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Our Child Sunrise and Elder Sunset with Kim Rogers

Kim Rogers shares Just Like Grandma, a story about wanting, more than anything, to be just like the special elder in your life.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT:


[1:06] Introduction


Matthew: Welcome to the Children’s Book Podcast. I’m Matthew.


I am a teacher, a librarian, and a fan of kids. Today, we’re talking about grandparents and elders and the two-way relationship between kids and those from a different generation.


Helping me out on today’s episode is Jula.


Jules, at the time of recording, you have three grandmothers and two grandfathers. Can you tell me about them?


Julia: They’re Memaw and Gepaw, Grandad and Grandma, and Marmee. Um, they’re really nice to me and they really love me by, like, they say nice words to me.


Matthew: Do you do stuff together?


Julia: Yeah. Like, sometimes we play together. Like sometimes we play catch.


Matthew: Yeah? And you love them?


Julia: Yeah. I love that they’re really sweet to me.


Matthew: Our guest today is Kim Rogers.


Kim writes books, short stories, and poems for young readers. Her debut picture book, Just Like Grandma, was published by Heartdrum in 2023. She is an enrolled member of Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and is a member of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. Kim lives with her family on her tribe's ancestral homelands in Oklahoma.



[2:31] Book Summary


Just Like Grandma by Kim Rogers; illustrated by Julie Flett



In this lyrical picture book by Kim Rogers (Wichita), with illustrations by Boston Globe-Horn Book Honoree Julie Flett (Cree-Métis), Becca watches her grandma create, play, and dance--and she knows that she wants to be just like Grandma.


Becca loves spending time with Grandma. Every time Becca says, "Let me try," Grandma shows her how to make something beautiful.


Whether they are beading moccasins, dancing like the most beautiful butterflies, or practicing basketball together, Becca knows that, more than anything, she wants to be just like Grandma.


And as the two share their favorite activities, Becca discovers something surprising about Grandma.




[3:23] Meet Our Guest: Kim Rogers


Kim: Hi Matthew. Thank you so much for having me. Hi everyone. My name is Kim Rogers and I am the author of Just Like Grandma. It is illustrated by Julie Flett. It's published by a publisher called Heartdrum, Harper Collins.


And this is a lyrical picture book, which is written in a poetry form and it's a joyful picture book. This is a heartwarming story about a young girl who wants to be just like her grandmother.


[3:51] A Story To Help Native Kids Feel Seen


Matthew: Kim is right! Her book is definitely heartwarming. And I think, no matter if you have grandparents in your life, or if it just makes you think of the elders in your community, this is a story that makes us look outward to the relationships we have with the elders in our life and how we are giving in those relationships. And it’s a story that makes us look inward at how those relationships have shaped and are shaping us. And how we, in turn, are also shaping others through our relationships.


Kim was thinking a lot about who would one day read Just Like Grandma.


Kim: Well, when I was first thinking about this story, um, of course I go from my own experience when I was a child. And when I was a child, I never saw myself in a book. I never saw a Wichita girl like me in a book. I never really saw a Native child in a book.

So when I was thinking about writing Just Like Grandma, I was centering first a Wichita child. Second, I was centering a Native child. And third, I was centering everyone else.

I wanted to write a story about the beautiful relationship that grandchildren and grandparents have, specifically a granddaughter with her grandmother.



[5:12] A Story for Mamma May


Matthew: Kim had a specific person on her mind as she was writing this book.


Kim: Oh yes. So many. All of my grandmothers, I would say, but specifically my great-grandmother on my mother's side. She was such a fun and vibrant person, and so full of life. In fact, my mom wanted to be like her too.


We called her “a ray of sunshine” because that's the kind of personality she had. And also when she was older, and I'm talking like in her late seventies, almost in her eighties when she had lost her second husband. After that, she went out dancing at the Senior Citizen Community center in her town.


And so she was just so cool and so my mom and I were like, “Wow, when we're older…”. You know, you think of sometimes we think of older people as, they can't do anything. And that is so far off.


Our elders are so full of life and joy and experience and they keep doing things, you know, later and later in life. And so, like I said, my great-grandmother, her name was Mamma May and I still wanna be like her. And it was so special to get to, um, grow up knowing my great-grandmother.


A lot of us don't get to do that, right? And so that was a really special relationship, you know, to get to know her. And so I feel very blessed for that.



[6:40] It’s A Big Deal When We Get Together To Have a Meal Together


Matthew: Where do your memories lie when you think of your grandparents? Is there a location that comes to mind? A certain activity? An occasion or event, like a reunion?


For me, when I think of my grandfather, specifically, I remember the sounds and the smells of the engines he collected. I would travel with my Grampy to engine shows and he would invite me to sit on his lap and steer his tractor in the opening parade.


For Kim, the characters in Just Like Grandma and many of the scenes depicted are centered around food and are based on her actual family.


Kim: Well, first I wanna start out with the grandfather. So the grandfather was based on my own dad. And my own dad, he was the main cook in my family when I was growing up. And he still is. And so he showed his love to my family through cooking.


And so when we were to eat together, it was a community thing. I mean, so many of us, no matter, you know, what our family background is, if we're Native or non-Native, when we get together to have a meal, it's a big deal and it's how we show one another love and we fellowship together.


My dad taught me how to cook so many things, so he taught me how to cook frybread. He taught me how to cook fried chicken and beans and stuffing. I mean, I could name all these things and he's such a wonderful cook.


And so, you know, I can look at this book that I wrote and say, “I wanna be like my grandmothers, but I wanna be like my dad too, who's such a great cook”.

And like I said, showed his love to his family through cooking.


Matthew: Well… So, Kim, I think that that is what, to me, really struck me so strongly about this book is that it is just like grandma and we do talk about beautifully, you've written all these ways that Becca wants to be like grandma for the way that she dances, for the, the way that she creates art. And then beautifully, likewise, the way that grandma wants to be like Becca.


But you have kept grandpa so present in here. It just feels like a beautiful expression of love that it's, we, we absolutely have people in our lives that we want to be like, but that doesn't rule out the other people that are present and loving and caring for us and are, are important to us as well.


Kim: That’s right. It's our whole family. There's so many people in our family and our friends. And I mean even teachers or people in our life that have such, you know, give us such inspiration that we look up to, and adults can even look up to kids just like grandma looks up to Becca and wants to learn basketball.


Matthew: Yeah, I've heard things like that called “reverse mentorships”.


Kim: Ooh, I love that.


Matthew: And I've never forgotten that term. A friend, Kevin Carroll taught me that reverse mentorships when, when we older individuals are learning from. Younger folks when we turn it backward.


[9:40] The Role Kim’s Grandparents Played in Her Life


Matthew: Kim’s grandparents made a big impact in her life. You can see it in how she talks about them. But you can also see, I think, that she cannot help but bring them up, her memory of them and their love is so strong.


Kim: Of course this book is focused on grandmothers. It's also focused a little bit on a grandfather, too, because of what the grandfather does in this book by nourishing his family and showing his love.


But, you know, I think about my grandmothers, but I also do think about my grandfathers. And I have such a sweet story about my granddad. And he passed away, I guess it was back in 2010. And my mom and I went to his house to go through his stuff. My grandmother had passed away, I guess it was like five years earlier. So it was just him living there alone.


And I was going specifically through his books. You know, I love books. And I stumbled upon this one book. It's.. I don't know. It's about the Oklahoma City bombing, and so I opened it up. And inside I found a poem that I wrote in the fourth grade and a picture of Garfield, the cat that I drew in the fourth grade for his birthday. And I was so absolutely touched that he had kept those all these years later.


And I knew that my grandfathers cared about me, but I didn't know that this, my granddad, cared about me so much and about what I cared about, which was writing and drawing. I did not become an illustrator, but this was a glimpse into my future as an author.


And one thing about elders and my Wichita culture is we hold them in such high esteem, but, and I'm trying not to cry here telling you this story, but they also hold children in high esteem. And my grandfather held me in such high esteem, and so it's just so touching for me to think about.


And I know that my parents loved me, but they didn't keep any of my writing or anything like that. And so I've got boxes and boxes of my kid's stuff because I wanna be able to show them someday, “Look at all these things I kept of yours.”


And so for my grandfather to do that, I mean even thinking about it or talking about it with you right now, Matthew, I just feel so overwhelmed with emotion and joy.

It's just really hard to describe how wonderful that feels.



[12:16] We Notice the Sunrise and Honor the Sunset


Matthew: Julie Flett, renowned illustrator, created such moving art for Just Like Grandma. And I know that most of you listening have not yet seen this book. But I invited Kim to share an excerpt with you, and I think the passage she chose really takes you there.


Kim: So there is one thing in particular that I'm thinking about and I wanted to tell readers.


And if you're a reader and you're a kid and you think you wanna be a writer someday, the cool thing about being a writer is you don't have to sit down and just write continuously. You need to go out into the world and experience it.


And so I wanted to talk about one of the ideas that I got for Just Like Grandma. If you look at the cover, you'll notice that there's a sunset and I talk about the sun dipping below the tree line. It's a refrain that goes throughout the book. And so I wanna tell you how I got that idea and then I wanna read the first page to you.


So, um, when I would often drive home in the evening, sometimes, um, I would see the sun setting and I would. I made a note in my head that the sun dipped below the tree line amongst the evergreens, and honestly, seeing that image just took my breath away. I have a lot of personal stories about sunrises and sunsets, so they really mean a lot to me.


And then back right before the pandemic, before we went into lockdown, my husband surprised me with Goo Goo Dolls tickets. That's one of my most favorite bands. I love nineties grunge music. Huge for me. And so we up to the Tulsa Theater and we went to this “His Miracle Pill” tour, and there's this new song on the album that I had never heard. The only time I heard it was when Johnny Rzeznick actually stood on stage and sang it. And so this was the first time. And so this song is so beautiful. It just filled my soul with so much joy and happiness. But he talks about the sun sinking below the tide. And so that stuck in my head as well.


And so after I wrote the book, I realized where those lines came from and they were from those two experiences. Because when you're a writer, you go out into the world and you take all those experiences. Experiences that have happened to you and your mind sifts through them. And when you sit down to write those meaningful things come out on the page. And that's exactly what happened with Just Like Grandma.


So I will read you the first page and it says, “On the steps of the house at the end of the street, Becca watches grandma bead and bead buck, skin moccasins. More than anything, Becca wants to be just like grandma. Let me try. Becca says, grandma hands her thick thread and a thin needle together. They bead until the sun dips below the tree line and grandpa calls them in for corn soup.


Matthew: You know, it wasn't until you started talking, really calling attention to the sunrise and to sunsets, and I had noticed that line. And I love the poetry in your, in your story, but it's only now am I making the connection to life to Becca. Being, so to speak, at the beginning of life being young, and to her grandma and grandpa being older, that Becca's sort of in this sunrise time. And the grandma and grandpa are sort of in this sunset time, aren't they?


It's beautiful.


Kim: Wow, Matthew. I never even thought of that. A child is in the sunrise phase of their life, and an elder is in the sunset phase of their life. How beautiful.


Matthew: Aren’t they?


Kim: Wow. I’m blown away by that.



[16:13] A Message from Kim Rogers

Matthew: Wow. Kim and I were really sharing a moment together there. If I’m being honest with you, that moment in the interview felt like it was just Kim and me. Like we were in sync with the one another and with the world. I’m so glad that moment got recorded and that we could share it with you.


Listeners, I wish you many moments of connection and being in sync with family members or friends. I wish you memories made and moments cherished.


And, as I prepare to head back to my library full of children, I hope that you will cherish this special message from Kim Rogers.


Kim: Yes, I would like to tell them to find their joy. Find the beautiful things in life that you want to do, and go and do them. And you may just inspire someone like your mom or your dad, or your aunt or uncle, big brother, little sister. You just never know. Just go out there and do the things that you



[17:19] Closing


Matthew: The Children’s Book Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner.


Follow the show wherever podcasts are found, and leave us a rating or review when you do. That helps us out a whole lot because it helps the show get discovered by and recommended to new listeners.


Kim? Where can listeners find you?


Kim: You can find me on my website at kimrogerswriter.com, and you can also find me on Twitter at KimRogersWriter.


Matthew: Visit matthewcwinner.com for a full transcript of this episode plus some questions that you can use as you think about this episode.


You can also reach out and let me know about a special memory you have with a grandparent or elder. I would love to hear about that from you.


Write to me or send me a message at matthewmakespods@gmail.com. That’s M-A-T-T-H-E-W M-A-K-E-S P-O-D-S at gmail dot com.


Want a copy of Just Like Grandma? Jules, where should our listeners look?


Julia: Check your school or public library, your classroom, or, if you want to support independent bookstores, you can purchase a copy at Bookshop.org.


Matthew: I’ll have a link in the show notes.


Our podcast logo was created by Duke Stebbins (https://stebs.design/).


Our music is by Podington Bear.


Podcast hosting by Libsyn.


We are a proud member of Kids Listen, the best place to discover the best in kids podcasts. Learn more at kidslisten.org.


Anything else you want to share, Julia?


Julia: Have a beautiful day. And make sure to love yourself.


Matthew: Awww. Thank you.


Be well. And read on.




End Of Episode

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