A Letter from Katrina Moore, Author of ONE HUG
A TEACHER’S JOURNEY TO WRITING PICTURE BOOKS
I’ve been teaching elementary education for ten years—grades one through five, and over 250 students to date. It’s been the best, happiest, and hardest work of my life. At the core of my teaching philosophy is the belief that each child holds great potential, and that it is my job to help them recognize and realize that potential. I believe that this starts with helping the child to feel confident in who they are and helping them to truly feel seen.
How do we do that?
I’ve always connected to children—their curiosity, their understanding of the importance of play, and especially, their honesty. Because of this, I truly love teaching and learning with my students—talking with them, and listening to them. They say the funniest, darnedest, and sometimes, most heartbreaking things.
Sometimes, it’s what they don’t say that echoes the loudest.
That was the case for one of my fourth graders seven years ago. We were writing narratives, and I read aloud poignant picture books by Tomie de Paola, Jacqueline Woodson, and Patricia Polacco. I saw students connect to the stories and be inspired by them. They were fueled to write their own stories!
Except, as you may have guessed, for this student.
After each book, he just stared at me. His eyes were big. His notebook was blank. When I asked him why he hadn’t written anything, he simply sighed. Finally, he whispered, “None of these people are like me. I came from Mexico. My name’s not really Johnny, like everyone thinks, it’s José.”
It was then that I first realized that the story he needed, the one where he would see himself reflected in the pages of a book, was missing.
So I told him a story, or rather, the story, of my mother’s immigration to the United States of America from China when she was seven. She, too, chose a new name to match her new beginning. She, too, felt alone, at first.
There it was. The best moment in a teacher’s career. You know it, right?
That moment when you see the spark.
I saw José’s spark—and it sparked something in me, too. Suddenly, I realized I wanted to connect with children through writing stories for them, about them.
Stories about me, too. The little me who also never saw herself accurately represented in the media.
I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always loved picture books, but I needed to seriously focus on my craft. I joined a professional writing organization and went to my first conference in 2015. Four years later, my debut picture book, One Hug, publishes. My mission as an author is to create books that all children will hug for ages—books that are culturally inclusive, providing a mirror and a window. But also, ones that are child centered—playful, nurturing of curiosities, fun, and full of joy—just as childhood should be.
At its heart, One Hug is about one hug connecting us in ways that sometimes words cannot. Upon first read, this book is a fun, rhythmic, easy read aloud that’s perfect for bedtime—celebrating summer nights, simple pleasures, and the people we love. And yet, when we dig deeper, asking, “Who are these characters? What are they doing? Why are they celebrating?” children, as astute as they are, will notice a cross-cultural family dinner, an immigrant family reunion, and three generations of a family.
I hope it’s a book that you’ll share with the children and students in your life—all the Josés who need some love, and anyone who loves to hug!
Hugs and Love,
Told in joyful rhymes and bright illustrations, One Hug celebrates the many ways we embrace our loved ones.
As a family wakes up to begin preparing for the arrival of their immigrant relatives, the littlest girl begins to feel left out and nervous. But an encouraging brother and the welcoming arms of her grandma help end the day with a belly full of food, jars full of fireflies, and all in cozy, snuggly slumber.
From the dazzling talents of debut author Katrina Moore and illustrator Julia Woolf comes a fun, cuddly story that reminds readers how one simple hug can go a long, happy way. A perfect read-aloud to share in classrooms or at bedtime!
Soft and strong, warm and snug,
What’s your favorite way to hug?
Mom will SQUEEZE you like a bear;
Dad will WHOOSH you through the air!
About the Author
Katrina Moore writes and teaches in New Jersey. She’s been a teacher for almost a decade and has lived in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. Connect with her on twitter @kmoorebooks or at www.katrinamoorebooks.com.