(Thursday, June 19th, 2008)

Justin & Graham

-- Download Justin & Graham as PDF --


Page 15 is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping inner city kids discover their voices through reading and creative writing. It’s also a foundation that my best friend Julia has dreamed about doing since we ran laps around Lake Silver for high-school soccer practice. Nearly fifteen years later, she has made the foundation become a reality.

The Page 15 kick-off is a five-week camp that starts this summer at the Urban Think! Bookstore in Thorton Park. Five groups of kids will meet for one week at the bookstore, for a total of five weeks, to write their first children’s book. They also get the chance to design the cover of their book as told to a professional illustrator, experience a reading of a children’s book by the author himself and cooperate with a musician in writing a class song. When the camp started with its first group, a brilliant but wild bunch of kindergartners, I was there to help Julia corral the young writer’s.

The highlight for me was interviewing each child for their Author’s Bio found on the back of each writer’s book. The interviews were only meant to be short, but when a couple of the kids started talking I just couldn’t stop. And so I pressed on with more questions until they were ready to end the interview, which wasn’t long. Below are interviews from Justin and Graham, two very talented young men. I can only hope you enjoy the interviews as much as I enjoyed conducting them.

Justin’s Interview

Jana: Do you know what this is called?
Justin: No.

It’s a recorder. Do you know what it does?

It’s going to record our voices. OK?
OK. And then you’re going to put it onto paper at the end.

You got it. How old are you?

Where are you from?

How long have you lived in Orlando?
100 hours

What do you like about living in Orlando?
I like my X-Box and my PSP game.

What do you not like about Orlando?
Somebody ruined my perfect life.

Somebody ruined your perfect life?
Yeah, that’s right.

How did someone ruin your perfect life?
Because I always tell them something to do … but they don’t do what I do.

Oh, you mean they won’t do what you tell them?

Got it. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would go to talk to Mommy; she can take me to the game store.

Have you ever been to Disney?
Yes, I did.

What did you think about it?
It was so good. I went on the Peter Pan ride and then I screamed like this, “Kapoo-whoo kapoo-whoo.” I did.

What is the first thing you think about when you wake up?
I just scream and then I run. And then I push Courtney, and then I lock her up under my pillow. She says, ‘Boy, I’m gonna slap you in the face.’ And she does.

Who is Courtney?
My girlfriend. She always keep on slapping me in the face all day.

Are you in school right now?

Are you in school or are you in camp?
[Laughs] I’m in camp.

Do you like camp?

Are you going into the first grade next year?
This is not school. This is camp!

I know, but next year are you going into the first grade?
I don’t know.

OK, well what do you think school will be like next year?
I am not going to school. I want to stay here all day, OK? I don’t want to leave here because I like this. And I like what you do.

Well OK, and thank-you. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?
Hmm. I want to be [pauses] spider-man.

How are you going to go about becoming Spider-man?
I’m going to climb up the walls and I’m gonna spin my web. Then, I’m gonna fly up and catch a bird. Then I’m gonna fly down and give the bird to Mommy. And then I’m going to get the bird a cage.

Do you know who the president of the United States is?
Yes … president Daddy. My Daddy is president.

Who is your hero?
Courtney because she always wants to throw me into the pillows.

Courtney? That’s your girlfriend, right?
Yeah, I know. That’s all … that’s all the question’s I got.

You mean answers? Well, can I ask one more question?

How about three more questions?
No, I like one.

Name three things you’d like to do this summer.
I’d like to get a cake, and then I’d like to put the cake in … that is not my question [laughs]. I am just kidding. I’d like to have nice stuff, and I’d like to do good, and I’d like for everybody to do what ever I say.

Graham’s Interview

Jana: Do you remember what this device is called?
Graham: A phone?

No, it looks like a phone. What is it?
I don’t know.

It’s called a recorder. Do you know what it is going to do for us?
Call somebody?

No, it’s going to record our voices. So go ahead and say your full name into the recorder.
[Pauses] I don’t have a full name.

OK, then just say your regular name.

And how old are you Graham?
5 ½

Where are you from?
Orlando, Fl

How long have you lived in Orlando?
For 100 million days.

What do you like best about living in Orlando?
I like my new baby sister … baby Sarah.

What do you not like about Orlando?
That we had to move to a different house and I still miss the old house.

If you could go anywhere in the entire world, where would you go?
I would go back to the time of the dinosaurs and fight the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

What is the first thing that you think about when you wake up in the morning?
The first thing that I think about when I wake up is checking on my pet tadpole.

Does the tadpole have a name?
Uh hmm, his name is Taddy.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

Are you in school right now?

Are you in camp?

What do you like about camp?
I like making books for my mommy and daddy.

Are you starting kindergarten this year?
[He shakes his head yes.]

What do you think kindergarten will be like?
I think it’ll be, like, a lot of homework and you will go on a field trip to the zoo.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A fisherman. And then when I’m finished being a fisherman, I’ll be a horse rider … and then a zookeeper.

How are you going to go about becoming a fisherman?
I’m going to catch a lot of fish—maybe even a saw-fish.

Do you know who the president of the United States is?
The person that … I don’t know.

Well do you know what the president might do?
He might tell people to do good things.

Who is your hero?

Do you have a hero?
Um, no … wait, I do have a hero. It’s the girl that was wearing a white shirt yesterday; she helped me not throw up.

Miss Julia?

Why were you going to throw up?
Because I went too fast on that blue thing that goes around and around. [He is referring to the blue spin bucket at the playground in Lake Eola Park.]

Name three things you are going to do this summer.
I am gonna go to Montana for my birthday. Two, I am gonna go to Maine. And three, I’m gonna go fishing with Cole.

What is your favorite food?
Chicken nuggets and French fries … I’m thirsty.

To learn how you can donate or become a part of Page 15, please visit www.page15.org.

* Interview date: June 11, 2008

Posted Thursday, June 19th, 2008 in Orlando Interviews , RandomTags:
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