The Children’s Book Review Interview in partnership with William Wilberforce III, author of VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost!
Author and illustrator William G. Wilberforce III masterfully weaves a playful modern-day fable that is brimming with lessons of self-confidence, determination, and positivity. With VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost, Wilberforce skillfully uses his background as a health coach and life trainer to share with young readers the importance of believing in oneself, focusing on what you can control in your life, and remaining positive and hopeful. Families and educators of young children will welcome the invitation for discussion that this joyful book brings.
VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost! is an uplifting story with a powerful message about working hard, learning, and trying your best. What was your inspiration for writing this story?
My clients had always told me that I should do motivational speaking, especially for kids. Before I could see that through, I had gone through my own personal “Mt. Everest” climb. I had a few health scares that started before the beginning of the pandemic and eventually had seven surgical procedures to get myself to today. Even though I was constantly in and out of the hospital, I knew that if I could keep falling forward, it would pass eventually. That message of perseverance would be something that I needed to give to children.
There’s no doubt that it can be hard to try new things. Why do you think having a book about overcoming fears and having a growth mindset is essential for children?
I think we’re capable of SO much, but we often defeat ourselves before we get started. We’re scared to take our lumps or be mediocre at something at first before we can be great. The sooner we’re able to realize that our fears are mostly made up by what we’re telling ourselves and if we shift our focus to what’s possible, the better. A lot of progress can be made when we focus on what we can control. The power of knowing that if you keep trying, you’ll eventually get better is something both adults and kids need to remember. Hopefully, this will help kids establish a positive foundation.
What impact do you hope VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost! will have on readers?
I hope families enjoy reading this together and readers realize that they can do anything if they try one more time! I hope it inspires more excitement when we fall forward.
As you are both the writer and the illustrator of VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost!, will you tell us how you created the artwork?
That was a fun process! I loved drawing as a kid, but it had been some time since I had done it. As I was writing the story, I knew the picture the words were going to paint, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I played around with some animal concepts and was able to create the default look of the main characters. The challenge was being able to create the scenes. Drawing Barry falling on the first page gave me the confidence to keep going forward. After I sketched all the pages, I transferred those over to my iPad to make the final draft!
What was your process for writing this story?
I would go to my “Secret Spot” by the Waterfront and bring my laptop and just write what I could for the day. Some days were easier than others. These stories are based on people I know and my experiences so when I thought about how difficult it was for me to rollerblade as a child, it became easy to create an outline from there. I don’t have any kids, so I’d bounce ideas off my friends with kids to see if the story would make sense and that was a huge assist in the process.
What do you think is the secret sauce for creating an enjoyable children’s book?
I don’t know if I got the sauce, but the books that I enjoyed were both fun for the parents and the kids to read! Having a great lesson and some humor is always a good cherry on top in my opinion.
I read that you knew storytelling was in your future during a trip to Rome. Can you tell us why this particular trip inspired you to become a writer?
We all get caught up in so many things that are trivial and we lose the sense of what really matters. I had just got my clean bill of health and I was wondering what my next chapter in life (pun intended) was going to look like. When I arrived, everything there just knocked my socks off. The history of the city, the stories, and the level of detail in these pieces of art just lit my soul on fire. Everything that was in these pieces of art/stories was what mattered. I naturally give advice in stories, so it just made sense to do the same with the world. Being in that environment took me from dragging my feet, to sprinting to finish this book.
Will you be writing more children’s stories in the future, and if so, will they also feature Barry?
ABSOLUTELY! I’m already in the process of my second book. That one won’t have Barry, but there will definitely be more books with Barry and his whole group of friends!
How do you spend your time when you’re not reading and writing stories for children?
I work out, I listen to a lot of audiobooks and music, I’ve been learning how to paint, I take my nephew on walks, and I run my own personal training business.
Is there anything else you feel we should know about you, your writing, or VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost!?
I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed creating it! I hope this story speaks to your inner Barry! The book is available for preorder on Amazon and Google Play now! Be on the watch for my next book!
About the Book
Written and Illustrated by William Wilberforce III
Ages 3-8 | 28 Pages
Publisher: William Wilberforce III | ISBN-13: 9788412328133
Publisher’s Synopsis: When a big bear has doubts he can ever be as fast as his friends, he learns that practice and believing in himself will help him reach his dreams.
Young Barry the Bear has a need for speed. What he doesn’t need is friends telling him that he’s too big to be fast and won’t ever be able to win the big race. With some positive guidance from a new monkey friend, Barry learns that anything is possible if he puts his mind to it. VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost is beautifully written and illustrated by William G. Wilberforce III, a personal health coach whose mission is to “serve and help people believe that what they want is possible.”
Kari the rabbit teased that Barry, a bear, was too big for rollerblades. Determined to prove his friend wrong, Barry donned the skates but immediately fell flat on his face while the other animals around him laughed, to Barry’s great embarrassment. This made Barry feel very small.
While his other friends tried to buoy his spirits, Barry started to believe that he would never be fast like Kari. Then he meets Fast Tommy, a monkey who is practicing for an upcoming race, who tells him to meet him the next day for some tips on how to be fast like him.
The next day, Barry has doubts that Fast Tommy will be able to help him. What if he can’t skate right away, or falls down, and doesn’t win the race? Tommy tells him to only focus on what he can control now – how hard he works at it, taking baby steps, and having a positive attitude.
When Barry tries to skate, he falls…again and again. He falls so much that it’s all he can think about, which Tommy says is the problem: “If we keep thinking about falling, we’ll fall! There’s something good out of every fall. Let’s just think about pushing one foot in front of the other.”
With steady practice, believing he can do it, and a secret “weapon” he learns from Tommy – the Power Boost – Barry is ready for the upcoming race…and what happens at the finish line surprises both Kari and himself.
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About the Author
Children’s book author William G. Wilberforce III knew that storytelling was in his future during a trip to Rome, a city with its own storied history.
All of William’s stories are based on his own life lessons, people that he knows, and experiences that he’s collected, particularly the period of time that he spent in the hospital following two surgeries to save his life. Envisioning his children’s stories during some of the worst days of his life became therapeutic for him, enabling him to see the positive and the best days ahead and laying the foundation for his books.
William thinks a good story is one that is fun but ends with a theme that young readers can relate to and that stays with them long after the book is closed. His new picture book, VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost, shares with children to always believe in themselves and their capabilities and silence the voice of self-doubt.
William is also the illustrator of his stories. As a child, his mischievous background was the interesting launchpad for how he learned to draw. When he was grounded, he’d see all the new toys in the Sunday newspaper ads but, since he had been naughty, his parents wouldn’t buy them for him. Instead, William took to drawing these favorite toys, coloring them and cutting them out, and keeping them in a special jar as his own toys, and a future artist was born.
When he isn’t writing inspiring children’s stories, William is a health coach and runs a personal training business whose mission is to improve his clients’ lives and help people believe that what they want is possible. He listens to many audiobooks, enjoys working out, walking in nature, and listening to music. With his parents originally hailing from Ghana, William lives in San Diego, California, with his pup, Smokey. VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost is his debut children’s book.
For more information, visit https://williamwilberforceiii.com/.
This interview—William Wilberforce III Discusses VROOM! Barry, Kari, and the Power Boost!—was conducted between William Wilberforce III and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with