The Children’s Book Review Interview in partnership with Elyssa Nicole Trust, author of Daisy Moves to America
Elyssa Nicole Trust is an award-winning actor, voiceover artist, playwright, screenwriter, and children’s book author. In addition to her work on stage and screen, she is the Artistic Director of Ahava Theatre Company. In this interview, we talk about her humorous rhyming picture book, Daisy Moves to America, which dives into the common language that separates Americans and Brits, with an important message for readers about accepting themselves and others.
Your knowledge of British lingo is pretty extensive—have you lived in the UK yourself?
Thank you! This is the biggest compliment. I have not lived in the UK myself, but I do have many British friends and have been to London. As a playwright and screenwriter, my writing process tends to involve a lot of research. I spent so much time researching the differences between British and American English and asked my British friends a ton of questions.
What prompted you to write a story about the challenges of moving to a new country?
This book was initially inspired by an exchange I had with my friend Hannah, who is originally from Australia and grew up in the UK. One day we were in the car and she said we needed petrol. I said, “petrol?” Then I realized that she meant we needed gas. It occurred to me that we had conversations like that all the time. I started thinking about the various words and phrases she introduced me to over the course of our friendship, and that is what initially sparked the idea for this book. I thought about what it would’ve been like if Hannah had moved to the states as a little girl and how certain children in America may have treated her. I was working in children’s theatre at the time and thought about how many of the kids tried to fit in with one another. They all had unique gifts to contribute but would rather be the same as everyone else.
While I never moved to another country permanently, I did live abroad in both Spain and Israel for an extended period of time and found it challenging as well as exhilarating. Like Daisy, I have been the new kid before and was bullied as a child. Daisy Moves to America is about a little girl who wants to speak like her American classmates to fit in, but then learns that her uniqueness is something to honor and celebrate. Once Daisy accepts herself, her classmates are eager to as well. My hope is that the book inspires young readers to be proud of who they are and recognize that uniqueness is a strength. It can also serve as a learning tool for children in the US to learn words and phrases that are typically associated with British English and vice versa. Additionally, I hope it encourages children to be welcoming to those who are different from them. Hopefully this book will inspire kids to embrace anyone new coming into their classroom.
Daisy experiences some bullying in the story, and it takes a little while for the adults to come to her aid—in fact, the teachers never step in. Do you feel teachers should be more aware of this type of classroom bullying?
Yes, I think teachers need to be cognizant of what is going on in their classroom and keep an eye out for bullying. It’s important for teachers to express a no-tolerance policy for bullying and for their students to know that there will be consequences if they are cruel to other children.
I love that you invite readers to connect on Instagram. Have many reached out, and what inspired that idea?
The book came out today and hopefully, by the time this interview comes out, many will have reached out! Funny story, I had to add a page for printing purposes, actually! One of my mentors had a page in her book that asked readers to leave an Amazon review. I wanted to take it one step further by intentionally connecting with my readers and their families. Something that lights me up as a writer is learning how my work affects people. It’s meaningful to hear that someone felt seen, heard, and understood by something I wrote, and it motivates me to keep writing. Daisy Moves to America is a universal story, and I want to hear about all of the amazing children and families it resonates with. As a consumer, I always let creators know that their work impacted me. Connection with others is so important to me and I really do hope that people reach out.
You also run the Positive Creativity Podcast—can you tell us a little more about what “positive creativity” means to you?
Yes! Thank you for this plug. I co-host Positive Creativity Podcast with my friend Lauren Schaffel. We speak with actors, writers, directors, casting directors, and other artists about what they’re working on, what’s inspiring them, and how they stay positive in the entertainment industry. We have recorded 2 seasons and are currently working on our 3rd. To me, positive creativity is having a growth mindset about my work and being clear on who my work is for and who it is not for. It is also about investing time into my artistry as both a writer and an actor. Positive Creativity is also about finding joy in the creative process rather than focusing on the outcome. Another big part of positive creativity for me is uplifting other people’s work and that is the part of the podcast that fills me with the most pride. As a creative, it is important for me to champion the accomplishments of my peers.
What advice do you have for parents planning to move their children abroad?
Given I am not a parent yet, I feel supremely unqualified to answer this question. I will say that we live in a unique time with technology and I would encourage anyone moving to a different country to take advantage of that in terms of creating new social connections and staying in touch with old ones. My other advice is to acknowledge the significance of moving and allow children to talk about their emotions around it. Validate their feelings that it will be difficult while also reassuring them that it will be okay. On pg. 21 of Daisy Moves to America, Daisy says about her parents:
“They hold me tight and draw me near.
They know that life is different here.
They tell me that it will improve,
and that I soon will find my groove.”
It’s quite a leap from acting to writing. What inspired you to start writing books for children?
I am still a professional actor and voiceover artist though nearly all of my acting work has been on pause because of the pandemic. In my first semester of college, I took a children’s literature course and the final project was to write a children’s book. That project brought me so much joy, so it was always in the back of my mind to write for children. Children’s books foster communication, empathy, and creative thinking. Being able to contribute to that fills me with excitement. I also love how simple and straightforward children’s literature is. Over the past few years, my focus as a writer has been on being a playwright and a screenwriter because it is so related to my performing career. A silver lining of my pandemic experience is that it reignited my passion for children’s literature.
There are many cultural aspects that children find difficult when moving from one place to another. Why did you choose to focus on language in particular?
Language has always fascinated me. It is intrinsic to identity and the expression of culture. I’ve always found the different words and phrases between British and American English so interesting. Accents are also really interesting to me!
Will you be writing more stories about Daisy and her family in the future?
I am staying open to possibility. I would love for Daisy to be an animated series or a musical someday. Perhaps there will be another book in the future! Time will tell.
What will your next creative project be?
I am working on a new draft of my pilot that examines women’s issues from a fresh lens. I am also collaborating on another children’s book and launching Ahava Theatre Company’s educational program. I will be reading children’s books to kids over Zoom through Ahava Theatre starting in March and am so excited about that!
Learn more about Elyssa at www.elyssanicoletrust.com.
Daisy Moves to America
Written by Elyssa Nicole Trust
Illustrated by Alvin Adhi
Ages 4-8 | 34 Pages
Publisher: Elyssa Nicole Trust | ISBN: 978-1-7363545-2-0
Publisher’s Synopsis: Have you ever been the new kid?
When Daisy Mae and her family move from England to America, Daisy is teased because of her British accent. Overwhelmed by the many words and phrases that are different, Daisy wants to speak just like her American classmates.
Follow Daisy’s journey as she learns that her uniqueness is something to honor and celebrate. You may even learn a few new words along the way.
“Combining some gentle language learning with an important message about self-esteem, this book is sure to leave readers with a smile.” — The Children’s Book Review
Buy the Book
This interview—Elyssa Nicole Trust Discusses Daisy Moves to America—was conducted between Yolanda Felton and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Author Interview, Bunny Books, France, Paris, Picture Book, and Travel.