I had the pleasure of interviewing a brand new author today, of a new children’s book, with a very relevant and innovative approach to learning the ABC’s. The unusual and captivating essence of this new pop culture publication is that the alphabet is taught through pictures relating to the songs of the 1980’s ….and the author is only 8 years old.
In his book, Sam has taken a letter from the alphabet, chosen a song representing that same letter, and then drawing a picture of a portrayal of the song. For example, “P” is for “Purple Rain”, and there on the page lies a picture of purple rain through the eyes of Sam.
Louder than War:Sam, you are a very creative artist, how old are you?
Thank you. I’m 8.
What gave you the idea to illustrate and write this book?
One day in the car I heard “Hold Me Now” by The Thompson Twins, and when I got home I drew a picture of my mom holding me, and then I just started drawing more.
Lori: On the way to Kindergarten we heard that song on the radio. I remember so clearly him saying, “mommy isn’t that song so pretty”, He asked questions about it, and then he went on to something else like Sponge Bob. Then he called me in to see a picture and asked me if I knew what it was. I knew right away. It was a picture of a little kid and a mom in a chair. Then he just started doing more and more.
Sam, do you like the songs of the 80’s?
Do you have a favorite 80’s group or song?
I don’t have a favorite group, but I have some favorite songs. I like Purple Rain, Man in the Mirror, and stuff like that.
Sam, are you so excited to be a published author?
Do all of your friends have a copy?
No, because it came out right before summer, but I gave a copy to my teachers. The book came out in May, so school was over and I didn’t have time to give a book to everyone in my class. So we decided to just give them to the teachers.
Have you done any book signings yet?
Yes. I only signed books that I gave to my mom’s friends. She tells me to write my name on them.
What grade are you in Sam?
I’m going into third grade.
Most kids your age don’t really write and publish books you are very special. Do your friends think you’re famous?
Well, I haven’t told all my friends about it.
What was your favorite letter to illustrate?
My favorite letter was “Video Killed the Radio Star”.
Did you choose all the pictures that you drew?
Yes and no, because we decided on them together.
Did mom help you a lot?
Well……she played the songs for me.
Lori do you have a favorite 80’s group?
My love for the 80’s music transcends all the genres. I love Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, and Depeche Mode, David Bowie, and The Rolling Stones have been a favorite of mine since I was 10 years old. I love the 80’s stuff that they did.
Lori are you going to send a copy out to all the groups represented in the book?
I’ve been reaching out to some people. I just got an email back from the guy from Wang Chung, I’ve been in touch with Frankie, the drummer from Quiet Riot, and he’s been so supportive. But yes, I’d love to get it out to every artist in the book.
Sam: If Michael Jackson was still alive, I would send one to him.
I’m sad that he’s not, but I like the thought behind it. How long did it take you to create this book?
When I was doing the drawing from this book, I did one or two a day.
Lori: it took a while because the drawings basically came from the website first. When the idea of the book came along, it was like “L” would be for Live Bites, because that was such a great picture. The artwork we already had, and just pulled it off the website.Then he did a couple of new ones,for example we didn’t have one for “U”, so we did Under Pressure.
Lori you write a blog about the 80’s correct?
I am a blogger for Huffington Post, and a lot of my posts are around nostalgia, and growing up in the 80s. Then I have my own blog called ” Once Upon A Product”, with old pictures and 80 stuff on there.
So Sam, tell me what you do when you’re not writing books.
I play video games, I play outside, I cook, we play board games sometimes, I take the dog out, we ride our bikes,….
Where are you guys from?
We are from Portland Oregon.
Are going to write a sequel to this book?
I don’t know. If it does good maybe. We have enough songs on the website.
So Sam I want to wish you a lot of luck with your book, it’s a great way for children to learn the alphabet.
For more information: http://drawntothe80s.com
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.