Author Danielle Joseph Visits PJ Kennedy School

Children’s book author, Danielle Joseph, visited the Patrick J. Kennedy School on April 4 to read selections from two of her works, discuss her career as a writer, and autograph teen fiction novels that she presented to the fifth and sixth grade.

Joseph read “I Want to Ride the Tap Tap” (2020) to lower elementary classes. The picture book tells the story of a young boy, Claude, and his wish to cruise in a colorfully embellished bus in Haiti.

Danielle Joseph speaking to Kimberly Anaya Santos, Valeria
Mejia Herrera, and Randy Hillegass.

“My husband, Delleperche, is from Haiti, so I wanted to showcase a positive story about Haiti. We have three children and have traveled to Haiti quite a bit,” Joseph said. “The tap tap bus is one of the main modes of transportation in Haiti. They’re privately-owned and decorated by artists. People take pride in them because they’re moving works of art.”

Joseph also read excerpts from her 2021 chapter book, “Sydney F. Frankel’s Summer Mix-Up,” about a 6th grade student, Sydney, and her hope for a fun summer before the arrival of her new sibling. Forced to enroll in a class at a local community center in Miami, Florida, Sydney and her best friend, Maggie, devise a plan to switch places so that they can enjoy the courses they really wish to attend.

As a writing activity 5th and 6th grade students were assigned to create another character for Sydney to meet. Joseph stressed the importance of grammar and punctuation.

“One reason I like to write is because it’s an excuse to use my imagination. When I write, I get to explore new places,” explained Joseph, who wrote her first book, “Mommy, Can I Go to the Zoo,” in first grade. “My books are about music, art, going for your dreams, and speaking up for yourself and others.”

Joseph also presented a trailer from a Disney Channel movie that was based on her book, “Shrinking Violet.” “Radio Rebel,” as Disney renamed the title, is about a shy girl, played by Debby Ryan, who becomes a mysterious disk jockey for her high school radio station.

“You must believe in yourself. That’s how things happen,” declared Joseph, who described her visit to the film set in Vancouver, Canada.

Joseph is the eldest of five siblings, and uses her family as inspiration for her writing. She explained that her books are influenced by songs she has listened to, conversations overheard in cafes, news headlines, books, and movies.

“Being a good writer means being a good listener,” Joseph noted. “No matter what you do in life, writing is a good skill to have.”

Joseph studied creative writing at Emerson College, and recognized Walter Dean Myers and Judy Blume as her literary heroes.

Joseph’s upcoming book, “Ruth First Never Backed Down,” a picture biography about the Jewish, South African freedom writer, Ruth First, who fought for social justice, will be published in November 2023.

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