Today, Jan. 11, Examiner.com had the opportunity to interview children's book author Hakeem Animashaun. His debut book "Adventures of the Magical Orange Boots: The World's First Children's Book Illustrated by You" is now available on Amazon.
What is the inspiration behind the name of the book?
Hakeem: It was the summer before my big move to New York. At the time, I was this 20 year old skinny kid living in Los Angeles with nothing but time on my hands. So I spent a lot of that time exploring the streets of LA with friends. On one of those hot summer days I walked into a popular thrift store called Buffalo Exchange in hopes of finding something cool. So there I am, scouring through these used clothes and shoes coming up empty handed. After several minutes of this, I become frustrated and headed toward the exit. Just as I opened the door, an employee said, "Have a nice day." As I looked back to reply, I spotted a bright orange glow coming from a pair of boots. Looking back on the moment, the glow must have been produced by the sun. But during the moment, I could have sworn it was magical. So I grabbed the boots before anyone else could, paid the lady behind the register the 45 bucks, and traveled all throughout New York with them.
I experienced Times Square for the first time with the boots, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge; you know all these New York landmarks. And each picture I took, the caption would be "Adventures of the Orange Boots." Ironically enough, I’ve always wanted to write a kids book since I was a kid. I loved watching "The Reading Rainbow." I thought the idea behind it was so cool. As I started writing the book in late 2012, I realized kids have a huge and quite awesome imagination. So the original title ‘Adventures of the Orange Boots’ became ‘Adventures of the Bright Awesome Glowing Magical Orange Boots.’ (Laughs) Now that would have been too much even for kids. So I condensed it down to what it is now, "Adventures of the Magical Orange Boots." I think everyone is happy with that choice.
Do you hope to see the book used in schools?
I definitely see it being used in elementary schools throughout the world. I envision teachers using the book as an interactive tool to engage kids in the arts and also using it to promote cognitive development being that the kids create their own visuals from the text. This book really provides a platform for kids to express themselves artistically. So in that sense, it is an academic book.
What are you looking for the audience to gain from this book?
I want kids to gain the confidence to communicate effectively through the use of visual images. I want kids to be able to express themselves as freely as possible. I want their imagination to run wild as they read the book. And I want kids to then communicate that imagination on paper. I feel if kids learn those crucial skills at a young age, they will have an awesome life.
Is this the first book of its kind?
Yeah no doubt it is! No book in the whole entire world has ever been completely self-illustrated. Children create their own visuals from the text. That is a completely new and innovative idea. It's going to change the way teachers teach children in the classroom. It's going to change the way kids learn. My book, "Adventures of the Magical Orange Boots," will create a whole new product category for children’s books. You know a wise man once told me, in order to reach your full potential you have to become a child again. I believe over the year I was writing the book, I tapped into my inner 5 year old and created an awesome product.