By Erin Frankel and Paula Heaphy
This interview was originally published on The Weird Series Blog on May 3, 2015. When Free Spirit author Erin Frankel and illustrator Paula Heaphy decided to write Nobody!, they called on fourth grader Ludwig, who loves to draw, for help.
When Thomas is bullied by Kyle in Nobody!, he wonders if there is something wrong with him:
What if Kyle is right? What if nobody is like me? What if I am different?
But an observation leads him to wonder:
But aren’t we all different in some way? Isn’t that what makes things interesting?
The answer, Thomas, is YES! Our differences make us interesting. We all have something interesting and unique to offer the world. Think about the things that you enjoy doing that make you an interesting person. Maybe you have a hobby that you love? Maybe you have a great sense of humor? Maybe you have traveled to interesting places and met other interesting people? Maybe you write poetry? Maybe you like to cook? Maybe you can speak several languages? There are so many things that make you interesting.
Now think about how you would feel if someone bullied you about those things. When Thomas was being bullied in Nobody!, he didn’t feel like an interesting person—he just felt sad and worried all the time. Fortunately, he had people who were willing to stand up for him and that made a big difference. I think the people who stood up for Thomas are interesting! Think about it . . . they did something different. They didn’t just stand by while someone was being bullied. They encouraged Thomas to keep doing the things that he enjoyed and they spent time doing those things together with Thomas.
How about you? What makes you interesting?
We want to hear from you, our kid readers, about all the wonderful things that make YOU unique! Send us a hand-written letter by June 15 to:
That’s So Interesting Contest, c/o Free Spirit Publishing, 217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
Be sure to include your name, age, address, and email address where you can be reached.
Once all the letters are in, we will randomly select five letter writers to feature on our blog—and to make things even more interesting—we will give away five complimentary autographed copies of Nobody!
While we wait for your letters, we’ll start by introducing you to some of the interesting kids who helped create Nobody!
First up in our blog series is an interview of Ludwig Bryngelsson. He attends fourth grade on the other side of the globe in Malmö, Sweden. Aside from speaking both Swedish and English, Ludwig is a very talented artist. He was a great help to Paula while illustrating Nobody! Thomas, the main character, is a fourth-grade boy who loves to draw. Having never been a boy and being much older than a fourth grader, Paula needed a little guidance on how boys his age draw. Ludwig always jumped to the challenge whenever Paula needed help. He drew his vision of a bully, drew all of the inspiration for the bugs and doodles, and even whipped out a few self-portraits. All of this helped Paula leap off and do Thomas’s drawings in her own hand. Ludwig was a true professional and inspiration throughout the process. We can’t wait to see where he is in twenty years!
Paula: If you could be a sound, what would it be?
Ludwig: I would be “boom” like something exploding.
Paula: What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
Ludwig: The funniest thing that ever happened to me was when I was 7 or 8. I was trying to tell my mom that I had a loose tooth while she was helping me brush my teeth, and my loose tooth flew out of my mouth and across the bathroom floor.
Paula: What do you think your life will be like in the future?
Ludwig: In the future I want to make music and I haven’t figured out what I want to study when I get older.
Paula: Who is your best friend and why?
Ludwig: My best friend is Rasmus. He is nice and we have known each other since we were in preschool. He is probably the first friend that I ever made.
Paula: What’s the coolest thing you saw someone do today?
Ludwig: My dance teacher, Artan, dancing like Michael Jackson. He is really good!
Paula: How would you change the world if you could?
Ludwig: I would make people stop fighting and having wars.
Paula: What do you think makes you an interesting person?
Ludwig: Well, I have a good imagination and my parents come from different places. We live in Sweden. My mom comes from the United States but her parents are Cuban. My dad is Swedish and we speak both Swedish and English at home.
Paula: Who is the most interesting person you know? What makes that person interesting?
Ludwig: My dance teacher Artan. He is a great dancer and he owns real Michael Jackson stuff like a jacket that Michael Jackson used to wear.
Paula: Your artwork is really amazing! What do you like about making art?
Ludwig: It’s fun to do and to take your time, and when it’s done it feels pretty cool.
Paula: We heard you do some volunteering at your school. We’d love to hear more about it!
Ludwig: If I see people that are alone in the schoolyard then I can help them find someone to play with. Or if I see someone that’s starting a fight I’ll tell a teacher or some grown-up to go stop the fight. Almost like a good and nice spy. It’s called kamratstödjare in Swedish, which means Friends Helper.
Paula: That’s so interesting! We really enjoyed reading about you, Ludwig. Pretty cool stuff!
Readers: Check The Weird Series Blog in a couple of weeks for our next interview, and get those letters in the mail!
Erin Frankel has a master’s degree in English education and is passionate about parenting, teaching, and writing. She taught ESL in Madrid, Spain, before moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her family. Erin knows firsthand what it feels like to be bullied, and she hopes her stories will help children stay true to who they are and help put an end to bullying. She and her longtime friend and illustrator Paula Heaphy believe in the power of kindness and are grateful to be able to spread that message through their work. In her free time, you’ll find Erin hiking in the woods with her family and doggie, Bella, or getting some words down on paper wherever and whenever she can.
Paula Heaphy is a print and pattern designer in the fashion industry. She’s an explorer of all artistic mediums from glassblowing to shoemaking, but her biggest love is drawing. She jumped at the chance to illustrate her friend Erin’s stories, having been bullied herself as a child. As the characters came to life on paper, Paula felt her path in life suddenly shift into focus. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she hopes to use her creativity to light up the hearts of children for years to come.
Free Spirit books by Erin and Paula:
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