Monday, June 23, 2014

Author Mina Javaherbin
In Conversation

Mina Javaherbin
by Lupe Fernandez

Mina Javaherbin is author of GOAL! and Secret Message. Last May, I visited Mina at A Great Good Place for Books as she read from her latest picture book Soccer Star, illustrated by Renato Alarcao. No hardship or obstacle can keep Brazilian boy Paulo Marcelo Feliciano from playing the greatest game in his world - soccer.

Mina read from Soccer Star. The audience of adults and children followed along. She punctuated the action and pausing for emotional moments. Her passion conjures up the hardscrabble streets of Brazil, the salt-sea smell, the hot sand and the whoomp of the soccer ball. Though, Mina labored on this book for years, she ended reading with a choke in her voice, and a tear in her eye.

 There's not a lot of scoring in soccer. Does this reflect a "journey is more important than the destination" theme for you?
Soccer is a strategy game, it's like chess, really. It's not a contact sport and is pretty civilized compare to say, hockey, or the American football. It's an intense planning sport. I don't think in soccer journey is more important than the destination. I suppose the emphasis is on the fact that a well played journey will make it easier to achieve goals.

Soccer is popular all over the world. Why choose Brazil as the setting for Soccer Star?
Well this goes back to my book Goal! which had the soccer theme with a social justice angle and took place in South Africa, which hosted the last world cup games. I suppose I thought I'd do one about Brazil where the world cup takes place next, so Soccer Star was born while it did not shy away from displaying social justice issues of the children in Brazil.

Have you ever visited Brazil?
No, unfortunately I never have.

What was your working relationship with illustrator Renato Alarcao?
Ranato Alarcao is a name I first heard from my editor at Candlewick Press. We had no direct contact during the production of the book. As you know the manuscript is bought first and then the editor tries to find the best illustrator for the purchased written words. My wonderful editor found Mr. Alarcao. Of course there were suggestions from me as my editor kept me in the loop and asked my opinion during the art production of the book, but it is customary in the picture book world that the book's editor is the main liaison between the author and the illustrator. Renato and I connected on social media after the book's completion.

Your book Goal was about boys playing soccer in South Africa. Will there be a third book featuring the same sport? How about boys playing soccer in Iran?
I hope to write more soccer themed books and keep addressing social justice issues in them. One day I may also write about boys playing soccer in Iran.

How do you stay so awesome?
Funny you should ask since you and I actually met at "How To Stay Awesome Camp". As you very well know, we need to consciously surround ourselves with people who think we are awesome and that we think they are awesome as well. Life is too short and we are our own worst critics. So it's always better to stay awesome, like in that Lego movie!

The Management would like to thank Mina for granting this interview. 
For more Mina visit her website.

See our other October 2011 interview of Ms. Javaherbin. She discusses Secret Message and other awesome subjects.


  1. Congrats, Mina! Another winner! So great to read about your latest book.


  2. So glad you set one in Brazil. Looking forward to reading it.

  3. Inspiring interview! I especially enjoyed the last part about surrounding yourself with people who think you are awesome and in turn who you think awesome! Congratulations!

  4. Thank you Leigh, Susan, Donna. Hope you check out the book! Let me know what you think. And thank you Pen and Ink for writing about my book.

  5. We Love Soccer Star - in fact, our #WeNeedDiverseBooks made it a feature recommendation last week on the website. Thanks Mina and Lupe.

    1. You're welcome Miranda.
      Paper Goalie

  6. Terrific post and photos as well. Lots of fun; thanks for posting!

  7. So interesting! I want to read the book -- soccer does unite kids around the world. What a great theme! Thanks for the post.


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