Jacqueline Jules is the author of the new children's book Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Hears It All, the seventh in her Zapato Power series. Her other books include Never Say a Mean Word Again and Drop By Drop. She is also a poet, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Dragon Poet Review and Marsh Hawk Review. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new Freddie Ramos book?
A: Zapato Power #7:Freddie Ramos Hears It All continues the storyline of Zapato Power #6: Freddie Ramos Rules New York.
Zapato Power #6 answers the question young readers have asked me at almost every school visit. What happens when Freddie outgrows his sneakers? After all, Freddie’s super-powered purple sneakers are special and the source of his super powers. Can they be replaced when Freddie’s feet get too big for them?
The answer is fortunately “YES.” But the new magic sneakers don’t work exactly like the old ones. Freddie receives a new super power. In addition to super speed and super bounce, Freddie now has super hearing.
The plot line of Freddie Ramos Rules New York gave Freddie only a few brief opportunities to test his super hearing. I wanted to give Freddie more time to use his new super power and to consider the possibilities for his career as an elementary school super hero.
While super hearing is a wonderful asset, it can also be a big responsibility. What do you do if you have overheard a private conversation? Should you use the information? Can Freddie use his super hearing without becoming a super snoop?
In Freddie Ramos Hears It All, Freddie must deal with the dilemma of having a super power which constantly distracts him. Should he answer every call for help?
Q: Much of the book takes place at the Air and Space Museum in Washington. Why did you decide on that as a location?
A: The Air and Space Museum setting was chosen for two reasons. First off, I wanted to keep the series fresh by giving Freddie a new environment for adventure. Many of the earlier stories take place in and around Starwood Elementary and Starwood Park Apartments. It was fun to see Freddie in New York for Zapato Power #6. Why not give him a new place to run around in Zapato Power #7, too?
I chose a field trip to the Air and Space Museum. On a field trip, Freddie would be able to interact with his friends from school and have new opportunities for helping others. By Chapter 2, Freddie is off searching for a young child lost in the museum.
Since I live in the Washington, D.C., area, visiting the Air and Space Museum to do research was easy. I spent a lovely day at the museum, gathering ideas for Freddie Ramos Hears It All.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: Most kids are attracted to superhero stories. They enjoy imagining themselves with extraordinary abilities like Superman or Wonder Woman. When Freddie mysteriously receives a box with super-powered purple sneakers, he lives every kid’s dream.
However, the reality of getting what you want can be more challenging than you expected. How do you manage your real life with the distraction of super hearing? Would you be tempted to use your super hearing in the wrong way?
As kids read Freddie Ramos Hears It All, I hope they will consider how the ability to eavesdrop could complicate their lives. Freddie learns new things about himself in Freddie Ramos Hears It All. He grows emotionally. I love giving Freddie the chance to grow as a character as the series continues.
Q: What do you think Miguel Benitez's illustrations add to the books?
A: I adore Miguel’s illustrations. They provide a comic book dimension to Freddie’s adventures. Some of the illustrations are done in panels. In Zapato Power #1: Freddie Ramos Takes Off, Freddie is seen racing out of a panel, as he experiences the freedom of super speed for the very first time.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: This morning, I went over the copyedits for Zapato Power #8: Freddie Ramos Adds It All Up. I am thrilled to share that Freddie will have an 8th adventure in 2019.
This story is set at Starwood Elementary where Freddie is failing math and afraid his friends will make fun of him. At the same time, he is trying to help a mysterious new girl who is being bullied. As he grapples with both problems, Freddie gains a new perspective on how to help someone who is sensitive about being different.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Please visit my website to find activity sheets, songs, and other ideas for using my books in the classroom.
Please Like Me on Facebook at Children’s Books by Jacqueline Jules to hear all the latest news on my books.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Jacqueline Jules.