1. What was the genesis for this book?
I've had a love for St. Lucia ever since I moved to California in 1992 and was invited to participate in a St. Lucia festival hosted by my friends, Nektarios and Anna Burkett. When the Conciliar Press editorial board (on which I serve) decided they wanted more picture books about women saints, I knew I wanted to write one, and St. Lucia immediately came to mind.
2. Who are the children you had in mind, during the writing process?
First of all, I had in mind my daughter Elizabeth, who participated in the Burketts' (her godparents) festival from age 3 to age 14. My son John, who is always recruited to be a star boy, inspired the antics of Lucy's brothers in the book. Also, I was thinking of a girl in our parish who was named Lucy because her father loved St. Lucia and her festival so much. These children are all a little old for picture books now, but I imagined many other girls and boys who would be just as enthralled with St. Lucia's story as they were.
3. Why does this topic speak particularly to Orthodox children today?
I feel that children (and adults!) need a way into a relationship with a saint, other than simply reading her life and venerating her icon. If there is a fun and special traditional way to celebrate a particular saint, that provides a great introduction for the children to develop that relationship. St. Lucia's festival is one of the most colorful I know of, and Westerners can relate to it because it originated in the West. So to me, St. Lucia is a great bridge between West and East.
4. How can we encourage our children to be readers?
Nothing is more important than setting an example by reading to the children when they are little, even babies, and letting them see you read by yourself. Go to the library regularly--take your kids to story hour and select books for yourself. Don't limit your children, or yourself, to Orthodox books; there is a great wide world of literature that has so much to offer to us all.
If parents take genuine joy in reading, and if they are careful to select books that are not only edifying and uplifting, but beautiful in word and picture and a joy for a child to experience, it's almost certain that children will grow up loving to read.