Children’s book author Pascha Adamo enjoys sharing her message of childhood wonder and ethnic representation in the adventurous tales of “CeCe & Roxy.”
The first two books follow the intrepid CeCe, a biracial child, and her pit bull Roxy as they embark on childhood adventures in making friends and learning what it is like to be home alone.
“All kids are just kids, and they want to play, be seen and loved,” said Auburn resident Adamo. “I think the more we can share stories like this where it’s a person of color, it helps to build empathy, and it helps to bridge that gap for a person of white descent who has never interacted with a child of color. When they see children of color in public, it’s not a weird thing.”
As a parent and a former teacher, Adamo was excited for the opportunity to visit the Auburn Public Library to sing, dance and participate in an interactive story time earlier this month.
“She’s been coming to the library, and we connected,” engagement and outreach librarian Ashley Brown said. “To have more books out there with biracial characters, kids see themselves represented. Literature mirrors our lives, or it can be a window into someone’s life. For our people who are not biracial to have that window, it helps us grow empathy.”
‘Out of necessity’
Searching for stories depicting the real-life activities of biracial children, Adamo said she had difficulty acquiring a relatable children’s book for her kids to enjoy, and she felt a spiritual guidance encouraging her to become a writer.
“It was completely out of necessity,” Adamo said. “We asked for children’s books for our first born’s baby shower and got about 75 books, which was amazing, but they were all male lead characters or animals. When you see my husband, who’s African American and I’m Mediterranean, eastern European, that didn’t represent our family.”
According to Adamo, most stories portrayed other ethnicities overcoming cultural injustices or inequalities. So she began drafting ideas for a biracial character pursuing the common activities and interests of a child.
“There was a point I felt like God said, ‘Here’s the vision,’” Adamo said. “‘You are thinking one book, and I’m thinking more. You can share this with so many other kids - not only in your neighborhood but in the country and around the world - who need this kind of character, need to be seen and feel like they can relate to somebody that looks like them.’”
Adamo said this vision spurned the creation of four “CeCe and Roxy” stories, and the teacher-turned-author has witnessed the beneficial results of her work.
“It happens at every event,” Adamo said. “We’ve had people go and say, 'That looks like my daughter, granddaughter, niece or neighbor,' and there’s that instant connection. Because it’s not a story about slavery, there’s a fun element to it. They can relate to that girl. (They say), 'That girl looks like someone I know,' so there’s familiarity.”
The third and fourth additions to the “CeCe & Roxy” series are illustrated and under revision, Adamo said.
“Book three is going to be a trip to the beach, but there’s going to be an underlining about safety, making sure you are hydrated and have sunscreen,” Adamo said. “It’s not going to be blatant. It’s going to be there in the undercurrent. Then, the fourth one is about hiking, but again, there’s an underlying theme about being respectful to nature and how you prepare for a trip like that.”
Among the 15 stories stored on her computer, Adamo said her fifth installment is swimming in her mind as she writes notes and sketches pictures to prepare for the completion of the manuscript.
“I have thought about so many different ones where there is going to be an introduction of a baby boy in the family, and what it is like to welcome a new sibling...and what it is like for a pet,” Adamo said. “I take it from my life and my mom’s life. I mean I have two toddlers. The stories are endless.”
Adamo is seeking the collaboration of a new illustrator to complete the upcoming additions, and residents interested in illustrating CeCe and Roxy's new tales can contact her at (304) 212-8880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s important to be aware that children of color need to be represented in every aspect, not just books,” Adamo said. “If you’ve always grown up with friends and a white family, you may not think of these things. It’s important for children of color to be recognized, not marginalized or stereotyped. I’m hoping, by being here, we can just share our story and let kids be kids. Let kids see each other for who they are.”