Angela Bermudez is a six-year old actress, singer, model, dancer, and writer. She is also a street performer and enjoys singing in the streets of New York City. Angela’s literature devotion started at a very early age. She could read sight words at age one and full sentences at age two. One day she was in the New York City subway and she began reading the advertising signs. Angela would love to share her love for reading and writing with all children around the world. We talked to her about the book she penned with her mother, Tell a Story, Tell a Dream Birthday Cake.
Angela Bermudez: I wrote this story because I had always wanted to write a storybook, so my mom helped me to write this book. I wrote about princesses because usually, princesses like the ones in Disney, are characters that you don’t learn a lot from. The princesses in my book, you can learn a lot from them.
The characters in your story indulge in a special birthday cake eating ceremony. Each princess and prince is invited to take a turn in slicing a piece of cake and tell his or her own special life story and then share a dream. How did you come up with the birthday cake idea?
My mom suggested the idea about the birthday cake and I agreed to it because I like birthday cakes. When people come to eat birthday cake, they are usually happy and together. I also like birthday celebrations because they bring people together like different types of families.
You have really tackled some pretty large topics that not all kids have experienced in their own lives. What do other kids that have read your story usually have to say about Tell a Story, Tell a Dream Birthday Cake?
My friend Carlos, who is 9, said the following after reading my book: “In most books, the princesses and princes are white and just want marriage and riches. They are never gay, lesbian, or transgender either. In this book the stories make more sense, its like real life. This book makes me feel that kids who might be transgender, gay, or lesbian could feel confident and speak up about who they are? Because who they are is who they are!”
There might be some parents that aren’t ready to introduce some of the topics you have included in your story with their children. What would you tell these parents about why they should read it with their kids?
I would tell the parents that they could read the book for themselves and wait until their child is older to share the book with them. Parents can learn from the princesses and the prince’s stories. Parents can learn how to be accepting and they can teach their children.
Is there a specific character in the book that you find readers are relating to the most?
I think people identify with Aishiba, because she is the one who invited everyone to share their stories and dreams. I think Aishiba appreciates all the stories and all the princesses and the prince. I think Aishiba is accepting and respectful of all people.
There aren’t a lot of 6-year-olds that have their stories published. What made you and your mom decide that you should self-publish your story and share it with the world?
While we on the bus, my mom and I were talking about an all-girls princess party that I went to. We talked about how the boys might have felt excluded and about how it was OK that I wore sweat pants to the party. My mom suggested that I write a story about different kinds of princesses. I agreed and asked my mom if we could write a real book. I said a real book like the one you find at the bookstore. My mom figured out how we could publish the book online.
Talking about your mom … she helped you write this book. Can you describe to us how the two of you worked together? How did she help you?
My mom and I worked mostly on the bus. I would come up with ideas and she would write them on the notes app in her cell phone. My mom would suggest bigger ideas like foster care, political asylum, undocumented immigrants and LGBT people. I agreed to talk about these things because it would be good for people to learn about them. This will help children know more by they are grownups. I came up with all the names and the dreams. We had a long conversation about the transgender prince and we decided together that he would be a transgender boy prince. I drew all the illustrations at my house. I also helped my mom proof the book with a red pen.
Was it fun drawing your own pictures to go along with the words?
It was a lot of fun to draw the pictures. I was careful to match the different skin colors and the outfits. I was happy to draw all kinds of skin colors, not just white. It was fun drawing the princesses and the prince. I had to do all the work, but my mom helped me color a little bit.
I read that you love to read. What are some of your favorite children’s books?
I like the books about Ruby Lu—she is Chinese American. Anna Hibiscus, she is from Africa. I also like Every Day on Earth, that one is a science book. I also like Sonia Sotomayor, the Spanish and English version.
Before we end, is there anything extra that you really want people to know about Tell a Story, Tell a Dream Birthday Cake? And will you be publishing any more books with your mom anytime soon?
AB: I want people and children to read my book and to learn peace, to get along, and to not make fun of others because they are different. I also want people to be happy and children to write their own books.
Yes, my mom and I are now working on a few more books. We are working on a series of chapter books about detective kids.
By Angela Bermudez
Publisher’s Synopsis: The protagonists are an adopted princess from Sierra Leone, a princess who is a daughter of a single mother by choice, a princess whose lesbian mothers come from Iran and Mexico, and a transgender prince. Angela Bermudez, a 6 year old Latina New Yorker, self-published a radically different book to help other children like her see themselves in children’s books. With her mom’s help, Angela wrote this book, mostly during cross town bus and subway rides to and from school or to theater rehearsals. Angela combined phonetically complicated names, true and imaginary facts, with stories from her own life. She also borrowed stories from close friends and chosen family, who are mostly people of color, LGBT and undocumented immigrants living in New York City. Angela also drew all the illustrations in the book.
Ages 6+ with Parental Guidance | Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1502907585
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