Hello, little foxes! Welcome back to the blog for another author interview! Today I’d like to introduce you to Saadia Faruqi, author of Meet Yasmin.
Meet Yasmin! Yasmin Ahmad is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers. Goodreads
Meet Yasmin! Yasmin Ahmad is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers.
I guarantee that you’ll love Yasmin as much as her author does. Meet Yasmin belongs on all of our children’s shelves.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a Pakistani American writer, essayist and cultural sensitivity trainer. I immigrated to the United States when I was in my early twenties, and currently live in Houston with my family. I frequently write in publications like the Huffington Post and many others about the American Muslim experience. I’ve written an adult short story collection called Brick Walls, and Meet Yasmin! is my debut for children’s fiction.
What made you want to write Meet Yasmin?
I saw a dearth of early reader books with brown representation, especially South Asian. My daughter was at the age when she was beginning to read independently, and she didn’t like anything that was out there. I felt that there needed to be books she could read and identify with, and being a writer, decided to do something about it. Yasmin is a lot like my daughter, and her family is a lot like mine, which means I can show the world an authentic and positive picture of Muslims and South Asians they may not see in the media.
What’s one thing that would surprise people to know about you?
I studied in a Catholic convent from grade one all the way to the end of high school.
What are your top 3 book recommendations for people?
It’s difficult to limit myself to just 3! I co-host a podcast called Lifelines with Ann Braden, a fellow kidlit author, and my segment consists of book recommendations to open up your mind and see a different perspective. Even with that twice-monthly podcast segment I can never get all my recommendations in. I prefer to recommend authors – Hena Khan for books with Muslim characters, Roshani Chokshi for South Asian fantasy and mythology, and Uma Krishnaswami for contemporary and historical South Asian.
What do you always keep on you?
My phone. I am a social media addict and I cannot live without checking my phone every few minutes. My kids are always making fun of me!
What kind of magnets do you have on your fridge?
Things my children, especially my daughter, brings home from school or the library. There was one from the Junior Achievement that stayed on the fridge for the longest time. And there’s a magnet my sister sent me that says YOU ROCK! after I reached some weight loss goals. The best magnets though are the ones teachers send home with my kids, which are basically a picture of the child and a magnet attached at the back. I just love those!
What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?
I’m a really boring person. In my spare time I either read or watch Netflix. Probably the thing I like to do the most is nap. I can nap anywhere, anytime, so that may just be my unusual hobby.
What is your favorite food, and why?
I love biryani, which is a South Asian spicy rice dish. What’s funny is that I used to dislike biryani quite a bit when I was younger, and my mother would get quite frustrated with me because she’d spend all day cooking this elaborate and time consuming dish, and I’d refuse to eat it. I’m not sure why I like it, because ordinarily I’m not a fan of spicy foods, and also not a fan of rice. A therapist would probably say I have childhood emotions attached to it.
What is your favorite part about Meet Yasmin?
My favorite part was writing the family members. Yasmin has a Mama and a Baba, but she also has a Nani (grandmother) and a Nana (grandfather) living with her. South Asian people typically live together in multi-generational families, and I was able to bring a lot of my own memories and antics to the grandparents in this series. Plus just being able to showcase a loving, caring, family unit is such a joy.
If you could tell the whole world one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I have a lot of stories about Muslim kids just waiting to be put on the pages of books.