Part 2 ~ Q&A and Giveaway with Kelly Garcia & Takako and the Great Typhoon

(Here is the second part of my Q&A with children’s book author and friend, Kelly Garcia.)

PB ~ Have you always wanted to write a children’s book or was this a surprise to you?

Well, I suppose it was a surprise; although, I never rule out anything!  I find that I enjoy writing about foreign countries, travel adventures and interesting intercultural experiences.  I write about my culinary adventures in Okinawa on a blog called, but other than that have never really written seriously.  I guess though that this story is kind of a travel adventure in its own way…a “travel adventure fantasy folktale”!

PB ~ Takako does a lot of things while on her adventure. You use some terms that non-Japanese readers may have trouble understanding. Would you please explain some of the more foreign things that Takako does with her fellow islanders?

Kelly ~ Let’s see.  Takako plays gateball with the “obaasans (grandmas) and ojiisans (grandpas)”.  Gateball is kind of a croquette game that is very popular with the older folks here.  I can think of three gateball fields within about a five-minute walk of my house.  A “typhoon” is basically a hurricane that forms over the Pacific Ocean.  “Banyan trees” are these gorgeous twisty, gnarly trees that are found in Okinawa.  I’ve got some beautiful examples in my neighborhood.

In a few of the illustrations you’ll see these round things on sticks.  These are actually mirrors.  They are on almost every corner to help drivers navigate through the narrow streets without getting hit by an unseen car.  Very typical Okinawa.  Also, you’ll see a vending machine in one scene.  It may seem strange, but that too is something I would consider to be the quintessential Okinawa.


PB ~ Living in Okinawa myself, I know that your descriptions of the typhoon are pretty dead on. Thank goodness my Shisa dogs do there job well. What are some of the things your family does during one of these powerful storms?

Kelly ~ Not much, to tell the truth.  We have a huge water cooler, so we are set there.  I try and get some DVDs and books from the library for entertainment in case the satellite goes out!  We bring everything in the house from outside, but that’s pretty much it.  I don’t do a ton of extra shopping.  I guess I’m pretty laid back.  When I see the local Okinawans taking a storm seriously, that’s when I know it’s time to be careful!  But usually for them it’s business as usual.

PB ~ What was your favorite part in the development of your book?

Kelly ~ This is really hard to say.  Practically the whole process, apart from dealing with the folks in the shipping department at the printer’s, was interesting for me.  Writing the story itself was enjoyable because it was a creative challenge that shook the cobwebs out of my brain.  Also, my meetings with Carmen the illustrator, were fantastic.  I especially loved our first meeting after she finished her initial sketches for the book scenes.  Seeing how she brought the story to life with her pictures was pretty darn thrilling.  We talked through each scene and discussed the things we liked about them and ideas for changes to make them better.  I loved that collaborative aspect of it.  Being able to bounce around ideas with another person who was also enthusiastic about the project has been invaluable.  It was fun working with Erin, the graphic designer, too.  She brought me different ideas about page layout, fonts, book cover options and things like that.  So many things to decide!  But totally fun.

If I hadn’t gone the self-publishing route, I doubt I’d have a hand in any of that kind of stuff.  I’m sure it would have been a slicker/cleaner book if I’d gone through a traditional publisher, but I am learning SO much doing it this way.  Heck, I just built a website for the first time and right now I’m learning all the multitudes of things that go into book promotion.  Figuring everything out is actually causing me to lose sleep.  I have a to-do list about a mile long.  But I just love it!

PB ~ Do you think you may write a book that represents all the places you will live in the future?

Kelly ~ I don’t know.  I foresee myself having lived in a lot of places, so that might be tough.  This book, though, was written for my son, Gabriel.  So, if I have any more kids, I guess I owe each of them a book too!  Hopefully it’ll get easier each time I do it.


PB ~ How can people get their own copies of Takako and the Great Typhoon?

Kelly ~ They can click on www.shisastory.comand order a copy there via Paypal. If they live in Okinawa, they can stop by the AAFES Bazaar at the Foster Field House April 17th-19th.  Or they can email me at and we can work something out.

Also, you can get a sneak peak of the book on the website in a video my fabulous hubby put together (the image quality is MUCH better in person!  Carmen’s color is awesome!) Even if you don’t get the book, I’d be just as thrilled if you became a fan on Facebook (search Takako and the Great Typhoon) or mention it to some friends or rate the video preview!  Or e-mail me some nifty marketing ideas!  I’m really, really excited about the book and just trying to share any way I can.  Okay, enough shameless promotion from me.  If you’ve read down this far you deserve a medal!  Karen, thank you for your questions and your post!  xxoo — Kelly

You can learn more about Takako and the Great Typhoon, Kelly and life on Okinawa by checking out the website HERE.  To enter to win a signed copy of Takako and the Great Typhoon leave a comment and on this post and tell us your favorite children’s book when you were little.  The drawing will run until Sunday at Midnight, EST.  Good Luck!

21 thoughts on “Part 2 ~ Q&A and Giveaway with Kelly Garcia & Takako and the Great Typhoon

  1. This story sounds so interesting. We would love a signed copy 🙂 My kids loved the video preview of the story.

  2. Kelly, congrats on the book! I can’t wait to get a copy at the bazaar this weekend. In fact, I plan on getting 2 (1 for me and 1 for the school I used to teach at). As for my favorite book, it was probably “The Foot Book” by Dr. Seuss. When I used to teach kindergarten, Dr. Seuss week was one of my favorite weeks to teach!!! Eric Carle books are favorites of mine as well!!! I wish you much success with your book!! I would LOVE to win a signed copy too!!!

  3. I’d love to win this book for my grandchild. My favorite book as a child was Winnie The Poo. Thanks for an excellent and informative interview with the author!

  4. Yeah Kelly! You go girl! My favourite book as a child was little red riding hood and all the ‘ladybird’ books. And I am too old to remember all the other favs!!!

  5. Congrats, Kelly! I’d love to add this book to our new baby’s library. When I was little, I loved Curious George and the Boxcar Children. Best of luck!

  6. Congratulations! I think your book looks great and I’m sure my kids will enjoy looking at it for years to come as we reminisce about our time in Okinawa. I think my favorite book was probably Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

  7. I love the You Tube vid of the book. It really gave me a feel for the book.

    How did she go about finding an Illustrator? I’ve always wondered about that, especially with a self-published work.

    My favorite book from childhood.. The Giving Tree. It’s still a favorite with me today.

  8. Love, Love, Love this!!! What a great idea, Kelly! I am excited to get a copy, we sooooo miss Oki and know that this will help us to remember it every time we read it. By the way your little one is adorable!! Congrats and take care.

  9. Kelly, what a great book with some phenomenal illustrations! I am so impressed with this book!!! I would love to share a signed copy of this book with my neices and my second cousins (children), who would better understand the cultural context of my experiences, while living in this part of the world. Your book is a treasure for anyone young and of age! For those of us that lived in Okinawa, it is such a special reminder of what we experienced, learned, and loved about this distant place! Again, thank you for writing this book!

    My favorite children’s author today and as a child is: Hans Christian Andersen. My absolute favorite stories by Andersen are and were: The Little Match Girl and The Ugly Duckling. Even as a child, these stories touched my heart!


  10. I love living in Okinawa so much. I would love to win this book! One of my purchases before I leave will be a set of Shisas to bring home with us.

    My favorite book when I was little was called “One White Crocodile Smile”. It was a counting book and I think it’s out of print now. I’d like to find a copy for my kids but I have still to find one.

    Thanks for another great giveaway!

  11. Thanks for the chance to be considered. Writing from Maryland, USA. My mom wrote and illustrated a book for me when I was very young, but there was no such thing as self publishing as far as I know back in the mid 70s. This is a special thing you have done! I loved Alexander and theTerrible Horrible No-Good Very Bad Day. And much later, the Hardy Boys.

  12. this book sounds so exotic for me over here in new jersey! 🙂 the illustrations are really pretty, too. (and the baby is adorable!!)

    i’d love to win this book for my nephew. growing up, i favored ‘cloudy with a chance of meatballs’ and ‘a pair of red clogs’.


  13. Wow, what an inspirational story! That is part of the reason that I started (or continued, I should say….) my blog – was to document things to read to my children later on. I don’t think my imagination is big enough to write a childrens story though… lol. Thanks for sharing this book and link with us! I’m going to check it out! I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon… still do! We also read Richard Scarry books all the time – my mom still has them all!

  14. AWESOME! I am so excited for you!

    When I was younger I enjoyed all of the “Frog and Toad” books. Do you remember those –yikes–am I aging myself? 🙂

  15. I love that this book has come to life. I think it was a wonderful idea. The illustrations and story seem right on. Anyone living or wanting to visit Okinawa would love to receive this book, I’m sure.

    My favorite books growing up were by the author Beverly Cleary, my absolute favorite was Snowbound with Betsy. I still have it and read it every winter.

  16. Great review and awesome story. I missed going to the bazaar to buy one. It’s definitely on my list to get one, though!! My favorite story as a kid was the Chronicles of Narnia. Of course, I also liked Where the Sidewalk Ends. Classics! Good luck to whoever wins the drawing!!

  17. Thanks so much for your interest, everyone! So interesting learning everyone’s favorite children’s books. Ti: I found the illustrator, by placing an ad on a popular local website for artists who would be interested in learning more about my book project. I met with a few people and those who were interested in it did a sketch of a scene from the book so I could have an idea of whether our styles meshed. I was very lucky to have found Carmen that way!

  18. I am writing little books for my new grandchildren as a way of connecting them to my past. I loved your concept and especially the illustrations. Are they done with watercolour pencils? I am now inspired to find out more about shisas as
    we do not know about them here. I am a keen Gateball player in Brisbane, and was sent this link from another gateball player so the internet can lead you to amazing links around the world. I will order one of your books. You are an inspiration.

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