Inspiring children’s book series ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS’

I was lucky enough to speak with Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara about her inspiring and beautifully crafted children’s book series ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS‘.

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Little People, Big Dreams - Amelia Earhart
Little People, Big Dreams – Amelia Earhart By Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

I came across the works of Maria one lazy Sunday in St Kilda when the family meandered into our local bookstore. My girls had disappeared amongst the shelves of books and when I found them they were nestled snuggly in a corner, one had a copy of the ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS‘ series Amelia Earhart and the other a copy of Frida Kahlo.

I picked up ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS Marie Curie’ written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara. The books were beautifully illustrated and the perfect size for little hands. The stories distilled the enormous challenges that these incredible women faced in pursuit of their passions – flight, art, and science respectively in times where women were bound by societal expectation and gender roles to basically be good housewives!

Little People, Big Dreams - Frida Kahlo
Little People, Big Dreams – Frida Kahlo

The books are simple and powerful as they tell the stories of women who overcame significant obstacles to fulfil their calling. The blurb reads “Discover the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.”

Inspirational. In short, I am a fan and very pleased my girls had the good sense to pick up these books! I was so impressed with the series that I reached out to Maria and she kindly agreed to be interviewed by email. I hope you enjoy Maria’s honesty and creativity as much as I do.

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Inspiring children's book series 'Little People, BIG DREAMS'
Little People, Big Dreams – Dian Fossey

The Interview

Maria, the books in the ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS’ series honour and focus on women following their dreams. So in that line of thought, I’d love to know how have you followed your dream to become an Author ~ what has your journey to date looked like?

When I was little I loved reading. Every night, my parents would come to my room, give me a good night kiss, took whatever book I was Reading out of my hands and turned off the light. Then I’d open the drawer, take a flashlight out and keep reading under the sheets till my eyes hurt, like a lot of kids do.

Of course, I dreamt of writing. I had lots of notebooks full of poems and weird teen thoughts. For years I wanted to be a journalist but, somehow, I ended up working as a creative director in an advertising agency. A job I enjoyed very much, but in the end, only a job. So I continued writing poetry and short stories for myself and, fortunately, I managed to publish my first book, by myself, of course. And when my twin nieces were about to be born, I started working on the idea of Little People BIG DREAMS. I wanted this series to be my welcome gift for them to the world.

Afterwards, everything has been quite intuitive: I changed the big advertising agency for a nice cafeteria, a park or my sofa at home and kept writing.

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Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara
In December 2018, Maria had the privilege of meeting Jane Goodall.

What lessons have you learned along the way that you would like to share?

“If there is a doubt, there is no doubt” It’s a mantra a friend of mine repeats all the time. But it works for any occasion! Follow your intuition, do it if you feel you’ve to do it, and don’t if you don’t feel like it. Suddenly life gets so much easier…

If you were to go back in time say 5 or 10 years what advice would you give to yourself knowing what you know now?

“Go to Dirk -the tall funny guy hid inside that tiny office- and ask him out.” He’s been my boyfriend, best friend, and lover for two years now, but it took us eight years to realize we’re made one for the other. The other great advice would have been: “get pregnant and have a baby.” I miss being a mum sometimes, I guess that’s why I write children books.

In a fast-paced world when busy with work and family it can be easy to neglect or forget how to be creative. How do you protect, grow and nurture your own creativity?

I believe in the creativity of the little things: cook, draw, sew, read, play an instrument, a game, take weird pictures, write a cute note an leave it under someone’s pillow… There’s no need to be an artist to have a memorable life, being creative is more than enough. So stay curious, have fun and be alive while you’re alive.

There is a joke that says: “He died at twenty but was buried at eighty.” Just don’t ever be like that. Out of all the people you have researched for your books, whose life story has had the most impact on you and why?

Surely Anne Frank’s story, one of the new titles I’m working on. I read her diary when I was a teenager, it really touched me then and still does twenty years later. I’ve been reviewing her diary these last weeks and finding words is complicated when there are so much horror and so much nonsense in a Little girl’s life. Especially when you know there’s another child about to open the book you write and start reading that story.

Where to from here, what is next?

Luckily the list of amazing women is endless and right now I’m working on a few new titles all at once: Jane Austen, Georgia O’Keefe, Mother Theresa, Harriet Tubman, Simone de Beauvoir

Besides that, I’m working on an animated adaptation of the series for TV and I just published in Spanish “El Cuadro”(The Master Piece) a book about a beautiful painting hanging on a wall’s museum.

Last but not least any Australian women made it onto the list for an upcoming book (Some suggestions grabbed off the Australian currency $100 Dame Nellie Melba, $20 Mary Reibey, $5 Caroline Chisholm….)

Not yet… but I find Dame Nellie Melba’s story amazing and I would love to write about her!

A great big thank you so much for your time Maria and for the wonderful books you publish.

Follow Maria on Instagram or Facebook

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You can purchase these beautiful ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS books on Booktopia:

• Coco Chanel
• Ada Lovelace
• Dolly Parton
• Harriet Tubman
• Zaha Hadid
• Bruce Lee
• Bob Dylan
• Greta Thunberg
• Jane Goodall
• Alan Turing
• Billie Jean King
• Louise Bourgeois
• Amelia Earhart
• David Attenborough
• Ella Fitzgerald

Disclosure: the Booktopia links provided in this blog are affiliate links. I will be paid a commission if you use this link to make a purchase.

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