This interview is a work of FICTION with the authors bringing their characters to life.
Bekki: Hello Jaden. I am Bekki the Fairy. I am great because I do helpful spells. What is your most greatest, bestest thing about you?
Jaden: I think a lot of people would say my hair. When we went to New York City people stopped me on almost every block to say they liked my hair. Seriously. At first, I was giving people helpful hints on growing their afros, but then Mama kept telling me to just say, “Thank you,” even though that doesn’t seem very helpful at all.
But I wouldn’t say my hair is the best thing about me. I think my ninja dancing is way better than my hair.
Bekki: I can do some of the moves from Single Ladies. What are your favourite dance moves?
Jaden: It’s probably a tie between the Robot and the Moonwalk. Or a mega-tie between the Robot, the Moonwalk, the Warrior, Ninja on Tiptoe, the Rainbow, and the Dab. On second thought, I’ll just say the Dab. My sister taught me that one.
Bekki: My brother Sam used to be my baby-sitter but he won’t do it anymore because I turned him into a hotdog. Is your sister Sissy your baby-sitter?
Jaden: No, but she really, really wants to be. I told her if she really wants to convince Mama and Baba that she should make a PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint presentations are scientifically proven to convince parents of anything. That and petitions.
I even said I’d help her make it because I’m kind of an expert in PowerPoints and all we’d have to do is become experts in the law so we could make a perfect case to convince our parents, but she said, “No, thank you,” for some strange reason. Weird, right?
Bekki: You’re from New Orleans? That’s in the United States, isn’t it? I come from London but I am a mixture of Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Portugal and Scotland. Are you a mixture?
Jaden: Um…I’m not sure. But [pulls out notebook] that gives me a great idea for a research project.
Bekki: Can you speak any Swahili?
Jaden: I know the Nguzo Saba (that means seven principles) from Kwanza, and I know how to say hello now that my cousin Muffin taught me. My mom can speak a lot of French, but Chinese is more my thing.
Bekki: Does your big hair take a lot of looking after?
Jaden: Sometimes. My mom washes it and combs it into my alien hair (my mom calls it twists, but alien hair is just better) and then leaves it to dry like that. Then I either wear my alien hair to school or I pull the aliens apart in an epic battle and free my ‘fro. That’s the best part. After a while my mom makes me get it washed again, though.
Bekki: What is the best thing about your mum?
Jaden: She gives really good hugs and she makes the best muffins.
Bekki: Do you want me to do a magic spell to turn you into a Ladek?
Jaden: So that I can become the most hated creature on the planet and nearby galaxies?!? No thanks.
Bekki: Hmmmf, suit yourself! I do skipping and I like rhyming songs. Have you got any good ones to share with me, please?
Jaden: If you like songs that rhyme you should listen to “My Shot” from Hamilton. It’s epic and it has lots of rhymes in it. Like, a ton.
Bekki: I love that song! Thanks for telling me about it! [Bekki dances and makes assertive hand gestures].
That show is coming to London– maybe mum will bring me. Now, next question, who is your favourite teacher and why?
Jaden: Miss Bates is the best teacher in the whole wide world! She knows how to do all the best stuff. Like, seriously. She does. One time she even showed us how to slice a banana without peeling it.
Bekki: If you were a toy would you be an action hero, a cuddly plush toy or a paper doll with loads of outfits?
Jaden: All of them. Definitely all of them. Action heroes are good for the tub and science experiments because they can get wet. Paper dolls are cool because I could make tons of ties for my tie collection. And, I mean, everybody likes plushies, right? What else are you supposed to sleep with at night?
Bekki: Jaden , will you go and play for a minute, please. I am going to talk to someone. Bekki is asking Jaden’s author, Marti Dumas, why she wrote a book.
Marti: I write stories about Jaden Toussaint, a character modelled on my own son when he was 5, because I couldn’t find books about kids who loved school and loved learning–let alone brown kids who loved school and learning–that were also fun.
I try to make the stories something that my own children and their friends enjoy and can relate to. Something where they can see their best selves reflected, including that your best self isn’t always perfect.
Bekki: Will you be writing more books?
Marti: Jaden Toussaint is the star of five chapter books so far, with a bonus book about the scientific method in the works for this summer. We’re kicking around ideas for a 6th book and, funnily enough, the main idea right now involves a babysitter! 🙂
Bekki: That’s super. My babysitters love me! [This is not completely true!] It has been splendid talking to you, Jaden. Can we be friends?
Jaden: Definitely! Do you play toranpu?
End of Interview – Playtime!
First things first – let’s have a Cool Kid Brain Dance Party!!
Let’s do the Monkey, Paint the Fence, cool wave, warrior, ninja on tiptoe, robot, crane, mantis. Listen to Jaden’s cousin rapping. Do what she suggests!!!
Do you like dressing up as book characters on World Book Day? This cool dude dressed up as Jaden from The Ladek Invasion. There are many ways to dress as Jaden.