Otto: the not so little giant follows a boy who lives in a town of giants, but is much smaller than the rest of the giants and wishes he could be bigger. What was the inspiration for your story?
After years of working and performing for young children, I began to see how they begin to identify themselves by their “differences” and how that often makes them feel like they don’t fit in with their peers or the world at large. It can be anything from being “too short” or “too tall” or “too thin” or “too heavy” or having to wear glasses or find out their sexual orientation…mostly things they have no control over. This leaves them feeling “small” and with a sense of not belonging. I was inspired to remind little ones that those things that create these insecurities are actually what makes them unique and special and can be seen as strengths. And I wanted to tell it in a way that was fun and exciting and positive.
Otto starts out being picked on and has low self-esteem, but comes to appreciate their differences. What were some ideals that drove the development of your character?
When confronted with his insecurities, Otto is fortunate to have loving and supportive parents and a best friend, Lizzie, who sees no difference to him and celebrates each day with him. He is taught to never give up. That whatever he wants to accomplish is his for the taking. When he is faced with a real-life emergency and discovers that what makes him “different” is actually what will allow him to save his friend, he begins to realize his own worth and the value of him in his village. He is also famous for what he is capable of doing.
What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?
That each child is unique and special and should be celebrated for who they are. Childhood for everyone comes with tests of our self-esteem and questions about where we fit in. I hope this story reminds little ones who question themselves that being true to oneself, finding the good around them and celebrating our differences will always make them a “giant”!
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a sequel that will take Otto and Lizzie on a new adventure with a few lessons to learn along the way with the hope that it will be ready for publication in 2023.
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