Dr. Tamara Pizzoli, author of the Ghanaian Goldilocks and founder of The English Schoolhouse.
Here at Imprints Press, we love stories that have the power to transport you to new places and cultures, that resonate with you, open up your world, and have you dreaming about the characters and story landscape for days to come. To us, The Ghanaian Goldilocks by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli, was just one of these stories. We can’t get enough of this retake on a classic children’s story and featured it on our six favorite children’s book list for Children’s Book Day.
Dr. Pizzoli is a gifted writer who shares our philosophy about the importance of diversity and global awareness in children’s books, and is the founder of The English Schoolhouse, a boutique publishing house based in Texas and run in Italy. A true global citizen, Dr. Pizzoli splits her time between Italy and Texas while raising her two children and using her creative potential to craft some amazing children’s books.
Check out our interview with Dr. Pizzoli below to learn more about her books, some tips about teaching global citizenship to your kids, and how to connect with The English Schoolhouse on social media:
The Ghanaian Goldilocks is a silver medal winner in the multicultural category of the eLit awards.
Imprints Press: What inspired you to write the Ghanaian Goldilocks?
Dr. Pizzoli: I became inspired by watching my eldest son Noah at his uncle's house when he was around three years old. We were visiting and he was touching things he had no business touching and tasting things he had no business tasting, so I leaned over and said, "Who do you think you are? Goldilocks?!" Noah has always had this incredible sense of humor. The notion of him behaving like Goldilocks in that moment really did crack him up, and it got me thinking, "Why not? Why not have a story in which Goldilocks is a boy that looks just like my son, with a golden-tipped afro?" The story came to me so fast. Once I sat down and started writing it took just a few days, really.
Imprints Press: What is your favorite part about writing children’s books?
Dr. Pizzoli: My favorite part is when I first get an idea. I become really giddy with excitement and search frantically for something to write with. I really do love having the luxury of feeling creative.
Imprints Press: What were your favorite children’s books growing up? Do you have a favorite book now?
Dr. Pizzoli: Oh dear. There were and are so many. My favorite book of all time is Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard and illustrated by fellow Texas native James Marshall. I really love anything by James Marshall. My first book, The Ghanaian Goldilocks, is a rewrite of the classic Goldilocks fairytale, but James Marshall is the master of the rewritten classics. His word choices are delightful as are his illustrations. I'm such a fan and have been since I was small. Some of my other favorite authors are Patricia Polacco, Tomie dePaola, Dr. Seuss, David Shannon, Jane Yolen and Mark Teague, and Robert Munsch. I taught Kindergarten forever so the list goes on and on.
Imprints Press: Can you give us any sneak-peeks about what books you plan to publish next?
Dr. Pizzoli: Yes, actually. Phil, my illustrator, is working on a multicultural cookbook for kids, and I've just partnered with a new illustrator as well, Rolando Diaz. Funniest thing happened, I bumped into this guy in a coffee shop, gave him my card, and he offered to illustrate one of my books on the spot. "Look me up and see if you think I'm good enough," he told me. Well I did. And he is. He's an extraordinary artist with such an impressive portfolio. But the story of how he came to be an illustrator I'm working with, well that's just one of my favorites ever. Never underestimate small talk in a coffee shop! So the next two books coming up will more than likely be K is for Kimchi and Aunt Bunny.
A collection of children's books available by The English Schoolhouse.
Imprints Press: What suggestions do you have for parents or teachers that want to teach about diversity or global citizenship?
Dr. Pizzoli: Read incessantly and travel if you can! I'm a big believer in the power of experiences. Each of the languages I speak came from positive interactions with others. I didn't learn Spanish or Italian from some textbook. I learned from a best friend and by falling in love. I grew up in a very multicultural environment. My middle school best friend's Korean mom taught me to crochet...in Korean! The best teacher is someone who loves you and with whom you have a sincere bond, so encouraging children to have meaningful, beautiful relationships and experiences with those who are of different backgrounds, religions, and cultures is such a gift for them. Plus, they do this naturally! Varied experiences in general are phenomenal for enhancing cultural awareness...taking a language class, eating at a Vietnamese restaurant for the first time...these types of activities grow your mind, and your heart.
Imprints Press: What message do you have for kids out there reading your books?
Dr. Pizzoli: Have fun and enjoy! I wrote them with you in mind. Also, I'd love to hear what you think about them once you've read them.
If you want to connect with Dr. Pizzoli and The English Schoolhouse Publishing, check out their social media presence below: