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An Interview With Big Dreamer Kristi Yamaguchi

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I recently read Kristi Yamaguchi’s wonderful new children’s book, Dream Big, Little Pig! and thought it would be fun to find out just what makes this amazingly talented and committed woman tick. Please read my interview with this figure skating superstar, Olympic gold medalist, philanthropist and mother.

By the way, fans, she’ll be in L.A. to promote her book March 21st – 23rd! L.A. Parent is giving away four family four-packs of tickets to the Pasadena Ice Skating Center on March 22nd (6:30-8:30pm) where she’ll be skating around and signing books for her fans. Click here for more info, but please note that the contest ends 9:30 a.m. on March 17.

Q. In your new picture book for kids, Dream Big, Little Pig, Poppy the Pig never seems to get overly discouraged because she has such strong support and encouragement from family and friends. As a child, did you have the same type of “You can do it” encouragement?
A. I did have similar encouragement growing up. From my family as well as my friends and skating coach.

Q. What would you say to parents who push their children to achieve what they want for their kids, rather than what the children want?
A. It’s a fine line between pushing too hard and lending support and encouragement. Sometimes kids need a push to get them on track again, but if it is constant, maybe that’s a cue that it is just not for them. An athlete needs to have a certain passion for what they do, for their sport. Success doesn’t come easy and if they don’t absolutely believe in what they are doing, it’ll be a tough road for everyone involved. Let the child take ownership of his /her activities.

kristi-yamaguchi_credit-claire-deliman-for-m-magazine1Q. What words of advice can you offer to children who suffer from low self-esteem and are fearful to try something new?
A. As a mom now, I find myself faced with all of these issues. I ask my daughter what is it that makes her afraid. And then try to reason or alleviate her fear or anxiety. Then show her how fun it can be. I also try to stress that it is OK to make mistakes. That is how we learn. ie. when we go skating I will fall on purpose on the ice and say ” see, even mommy falls down.” It’s all about trying and trying again.

Q. Your Always Dream Foundation inspires children to reach for the stars. But down to earth, how do you as a busy mom positively influence your two daughters on a day-to-day basis?
A. Easier said than done. Sometimes I feel like I’m just trying to get through the day remembering everyone’s schedule:) But I try to be positive myself around them and try to instill in them the same values that my parents gave me – having manners, treating people how they want to be treated, responsibility of their own things, trying as hard as they can in whatever they are doing.
Q. How is writing for kids different than writing your previous books?
A. With Dream Big, Little Pig!, it was fun to come up with a character with personality. I had my own big dreams of what Poppy would be like and what she would try. I wanted it to be very whimsical rather than factual like my other books. I had to also imagine the illustrations that would go along with the story.

Q. What qualities do you admire most in Poppy the pig?
A. I admire the perseverance that Poppy has. She is willing to try new things and when she finds that they aren’t for her she continues to look for her “passion.” When she discovers her passion, despite the obstacles and doubters, she pushes on and enjoys her own feeling of personal accomplishment. I love her positive attitude, too!

Q. Will Poppy be back to conquer more challenges?
A. I certainly hope so!!!

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You Can Change The World

31 Ways to Change the World (Candlewick Press, $8.99, ages 8-12) is reviewed today by Debbie Glade.

0763645060med31 Ways to Change the World is the result of suggestions from thousands of children. The theory is that “Small Actions x Lots of People = Big Change.” Inside this ultra colorful and busy book are 31 really cute and crafty, yet simple actions we can take every day to make the world a better place to live. I love that the book teaches kids about consumption, waste and preservation, plus treating others well. For example, Action #11 teaches you to the love the stuff you already have. Other actions include teaching your granny to text, giving people compliments, taking shorter showers and not starting a war. Hey, maybe this book should be for adults too. In any event, the premise of 31 Ways to Change the World is all for the greater good, and it really is clever. I’m sending my copy to my daughter, who is a freshman in college. I know she’s going to love it. She’ll particularly enjoy Action #25, which is “Talk Trash to Your Parents.”

debbieglade1Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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