages. So we started looking around. What we discovered was that bilingual books are hard to find and when you do find them, they are usually about a particular culture.

I asked my daughter Rebekha to help out by writing a few stories. I told her I’d teach myself to draw and her dad could translate them into Spanish. She thought this was great, so she sat down and in something like two days I had three stories from her.

Now you have an activity book and a teacher’s guide that go along with this book. What prompted you to add these?
As we worked on the book, people would ask me what made me draw this okapi thing to look like I did. When I had to explain to several people that an okapi is a real animal from Africa, I realized I needed to do something different. So we started with pictures and some interesting facts at the end of the story. It soon became clear to us that this wasn’t just a book. This was a book that would help teach a second language as well as inform people about animals that aren’t very common. That’s when I decided to developed the Activity Book and the Teacher’s Guide, to take the book beyond reading.

Tell us a bit about Rebekha. What kind of work does she do?
Rebekha is a zookeeper, or as she prefers, and animal keeper at a zoological park/resort in Central Florida.

You know, that’s one of those jobs that when children go to the zoo that they are fascinated with. Is it as great as it seems?
For the most part, from what she tells us, yes, it’s really a dream come true for her. There are certain aspects of the job however that aren’t very pleasant, like cleaning the stalls out. She’s been there long enough that I don’t think she has to do that much anymore.

When did she start to write?
I think it was in about second or third grade. She went to an elementary school that was very pro writing. Each year the students wrote short stories. Then the parents’ group took them, printed them out, gave them back to the student to illustrate it and bound them.

What a great school project. So, has she had anything else published?
Yes she did. Some of her poetry was published as part of a National Poetry contest.

What’s next? Another zoo story or something else?
Several projects are in the works. Rebekha’s second story about a chameleon and a lemur will follow the same format as Zooprise Party / Fiesta Zoorpresa. Then we have a textbook-workbook project about animals in their natural habitats. Some of the local schools have asked for this, and I think it’s something many schools would be interested in. Of course there are about 20 more stories we’ve both written that I hope someday will see publication.

Well, thank you Joy for such an interesting interview. I wish you and your family the best of luck.
Thank you for having me here today. It was fun.