Book: If Your Babysitter is a Bruja (2022)
Author: Ana Siqueira
Illustrator: Irena Freitas
Genre: Picture Book
Opening Lines of the Book…
If it’s almost Halloween and you have a new babysitter … be wary. She might be a bruja! A witch!
BONUS INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR…
Q: Where did you get the idea for this book?
A: This story was based on a personal experience. I was not the babysitter or bruja, and I was not the girl. But I was the mother of a girl who decided I was a bruja, and not her mom, when I told her we couldn’t stay on the beach anymore. Of course, it lasted three blocks walking and carrying her to convince her I was her real Mami.
Q: Why did you write this in the second person?
I tried writing this story in the third and first person. I love writing in the first person. But something was not right. It was maybe too scary. Then, I read all the books by Elise Parsley. I love them. That’s when I tried writing it in the second person. This voice allowed me to transform this story into a fun story without being so scary.
Q: When you write, do you have illustrations in mind? How do they compare when you see the final art?
A: When I wrote, I imagined the illustrations would show the reality while the girl was imagining. For example, when she thinks she was being grabbed by her pants and thrown on a Twisted Torre, we would see the Bruja holding her hands and taking her to the playground slide. But the final art is so much better than my imagination. It is vivid and full of energy. The way Irena mixes her imagination with a dash of reality allows the readers to dive into her imagination.
Q: Can you tell me the story of how this book was sold?
A: I worked on this book during a class with Mira Reisberg from The Children’s Book Academy. She was sweet enough to give me a scholarship. At the end of this class, we could pitch a story to an agent’s and editors’ showcase. I got three likes, or golden nuggets, from three editors. I submitted first to one. And she submitted me some ideas for a Revise and Resubmit. But after I completed my revision, I had already gotten an agent: Andrea Walker. We didn’t submit it to the previous editor, because my agency was not working with this publisher because of some controversies, but we submitted it to Alyza Liu, who had requested my story during the showcase. And that’s how we sold it.
Q: How much work did you have to do with the editor once the book was sold?
A: Alyza Liu gave me amazing feedback: make the girl more active. At first, she was mostly reacting to Bruja’s actions. That dash of ingenuity from the girl added a lot of humor. Besides that, all the changes were minor and fast.
Q: What’s your favorite line from the book?
A: It’s so hard to choose. The rhythmic lyrical sentences in this story are so much fun. But I like the last line when she repeats the first line with a twist. But to prevent spoilers, I will have here my first line: If it’s almost Halloween and you have a new babysitter… be wary. She might be a bruja! A witch! If she zooms in on a broom, black sombrero on her head, cackling like a crow… ¡Corre! Run!
Q: Do you have a favorite illustration from the book?
A: I love them all, but I always laugh when I see Bruja’s expression spitting the magic potion. And I love the scene where the Bruja cast a sleeping spell that nobody can resist.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do with (or as) a babysitter?
A: Now that you asked me this question, I remember… I had a nanny who might have been a bruja. She was very explosive and one day she hit my little sister. I told on her and she got fired. So, maybe, who knows, this Bruja has been also the inspiration for my story.
Q: What’s your best advice for new writers?
A: Try different versions of all your stories. When the previous editor suggested me a big change for my Revise and Resubmit, I thought she was not right. But I tried, and… I loved it. So try. Sometimes you will not agree with a critique, but what if you try? Of course, don’t delete your old version. But even if you try it and you hate it, you will probably learn something new about your story, your style, or your character.
Q: Where can people find out more about you and your books?
A: Check my website and contact me with questions too. Website: https://anafiction.com/
Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher, and an award-winning Brazilian children’s author also published in the Foreign Language educational market. Her picture books include Bella’s Recipe for Success (Beaming Books, 2021), Abuela’s Super Capa (HarperCollins, 2023), Room in Mami’s Corazon (Harpercollins, 2024), and a few more books to be announced. Besides writing, Ana loves to read, teach, and play with her Cuban-Brazilian-American grandchildren. Twitter: @SraSiqueira1307
12 months to read 12 books recommended by 12 friends…
This picture book review is part of a monthly challenge I’ve set for myself. I’ve asked my friends on Twitter to recommend picture books they’ve enjoyed reading (published within the past 3 years). I will choose to feature one each month.
Note: The original 12 Challenge isn’t necessarily just for picture books. But I’ve set it up this way for my own challenge.