Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, September 2, 2019

An Inside Look #103 (Author INTERVIEW)

An Inside Look with Laura Resau
(Author of Tree of Dreams)

*During the summer of 2016, I added this feature to the blog which was called "Season #ONE".  This first season ran from June of 2016 to March of 2017.  

*I started up the interviews again in June of 2017.  It was great to get back to Season #TWO.  This season ran throughout the summer.  

*Season #THREE ran during the school year of 2017-2018.  

*The next season (season #FOUR) of interviews took place during the summer and fall of 2018.  With each interview I became more and more impressed with the authors I was having interactions with.  

*Season #FIVE ran during the 2018/2019 school year.  I took a little break during June of 2019.

*I'm thrilled to be back with season #SIX featuring all new books, authors, and conversations.  

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*This is the TWELVTH interview of what I'm calling Season #SIX.

*Thank you to Laura Resau for being the One-Hundred Third author that I've had the pleasure of interviewing.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first One Hundred Two interviews…

SEASON #ONE (2016-2017)

SEASON #FOUR (Summer 2018)

SEASON #FIVE (2018/2019)

Interview #81 with Tony Abbott (Author of The Great Jeff)

Interview #82 with Susan Ross (Author of Searching for Lottie)

Interview #83 with Gillian McDunn (Author of Caterpillar Summer)

Interview #84 with Rebecca Ansari (Author of The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly)

Interview #85 with Ali Standish (Author of August Isle)

Interview #86 with Shaun David Hutchinson (Author of The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried)

Interview #87 with Greg Howard (Author of The Whispers)

Interview #88 with Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Author of Shouting at the Rain)

Interview #89 with Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Author of One for the Murphys)

Interview #90 with Laurie Morrison (Author of Up for Air)

Interview #91 with Jody J. Little (Author of Mostly the Honest Truth)

SEASON #SIX (Summer 2019)

Interview #92 with John David Anderson (Author of Finding Orion)

Interview #93 with Lisa Thompson (Author of The Light Jar)

Interview #94 with Keith Calabrese (Author of A Drop of Hope)

Interview #95 with Alicia D. Williams (Author of Genesis Begins Again)

Interview #96 with Kim Ventrella (Author of Bone Hollow)

Interview #97 with Natalie Lloyd (Author of Over the Moon)

Interview #98 with Cynthia Lord (Author of Because of the Rabbit)

Interview #99 with Tina Athaide (Author of Orange for the Sunsets)

Interview #100 with Elly Swartz (Author of Give and Take)

Interview #101 with Amy Rebecca Tan (Author of A Kind of Paradise)

Interview #102 with Varsha Bajaj (Author of Count Me In)

*Laura Resau was kind, gracious, and giving with her answers to the questions.  It is an honor to post her responses here on the blog. 

*Thank you Laura for writing this incredible and thought-provoking book.

*Here is my book review...

Tree of Dreams 

by Laura Resau (March 26, 2019)

How did you come to know Coco?
To create Coco’s character, I drew on aspects of myself as a kid. The part about growing up in a chocolate shop is more wish-fulfillment… but the friendship issues she faces with her former best friend, Leo, were issues I dealt with at her age. And her life-changing journey to the Amazon rain forest was inspired by my own travels around Latin America, all of which transformed me somehow.

What do you think is Coco’s most admirable quality?
Her willingness to open her heart and let it grow. To me, this means the ability to empathize with people and nature, to embrace new experiences, to grow and change, to connect in new ways, to reflect on her assumptions, and to allow herself to transform.

Is there anything you wish Coco would have changed or done differently in her story?
She did some selfish things in the first part of the book, but that was part of her growth and transformation. Since she sees life through a lens of chocolate, she’d probably explain that those selfish actions were like the fermentation part of her journey—a necessary step to creating something marvelous.

What do you think Coco can offer to other children that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?
I hope she makes other kids realize that they are connected in so many ways to people, places, and nature all over the world, near and far. I hope she inspires readers to grow their hearts!

How did you research Coco and the circumstances she found herself in?
Oh, these were the fun parts! I traveled to a remote Huaorani (aka Waorani) community in the Amazon Rain Forest. Like Coco, I flew in on a tiny 4-seater plane, then rode downstream in a dugout canoe to reach the community. My guide, Pegonka, showed me around his forest home and generously taught me skills like shooting a blowgun and climbing tall tree trunks. He and his community also shared their experiences, thoughts, dreams, and stories with me, and helped me understand the challenges they face.  And then there’s the chocolate part of the book! This *grueling* research involved visiting sustainable cacao farms and craft chocolate factories and shops, where I learned about the process of making (and tasting!) bean-to-bar chocolate. A great deal of chocolate was consumed, all in the name of research!

Do you and Coco share any similarities?
We both LOVE chocolate and are fascinated by existence… from tiny molecules to vast galaxies. We are both an odd mix of homebody-hobbits and adventure-seekers.

What was the hardest scene to write about Coco?
I felt devastated along with Coco when she encounters the destruction from an oil-drilling operation in the Amazon. After spending a day experiencing the joys and wonders of the rain forest, she finds herself in a razed-down wasteland, oozing pollution. It was painful to write… tears were shed… but ultimately, it’s that pain that motivates Coco to help her friends save their forest.

Who do you think was Coco's biggest supporter and why?
Coco is fortunate to have Gali-- a kind of adopted grandfather who is an eccentric artist and wise mentor. He sees what her heart really needs, even though she doesn’t quite realize it until later on her journey. He helps her get to the Amazon, and he helps her grow her heart.

Why do you think some young people, like Coco, are willing to fight for a bigger cause, when some children are just focused on themselves and can’t see the larger picture?
I think that if kids open their hearts to hearing other people’s stories, they can’t help but care about them. Both travel and books are great ways to empathize with people whose lives may be very different from your own. And that motivates you to take action!

What do you think Coco is doing as the present time?
Oh, maybe cleaning her spirit beneath a rain forest waterfall with her dear friend, Isa… strengthening their hearts to keep defending the rain forest! (And fortifying themselves with chocolate, too, of course…)

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