About the Author: “Baptiste Paul is a Caribbean-born children’s book author. He is a native Creole/Patois speaker who enjoys sharing stories of his experiences with anyone who will listen. His debut picture book, The Field,was inspired by his childhood in St Lucia, and received starred reviews from Kirkus, The Horn Book, and Booklist. Baptiste’s stories are fueled by his passion for diversity, inclusion, and uninhibited jwe (play).” (Bio and headshot from the author’s website.)
Find Baptiste Paul on the following platforms:
A huge thank you to Baptiste Paul for the following interview where he speaks about his work as a children’s author, future projects, and his most recent release from Barefoot Books, To Carnival!: A Celebration in Saint Lucia, illustrated by Jana Glatt. Read our review of this fantastic new picture book here. You can also find our review of the picture book Peace here, which Baptiste Paul co-wrote with Miranda Paul and was illustrated by Estelí Meza.
Baptiste Paul: When I think about celebrations, I think of friends, family, and maybe a cake. Since getting together is not the safest thing for us right now, I got myself excited about my new releases by listening to some reggae, soca and calypso music. However, my family and I celebrated by eating macaroons.
As a picture book author, you hope that the materials you create will be well received by kids and hopefully, adults as well. The years of research and writing boils down to a single moment — release day. With each new release, I wonder if people are going to be as excited as I am about this book. So far, the reviews for Peace and To Carnival have been very positive.
I would say that each release is a little different. Prior to the pandemic, I would be at schools presenting to kids — signing at bookstores and festivals. Right now, I’ve turned to social media as the primary vehicle to drum up excitement about my work. Before, I would make an occasional online post but lately it’s quite frequent.
BP: In many aspects, I would say that it’s magical to see that part of your life on a page, but at the same time, it forces you to relive some uncomfortable moments. As a child, my family struggled. Those struggles did not define me. In my story To Carnival, my protagonist, Melba, overcame many challenges on her way to carnival. Her journey, her struggles, and her resilience in many ways are similar to my own experiences.
BP: Yes, I would say it’s a deliberate thematic thread simply because I matter. I want kids who look like me and grew up like me to know that they matter as well. The themes of play, joy and community is central to how I grew up. My inspiration, would definitely be my childhood experiences. I wrote those stories because when I reflect back on my childhood years, there were lots of playful and joyous moments in the midst of the poverty my family experienced.
BP: If I could visit the Grand Canyon every single day I would. But currently, I take comfort and joy walking along the creek in my backyard and listening to the wildlife. This past week, I placed signs that notify others that there is wildlife nesting nearby, so others will respect and appreciate nature just like I do.
My biggest piece of advice I would give to young environmentalists everywhere, is that you are never too young to take action.
BP: I am always working on new materials. Up next for me is a book called Climb On. This book is also about my experiences growing up in St. Lucia. There are a few more projects that I’m working on, but since they are under contract, I can’t share the details yet. Stay tuned! There will definitely be more books by Baptiste Paul in the future.
PRR Assistant Director, Hannah Miller