Before she put the plot of “Konnichiwa and Hello” into print, Tammy Robertson witnessed such stories of acceptance firsthand as a classroom teacher.
The Fort Wayne author had an especially close look at the children depicted in the book. Her own second-grade daughter befriended a student who moved here from Japan. In her publicity materials, Robertson writes, “Everyday activities, fun at school and celebrations demonstrate how Valerie and Tomoka share their hearts with each other.”
“Konnichiwa” is “hello” in Japanese, Robertson said. A section of the book translates Japanese words into English. Another section has instructions on the Japanese art of origami, which also is part of the story.
“I actually wrote the story 17 years ago and I submitted it many, many times and got many, many rejections. I was at a busy time in my life when my daughters were driving and dating and I was teaching, and I just put it in a file box,” she said. After retiring, she picked up the book again and chose Hawaii Way Publishing. The 40-page hardcover book is available for $19.99 on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. Robertson sees the book as the first in a Celebrate Diversity series.
“I was a schoolteacher for 30 years so I’ve always been around children and loved children,” Robertson said. “I’ve always taught in the inner city both in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.”
It’s all about reaching out to people who might seem different. “We learn about each other’s cultures and accept each other just how we are,”she said. “We learn that we have a lot in common and we’re pretty much the same. It doesn’t matter what our skin color is, or where we’re from, what our religion is.”
Her second book will be released soon. “It is titled ‘She’s Just Like Me,’ and it is about a little black girl and a little white girl,” Robertson said. She hopes her books will combat bullying and encourage compassion.
“Just believe that every person in the world started the same way,” she said. “We didn’t choose where we were born or when we were born or anything. Every person matters. I believe that young children really don’t see color and they don’t see differences until someone points it out to them. So my hope is that through these books the children will learn about a different culture and they’ll also learn to reach out to other people and not be afraid.
“We want our children to reach out and be in a better world than we’re in. My hope is to make a difference.”
Robertson taught Grades 5-K in the Fort Wayne Community Schools for more than 20 years, including at Bloomingdale Elementary, Levan Scott Academy, Washington Center Elementary and Price Elementary.
Robertson has signed books at the West Central Home and Garden Tour, at the Monogram Shoppe & More in Covington Plaza, teds market on Coldwater Road, a Glenbrook Square pop-up market, Northcrest Elementary and for an Indiana State Reading Association conference.
She and her husband, Robb, live in the Dupont area of Fort Wayne. Robertson has two daughters, a stepdaughter, a stepson and eight grandchildren. Read more about her family and the book at tammyrobertsonauthor.com.