Behind the Scenes:
Kids Learn Self-Publishing
(And Share Their Wisdom about Friendship)
December, 2023 -- In the spring of 2023, 9-year-old Solterra Way Cottage School student, Nanami Nagao, shared that she had always wanted to learn to write and publish a book. Her dream set in motion a months-long collaboration to develop Oops, Sorry! And Thanks.
Five stories by Nanami and twenty watercolor illustrations by her friend and classmate, Yuma Ishizaka, create a reassuring narrative. The resulting book teaches that even the strongest friendships encounter bumps along the way, and it's usually possible to repair relationships by nurturing the bonds that matter.
Helpful how-to sections written by Patricia come from years of experience teaching Montessori "Grace and Courtesy" lessons. She provides practical guidance for sincerly saying, "I'm sorry" and "thank you."
Creating this book involved writing, revising, editing, proofreading, interior and cover formatting, budgeting, and even profit sharing and using a spreadsheet for profit/loss calculations! Soon, the girls will have public speaking opportunities at some book launch events. Everyone has learned a lot - especially Patricia!
If they sell 275 books, Nanami and Yuma know the profit/loss numbers will turn black, and they'll enjoy some royalties. These young makers have learned about marketing that every positive review helps sell another book!
Show your support:
Buy a book,
enjoy the read,
share it with a special young reader, and
don't forget to write a review for these talented creators.
From the Creators: Nanami
Which story was your favorite to write, and why?
Diego’s birthday party. Because it was a birthday party and those are always fun! And there were lots of details.
What challenges did you face while writing the stories, and how did you overcome them?
I especially found expressing Indigo’s anger hard because I haven’t been hit by a viola before and I didn’t know how much it hurts, and how mad I would be.
Do you think learning about apology and thankfulness can benefit people of all ages, not just kids?
I think it can benefit readers of all ages because it is never too late to learn how to apologize or to say thank you like you really mean it.
How did you and your co-author (Patricia) work together to write the book?
We talked about how the book should go and picked out names for our characters.
How did you and your illustrator (Yuma) work together? Was anything about working together hard?
I told her the details for the illustrations to show the readers what I couldn’t write in words. I gave her a really long list to paint. She really painted well. When Ms.Patricia asked me who should do the illustrations, I said Yuma, of course!
Did your collaboration with Yuma make your friendship stronger or did it strain it?
Stronger, Of course! At school, we would talk about the book a lot.
What are your future writing goals or aspirations?
To write an entire series.
Why did you have Indigo end up going to college at Clemson?? Why not UNC?
We did a little research and it said Clemson is a university with a good women’s tennis team.
Did you think about the stories first, or the characters?
The characters. It made it easy for me to think of how the story should go and which character should do which part.
How did you get the ideas for the stories?
Once I decided the characters and we knew the themes, the stories just popped into my head.
How did it feel to see your book in print?
I really like books with lots of pictures, so I was happy to see all the colors.
From the Creators: Yuma
What was your favorite part of the book to illustrate, and why?
My favorite part was where I illustrated the 4 grown-up kids, cheering Indigo. It was very fun to imagine what they look like.
Were there any challenges you faced while illustrating the book, and how did you overcome them?
Yes, I had a hard time putting the emotions on the character’s faces. I was not sure what the emotions would look like when it came to the illustrations, so I asked my parents and searched on the websites to come up with them.
Did you collaborate with the author or have creative freedom in creating your illustrations?
The writer Nanami, explained to me what she wants the illustrations to look like and she even listed her ideas on the paper. I combined my ideas into it and illustrated.
Are there any specific art techniques or styles that you enjoy using? Did you use them for this book?
I usually use colored pencils for my drawings but I used watercolors this time. It was a little hard because the colors always changed with the amount of the water it contains.
How do you feel seeing your illustrations in the finished book?
I was very proud of myself and I thought it was a very good experience. Doing all the illustrations took months, but seeing my work in print made it all worthwhile.
From the Creators: Patricia
Why did you write this book?
Everyone needs to know how to say thank you and make a sincere apology. I’ve taught these lessons for years to elementary school students, so when Nanami asked me to help her publish a book, the topic made for an ideal collaboration with her stories and my lessons. Yuma’s illustrations were the perfect complement.
Have you published anything else?
In the 1990s, I published an article in the Harvard Educational Review about my role as a hearing educator working in collaboration with Deaf Community members to serve families with Deaf children.
And in 2023, I published The Novice Investor's Guide to Stocks, Funds, and Options. What's amusing about this investing book is that, despite their very different topics, its structure closely resembles that of Oops, Sorry! And Thanks. Both books follow a similar format, featuring recurrent characters with narratives and interspersed how-to sections. In The Novice Investor's Guide, there's a running story about Alyssa, whose grandmother gifts her 10 shares of Coca-Cola stock when she's a child. By the end of the book, Alyssa has a professional job with a 401(k), uses options to boost her investment portfolio, inherits money from her grandmother, and is teaching her niece to invest. The timing of the publication coincided with the day Nanami asked me to assist her in publishing her own book, adding additional symmetry to our intersecting projects.
Any plans to for another book?
I'm tossing around an idea for a book called "The Nice Good-bye" about preschool and kindergarten morning drop off.
Ask Patricia to teach a 45-minute class for your elementary school age group.
"This is the most wholesome book I've ever read." Patricia
Books Can Save a Life
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Versatile Social Skills Primer
Reviewed in the United States on January 26, 2024
... Each chapter in this engaging book combines a story that dramatizes a social skill with a brief checklist of key concepts to reinforce learning. ... Delightful color illustrations ... a treasure of a book that fills such a timely need. ... skillfully produced by an aspiring writer, Nanami Nagao, age 10; an accomplished young artist, Yuma Ishizaka, age 10; and an experienced educator and school administrator, Patricia Saylor. This versatile book will work well in ... any setting in which kindness and civility are valued.