You can not help but fall in love with The Real Life Adventures of Jo Jo Bean. The book Birthday Bubbles brings the excitement of a child’s birthday with a great lesson in the end. The music accompanied with this book/ cd combo is not only catchy but so fun to listen, sing-along and dance to. It has become a family favorite in our house and I know your kids will love to read it along with you, too!
The inspiration behind the Real Life Adventures of Jo Jo Bean came from her son Joseph aka “Jo Jo Bean”. Trace resides here on Long Island with her son Jo Jo and husband, Michael. I had the pleasure of getting to know Trace Wilkins Francis and asked her a few questions :
We know Jo Jo was your inspiration but why a book about his birthday?
Trace replied, “Every day is a birthday of someone special” (line from the lyrics). Everyone, from the young to the old can relate to this, so it’s the perfect topic for a book!! And we have a lot of fun with it too.”
How does Jo Jo feel about being the main character of your book? How is it for him to see a character mascot that looks like him?
Trace replied, “Initially, Jo Jo didn’t quite get it because he was still young at the time (4). But now that he’s a big boy of 6, he loves it! He loves helping out when we go out to various events. His friends and classmates think he’s a celebrity. I guess in ways, he is. LOL”
How did you come up with the other character mascots in the book? Why Twisty Tina? And why Worry Wendell? The characters add so much to the story and make the story come to life for the kids. I love it!
Trace replied, “The characters are a culmination of my son’s friends from pre-k and his first cousin. They were such a close knit group and have some personalities! I wanted to represent their personalities in these characters to make it more fun and realistic.”
The songs are incredible and so catchy. My girls love the book but are in love with the songs. Did you write the songs after writing the book?
Trace replied,“The songs were written by my wonderful husband, Michael “Deep” Francis after the books were completed. We wanted to make sure that the songs were catchy and something that everyone would hum along with.”
Here is a glimpse of the energy and excitement that happens when you go to a book reading with Trace Wilkins Francis. This is unedited footage taken at our LATCP in May event on May 22nd, 2016:
What is next for the Jo Jo Bean series? I know you spoke of a show… when can we expect other books?
Trace replied, “We are working on the illustrations for Delectable Vegetables, book 2 in the series. We are planning a Holiday Dance Party and Show at Barnes and Nobles in Bay Shore in November. Special guests will include all the characters and Santa Claus!! We are also talking to a couple of people about getting Jo Jo Bean and friends his own television show. My husband is working on a few things himself. He is a co-writer for a web/tv series – they are shooting the series this month, and are shopping it to a couple of the cable stations. He is the co-writer and director/producer for “John – The Real Story of John Henry”. Eric Hagans-Richardson of Buffalo Soldier Films had the idea for this script and wrote it a few years ago. I’m in the trailer as John Henry’s wife and my husband plays John Henry. They are in negotiations with an investor, so hopefully, you’ll see it on the big screen soon.The great thing about any other project we have is that we do it together as a family. He has my back and I have his. He writes my music and is my sounding board and hype man; I am his editor for his scripts and plays and his soft voice of reason. Our Jo Jo Bean helps at the events by handing out flyers, coloring pages, playing with the other children. I am truly blessed.”
The Real Life Adventures of Jo Jo Bean – Birthday Bubbles – is available at Book Revue in Huntington
and soon to be available at Barnes and Noble, Bay Shore.
For further information, please visit Trace Wilkins Francis website —>here