Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
It’s Autism Acceptance Month, and I’m delighted to feature my friend, Aneta Cruz, and her beautiful picture book Juan Has the Jitters, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto. I hope you’re all doing well and excited to learn more about Aneta and her inspiring book!
Description from the publisher, North Atlantic Books:
A story about inclusion, diversity, and the power of math to help one boy with autism thrive among his peers.
Kaitlyn: Hi, Aneta, thank you so much for joining us today!
Aneta: It is definitely my pleasure. Happy to be here.
Kaitlyn: Wonderful! It’s my pleasure as well! Can you start off by sharing how this book came to be?
Aneta: This story truly wrote itself, but the inspiration for it was born out of experience, observation, and the love for my students. I teach Pre-K kiddos on the ASD spectrum.
Kaitlyn: That must be such a rewarding experience, and your students must love the book! Can you share why you think stories like these are so important for our little ones?
Aneta: It is important that children see themselves in stories about disabilities without necessarily being labeled as such. Juan in my story is never labeled as autistic. He’s just a boy who processes and learns things differently, but he is not different from others. Like all children, he loves to learn, participate, have fun, and belong.
Kaitlyn: Juan is such a wonderful character, and I love how his teacher found a great way to get him involved. Can you share a bit about this?
Aneta: Juan’s teacher had a very good understanding about his interests and strengths. He was able to create fun lessons and experiences that allowed Juan to thrive in a social situation he otherwise would have avoided. As teachers we have to tie our lessons to something students know and love. Differentiating instruction is an important teaching strategy for someone who works in special education, but I believe it should extend into general education classrooms as well. All students learn in a different way, and it is up to us to figure out how and build on it.
Kaitlyn: Well said! Differentiation can be so difficult, but definitely worth it if done well, like in your story. If you had to pick, what’s your favorite spread and why?
Aneta: Miki Yamamoto did such a wonderful job illustrating this book… I cannot pick just one. I love them all!
Kaitlyn: Awe, I love that, and I agree, such lovely art work! Now, if you had to give some advice, what advice do you like to share with authors?
Aneta: Believe in your story, and believe in yourself. And, of course, the basic: read, write, repeat.
Kaitlyn: Such great advice; I think as writers sometimes we really believe in others and need to be reminded to believe in ourselves, so thank you so much for that remind, Aneta. Now, what’s next for you?
Aneta: My second PB, ASTRONAUT TRAINING (Where the Wild Things Are meets Goldilocks in space), a STEM book illustrated by Olivia Aserr, just celebrated its first birthday! So that was worthy of a sweet treat. Otherwise, I keep reading, writing, and submitting my current MSs because there are more stories I want to share with the world.
Kaitlyn: That’s wonderful! I bet my readers are excited to read both of your books and will be happy to cheer you on when you get more books into the world, too! Finally, if you could meet your favorite author, illustrator, scientist, historical figure, or mathematician would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Aneta: I would love to meet Neil deGrasse Tyson and chat with him about all things Universe.
Kaitlyn: That sounds aweome and maybe someday you and Neil can chat about the universe while traveling through the stars with your Astronaut Training book! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining us today, Aneta!
Aneta: I thank you and your readers for sharing your time with me.
Kaitlyn: My pleasure!
Juan Has the Jitters and Astronaut Training
Juan Has the Jitters on Amazon
Juan Has the Jitters on Barnes and Noble
Aneta Cruz was born and raised behind the Iron Curtain in the then Czechoslovakia. She learned to cope and to dream through books and immigrated to the USA with a goal of becoming an author. She holds a BA in English Literature, MFA in Creative Writing, and an Early Childhood Special Education Credential. When she’s not teaching her class of preschoolers diagnosed with Autism and Speech/Language Impairment how to love books (among other things) as much as she does, she reads and writes PBs, MG/YA folk/fairytales, and adult romcoms.
Juan Has the Jitters is such a special book that helps show children it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be scared, and you can be different and scared and still be part of something big. With fun, playful art that will make kids smile, this story will inspire children to empower themselves as well as accept others.
Giveaway – (4 chances to win!) A signed copy of Juan Has the Jitters (US only) and 3 PB (fiction, non-rhyming) critiques
To enter the random drawing, do any/all of the following options, then come back and write all of the things you did in ONE blog comment. (If you forget something, feel free to reply to your first comment ;))
- Share that you added Juan Has the Jitters to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share that you ordered a copy of either of Aneta’s books
- Share that you did a purchase request for either of Aneta’s books at your library
- Share that you left a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble
- Share that you retweeted or quote retweeted my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tagged some friends.
Thank you all for supporting such wonderful creators! For those of you who entered the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, thank you for sharing your work with us! Ciara, Alyssa, and I are enjoying reading your beautiful and funny and creative work. Please be patient with us as we give each entry the time it deserves, and make sure to subscribe to my blog and Ciara’s blog to stay updated and make sure to thank our guest judge, Alyssa Eisner Henkin; this tweet shares wonderful ways to thank her, and if you haven’t checked out all the ways to thank our prize donors and interact with other Spring Fling Kidlit participants, check out our #SpringFlingKidlit hashtag.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez