Representation is Critical

T.M. Jackson Author Interview

Imani’s Undersea Adventure follows a young Black girl on a visit to the aquarium with her Grandfather where she learns about scuba diving and her ancestry. What was the inspiration for your story?

As a Black female master scuba diver and avid shark lover I thought it was important to tell this story. My father and uncles never learned how to swim well because they were raised during Jim Crow and did not have access to a colored pool. Additionally, my sister drowned in front of our siblings because they didn’t know how to swim either. These experiences are important because it displays a historical and socioeconomical analysis of why many Black people still cannot swim.

Not being able to swim negates the possibility of pursuing professions in the marine sciences and enjoying our aquatic world. I wanted to display Black children’s curiosity and amusement learning about sharks, the ocean, and scuba diving.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Darwin Marfil?

Darwin is great, this is my second book with him. We speak frequently about the intention of the characters and their emotional build up in the story. He truly has a gift of being to convey my manuscript graphically with little to no conceptual editing.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to show how magnificent sharks are. Many people are petrified of them but will happily go camping where bears and wolves are. Sharks are critical for the ocean’s ecosystem and should be respected and protected.

Additionally, I wanted to display Black women succeeding in marine recreation and science, expose marine sciences to kids, and teach Black history at the same time.

Representation is critical. It is important for them to see future possibilities through someone who looks like them.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on two books for release this winter. One will be about the grief process and the other will be the start of my career day series.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Discover an ocean of Black History with Imani!

Imani doesn’t like sharks.

They have big mouths, filled with big teeth, perfect for eating small children like her.

But when Grandpapa takes Imani to the aquarium, she learns about marine biologists and scuba divers – clever people who study and swim with sharks!

As Imani discovers the treasures of the deep, she realizes that the ocean is not always a scary place.

And it turns out the seabed holds other secrets too…

This fun educational read is filled with pioneering African Americans who are sure to inspire the next generation of marine biologists from all over the world.

Imani’s story allows parents and caregivers to have important conversations with young readers about difficult aspects of history in a child-friendly, age-appropriate context.

Posted on February 22, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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