Interview with Michael Sandifer
Michael Sandifer is a 3rd-grade teacher in California and lives with his wife and two children. Being a teacher, he always wanted to write a children’s book with the characters he uses in his classroom.
A Paul Collins interview.
Tell us about your background. Who you are, where you are from?
I teach 3rd grade, and my wife is a teacher as well. We live a busy life of waking up at 5:00, getting the kids ready for school and out of the driveway by 6:15, working, picking the kids up, doing homework, dinner, reading books, and doing it all over again the next day. I like to surf and golf when I get the chance and go camping at the beach and the Eastern Sierras.
What prompted you to be an author and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Did a particular person, artist, or genre influence you?
Most importantly, Pablo Taco is a fun book to read. That’s what matters to the kids. There is the excitement of a villain (Billy Burrito) chasing Pablo Taco around throwing burrito bombs at him and his new friend Hamburger Dan.
Kids can then run around the house playing “burrito bombs” after the story. Now if a parent chooses to, Pablo Taco gives parents the opportunity to have a conversation with their child about a difficult topic, race relations. In the story, Hamburger Dan doesn’t want to play with Pablo because he is a taco.
If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would they, be and why?
I think many teachers have had that desire to write a children’s book. I have been writing the names of these characters on lined paper when taking notes with the kids just to get them to smile or laugh before the lesson for years. I couldn’t think of a theme or plot to put everything together until that scandal with the Los Angeles Clippers happened.
I listen to sports talk radio every day on my commute and for two weeks straight; it was racism, racism, racism. One day the lightbulb lit up, and I got the idea that my characters could be used to bring people together to fight back against all this racism talk. Ever since I wrote the book, it seemed like there has been a train wreck of race relations issues in our country. Maybe if enough kids read this book, the next generation won’t be as messed up as ours.
Tell us about your latest work, and what inspired you.
I think I could compare “Pablo Taco” to “Where the Wild Things Are.” Both books start out in the character’s “reality.” Then they use their imagination to think of something amazing.
They both have that exciting climax keeping the kids interested until the end. Finally, the stories both end back in the main character’s reality and everything is great leaving the reader feeling good about everything.
How can your readers contact you? Or buy your books? Or where can they sign up for a newsletter.
Thanks for taking the time for this interview. All the best!
Thank you so much for this opportunity and for spreading the message to the kids.