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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

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In Kids & Family

The cover of "Three Scoops and a Fig" by Milwaukee's Sara Laux Akin.

Local author reads in celebration of Children's Book Week


"The Hungry Caterpillar." "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel." "Frog and Toad Are Friends." "Harold and The Purple Crayon." "Goodnight Moon."

The list of classic and terrific children's books goes on and on, and the South Milwaukee Public Library, 1907 10th Ave., is saluting kids' books on the national and local level on Wednesday, May 4 with a program called "One World, Many Stories."

The free event runs from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. and will feature interactive story times, drawing, student artwork, creative activities, the selling and signing of books, prizes and refreshments—including a special Italian treat related to one of the books.

Plus, local author Sara Laux Akin will read her first picture book, "Three Scoops and a Fig," and talk about storytelling. OnMilwaukee.com recently caught up with Akin and asked her more about her latest writing endeavor.

OnMilwaukee.com: This is your first book, right? What led you to write it?

Sara Laux Akin: Yes, "Three Scoops and a Fig" is my first book. I have always loved to read and write. Always. Growing up in Appleton, my mom brought me to story time at the public library. Each week we'd hunt for a pile of books to bring home with us. I never stopped reading or writing. Later, I earned my master's in Speech / Language Pathology from Marquette and when my children were younger, I studied the craft of writing for children.

OMC: What have you written in the past?

SLA: I have also written fiction for children's literary magazines, including Highlight's and Ladybug Magazine.

OMC: What is different about writing this book than other pieces you wrote?

SLA: Writing fiction for magazines is very different than writing a picture book. When you write a picture book it is truly a collaborative effort. The author needs to leave "space" for the illustrator to tell 50 percent of the story. I was very fortunate to be paired with award-winning illustrator, Susan Kathleen Hartung. Her gorgeous watercolors are incredible; she truly brought the story to life.

OMC: What is the story about exactly and what brought you to write it?

SLA: "Three Scoops and a Fig" is a story about a little girl named Sofia. Sofia's family owns an Italian restaurant. Her grandparents are coming for dinner and she wants to help prepare the meal. After a few kitchen mishaps, everyone tells her she is "troppo piccola." (Too little.) Determined to help, Sofia creates a special sundae with three scoops of gelato, one for each generation of her family, with a fig on top for her cat Figaro.

A lot of different elements came together to create this story. While on a family trip to California I was very taken with the magnificent fig trees. The memory of their beauty stayed with me and eventually wove its way into my story. Ultimately, "Three Scoops" was inspired by my love of family.

OMC: Didn't the book recently receive an award?

SLA: Yes, "Three Scoops and a Fig" was recently made Bank Street College's Best Children's Books of 2011 list – which is fantastico!

OMC: What were your favorite book as a kid?

SLA: My favorite picture book was "Miss Suzy" by Miriam Young, pictures by Arnold Lobel. Later I fell in love with "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

OMC: What do you love about writing?

SLA: The best part of being an author is the idea of bringing stories / books into children's lives. I love writing stories that help children feel more connected to themselves and to the world around them.


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