Hometown Author Helps Children Connect


Making Traditions: A New Children’s Book Highlights How We Connect With Each Other and the World

Author Karen Good Marable is no stranger to Houston. She was born here, and grew up in Prairie View. It’s one of the reasons she’s excited to come back to Houston for an appearance at Blue Willow Bookshop on April 6, promoting her first children’s book, Yaya and the Sea.


“I remember coming to Willowbrook Mall or art house theatres deep in the heart of Houston,” she says. “So it’s a city that’s always been part of me.”


Something else that is a big part of Marable’s life is creating rituals. The story of Yaya is based in a real event. She was living in New York City, working as a magazine writer, and she and some girlfriends decided to visit the ocean on the first day of spring. They saw their visit as casting off old habits and celebrating a rebirth of sorts, a hopefulness for what lay ahead. One of them brought along her daughter, Yaya.


“When I was heading back uptown on the subway, I wrote about our ritual, and I said I should write about this but through the eyes of the little girl. I was interested in what she might be seeing when she was watching us.”


The result is seen in the pages of Marable’s story, brightly illustrated by Tonya Engel. In the story, Yaya’s mother wakes her up one day, and the two take a trip on the subway to the ocean. There, they meet Yaya’s mom’s friends, “the aunties,” and each offers something to the ocean in both gratitude and hope.


“I thought all this was interesting because as a mom now, I think a lot about what I am teaching my daughter in terms of spirituality,” Marable says. “We go to a Christian church. I also talk to her about ancestors, about how we honor the people who came before us, about how we honor nature. Yaya looks at all those things.”


Marable says she hopes her daughter learns about the power of intentions through this story, which is something she wants others to see as well. She’ll discuss those things and greet fans, when she comes to Blue Willow. Her discussion and book signing begins at 9:30 a.m.

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