A speed interview with Jackie Azúa Kramer, author of I Wish You Knew
The Children’s Book Review
Jackie Azúa Kramer studied acting and voice at New York University and earned her MA at Queens College for Counseling in Education. Jackie has worked as an actor, singer, and school counselor. Her work with children presented her with an opportunity to address their concerns, secrets, and hopes through storytelling. Now she spends her time writing children’s picture books. Jackie’s books include the award-winning The Green Umbrella (a Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year), If You Want to Fall Asleep, and The Boy and the Gorilla.
Jackie lives with her family in Long Island, New York. When not writing, you’ll find Jackie reading, watching old movies, and traveling to her family’s roots in Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Spain.
Which five words best describe I Wish You Knew?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: Empathy, community, family, hope, love.
Can you share a highlight from the book? Or maybe your thoughts on, or an excerpt of, your favorite sentence, paragraph, or page?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: There is much to love in Magdalena’s illustrations. But if I had to choose, it’s the page where the despair of Estrella, and the deep purple colors in the art, marry the text beautifully.
“I wish you knew that since my father left, my mother works a lot. And my little brother has bad dreams. I wish everyone knew how much I miss him.”
What has been the most rewarding reaction from a reader so far?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: Teachers are sharing how the book is a great primer for the start of school. I’m moved that the book helps to start a meaningful conversation between students and teachers.
Please share your thoughts on why you feel books like I Wish You Knew are great additions to a child’s home library.
Jackie Azúa Kramer: The story explores deportation, food insecurity, homelessness, and divided families. It’s an opportunity for a child and caregiver to interact with the story and ask questions. Hopefully, it helps to build empathy, kindness, and understanding in young readers.
For your writing energy: sugar or salt, tea or coffee?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: Neither. Taking walks in nature. But if I had to pick from your choices, salt would win by far.
Writing tools: computer, pen and paper, or all of the above?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: Hmm. My stories begin in my mind. Like a movie, they scroll across my mind’s eye. I see a clear beginning and end and a fuzzy middle. Once I have that, then I can begin the physical act of typing on my computer which I’m not the best at, haha.
What’s on your nightstand? Any books?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: Not at this time. I’m a huge black and white movie fan and costume dramas like Room with a View.
What’s the last thing you experienced that made you laugh or cry?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: Both. The birth of my grandchild this past September. I remember the miracle and love of the birth of my own kids. I never thought I could feel that way again, but yes, I did!
Can you tell us something that even your most loyal fans may not know about you?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: I say a prayer every night to those who came before me, to those who are with me now, and to those who’ll be here way after I’m gone. I truly believe we are all connected in the universe.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Jackie Azúa Kramer: JOY!
About the Abook
Publisher’s Synopsis: A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Children’s Book of 2021
When Estrella’s father has to leave because
he wasn’t born here, like her,
She misses him.
And she wishes people knew the way it affects her.
At home. At school.
But a school wrapped around a hundred-year-old oak tree is the perfect place to share and listen.
Some kids miss family,
Some kids are hungry,
Some kids live in shelters.
But nobody is alone.
A story about deportation, divided families, and the importance of community in the midst of uncertainty.
Buy the Book
This speed interview with Jackie Azúa Kramer was conducted by Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Compassion, Diversity, Jackie Azúa Kramer, School Life, and Picture Book. Be sure to follow along with our Speed Interview series, too.