Saturday, December 3, 2022

Q&A with Monica Acker




Monica Acker is the author of the new children's picture book Brave Like Mom.


Q: You write that your sister-in-law and nieces were the inspiration for Brave Like Mom. Can you say more about that?


A: Absolutely. Brave Like Mom came from my heart. My sister-in-law had been feeling unwell for a while. Finally, in 2018, there was a diagnosis. It was stage IV gastric cancer. She met it head on with treatments and surgery, all while being a mom to her two young girls.


At one point, when my sister-in-law was unable to receive her regular chemo treatment, what would become Brave Like Mom poured out of me. About a year and a half later, when there were no treatments left to try, I started working on this story again. I knew she was going to leave us too soon. And she did. In early 2020, my sister-in-law passed away.


But she also left behind a legacy of strength and bravery. The way my nieces care for each other and look out for each other is for sure a gift from their mom. My sister-in-law and nieces are not the characters in Brave Like Mom, but they are the fierceness and light I tried to capture on the page. 


Q: What do you think Paran Kim's illustrations add to the story?


A: The topic is not an easy one and somehow Paran managed to capture the gravity of loving someone with a serious illness without invoking fear. The illustrations add the love and tenderness this mother and daughter feel for each other. Paran also captures that growing confidence as the main character realizes she is strong, brave, and fierce, just like her mom. 


Q: How would you describe the relationship between the mom and the daughter in the story?


A: The daughter in Brave Like Mom thinks the world of her mom. She wants to be just like her. What I hope the daughter sees, and the reader as well, is that the mom admires her daughter just as much.


I love the cover image because they both have an arm around the other. They are both holding each other up, supporting one another. Based on that, I would say the mother and daughter have a relationship of mutual love and admiration.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: My hope is that any child who reads Brave Like Mom, whether they are in a similar situation or not, understands that being brave does not mean you're not scared. I hope the child reader can identify ways they are everyday brave or strong or fierce.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have many irons in the fire and hope some more picture books will find a home soon.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Paran gave the daughter a stuffed lion that appears several times throughout Brave Like Mom. I adore how she added this symbol of bravery that the daughter has had all along.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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