For this month’s blog, we interviewed the Pappafotis children, our author’s four children. If you recall from a previous blog, these stories began as bedtime stories that our author told to her children when they were little. All four, Nick, Megan, Christina, and Mike, are adults now. And they had a lot to share!
1. What Little Honey story do you remember from your childhood? Was it your favorite? Why or why not?
The Rock Story and the cherry pit in the nose story (not yet committed to posterity) because they were action packed and weird, respectively. My favorite ones, though, are The Baseball Story and The Beach Story because they are encouraging and funny respectively.
I remember all the Little Honey stories - even ones that haven't been published yet (and some that never will be)! I do not have a favorite because these ARE my favorite stories from childhood. Stories we didn't like were simply not told again. The Little Honey stories were requested over and over, night after night. I loved hearing about Mom's childhood, imagining when she was a kid and the people we were familiar with as younger versions of themselves; acting as a mom instead of a grandma or as a sibling instead of an aunt/uncle. I also felt connected with the people that weren't around or that we didn't see everyday.
It’s impossible for me to pick just one favorite so I’ll go with the most memorable which is The Icing Story. As a kid I loved hearing my mom describe how good that icing was and how much she loved icing because I also love(d) icing. However, it probably inspired my own icing story as a kid when I licked all the icing from the cinnamon rolls before my brother woke up and have some. I can distinctly remember thinking “this is okay because mommy did it”.
The Little Honey story that I remember the most is the story about the rock incident. Little Honey was playing with the neighborhood kids and they were throwing rocks at her, and one of them hit her in the head that caused an injury. I always remember this one because it actually helped me not to bully other kids in school, or any other place/situation. In fact, it helped me stand up for kids OR adults who are being bullied. So, never will I throw rocks at kids (just kidding).
2. How do you feel the Little Honey stories have changed now that they are written, illustrated, and published?
Well, they were never called the little honey stories when I was a kid; they were mommy's stories. These were not characters, they were actual people that I knew and loved. So each one was personal in a way that is hard to replicate for me in a book.
Since these stories were told so many times, it didn't shock me to read a slightly altered version as the final product. Adding the illustrations though, made me feel like I was experiencing the stories for the first time! I had everything pictured in my head, from my mind, as a child. To see someone else's interpretation was amazing and a little surreal.
My mom and I just spoke recently about how the stories feel a bit different being written down. To state the obvious, there is definitely a difference from someone telling you a story from memory versus reading one from a book. Especially when it’s my mom as the storyteller. The books are very straightforward stories where when my mom would tell them she would take detours and add details. We could also interact with them by asking questions and my mom would be sure to add those details. Also there weren’t lessons at the end of the stories that probably had to be added given the example from above!
The biggest change would be the obvious; that you were able to transform real life stories from your childhood into these fantastic children books. I wouldn't say the content has changed much (which is the most important), but the names and illustrations have, which is just the natural progression of any short story.
3. Is there anything else you wish to share about the Little Honey stories?
What I loved most about my mom's stories was that even at the end, when she had to leave and I had to go to sleep, I could replay the stories in my head, I could hear her voice, and it was like she was still there. And that made the night a little less dark.
I could talk about the Little Honey Stories all day. Just today, our PreK teacher read The Beach Story and a little girl in the class said, "Hey, I have that book at my house!" I love that. I love sharing a bit of my childhood by sharing a bit of my mother's childhood and having that be part of someone else's childhood.
The little honey stories are just so special. They connect you to a person who is one of a kind. As a kid I never thought much about why I loved hearing these stories I just knew I loved them and my mom would keep telling them as long as we asked. Looking back I think it was because it made me feel connected to my mom. My mom is such an incredible woman so I’m so happy to see that so many others will get to connect with her (including my children and eventually their children).
I would like to see some of the books begin with how the stories came about and even mention that these were told to your children. That's something that I will always remember.