Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Thanks for joining us for another segment of our interview series! For this interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Nadine Haruni, the author of the MCA award-winning book, Freeda the Frog and The Two Mommas Next Door. Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door is the 5th book in the Gold Mom’s Choice Award® winning Freeda the Frog™ children’s book series. Freeda the Frog and The Two Mommas Next Door is not only geared for gay children or children of gay parents, but it is designed to help create an environment of inclusivity & to help all kids understand that families are not ‘one size fits all.’ Keep reading to find out more about Nadine Haruni and her journey to becoming a writer!
MCA: Hi Nadine! Congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award for Freeda the Frog and The Two Mommas Next Door! It is always amazing when we come across a book that is not only entertaining but can also help children through situations they may be struggling with simply because they may feel they are “different.” Can we start this interview off by getting to know a little background about yourself?
Nadine: I am the author of the Freeda the Frog children’s book series, which addresses various real-life “stuff,” celebrates the different types of family situations, and helps kids know that they’re not alone. I frequently do book events, interviews, and podcasts throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I’ve gone through a divorce myself and am now the mother of five kids in a blended family.
MCA: What was your path to becoming a writer like? What inspired you?
Nadine: I was always creative growing up and would write short stories, poems, etc. When I was growing up and knew that ultimately I wanted to write children’s books. When my mom (Freeda) was going through her divorce, that motivated me to write the first book of the series, “Freeda the Frog gets a Divorce.” From there, as me and my family went through various situations, that inspired the subsequent books in the series, as they were loosely based upon my own life experiences. I felt that if I as a parent was struggling with how to open up conversations with my kids about particular ‘real-life stuff’ or issues, that many other parents were likely struggling with figuring this out as well.
That’s how the books in the series were each ‘born’ so to speak, and they are meant to be a tool for parents, teachers, school psychologists, friends, to open up a conversation with all kids–both kids who are going through that particular topic, or to make other kids more socially aware on what’s going on around them. We want to help encourage kids to open up about their feelings, to not feel ‘different’ (or make others feel different if their family does not look like everyone else’s)- and encourage a culture of acceptance.
The series follows along with a frog family as they get divorced, fall in love, get remarried and become part of a blended family, move to a new home & change schools, lose a pet fish, and now in this latest book- meet the gay moms on the lily pad next door. The tagline on my website, www.freedathefrog.com, best sums up the goal for the series, to be ‘helping families of all species…one tadpole at a time.’
MCA: It’s always amazing when a parent can use a book as a tool to start a hard conversation. What was your inspiration for writing Freeda the Frog and The Two Mommas Next Door?
Nadine: This book was inspired initially by the fact that moving to the suburbs was a little eye-opening to me- in that there were not a lot of gay families here (as opposed to in NYC, where I lived previously). I felt it was important for kids to realize that parents come in all ‘shapes & sizes’ so to speak- it is not always a mom and a dad-sometimes it’s two moms, sometimes it’s two dads, sometimes it’s a single parent (and so on and so on).
MCA: How does Freeda the Frog and The Two Mommas Next Door help children understand that families are not ‘one size fits all’? What are some of the other lessons taught in this story?
Nadine: Freeda the Frog™ and the Two Mommas Next Door helps kids understand that families come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. The tadpoles are surprised and filled with questions when they first meet their new neighbors, Jessica and her parents, Morgan and Irene. Why does Jessica have two mommas? Does not having a mommy and daddy like most kids make her feel weird?
But their momma, Freeda, encourages Frannie, Frank, and Jack get to know Jessica’s two mommas. Before long, the tadpoles discover that Morgan and Irene are a lot like other mommas they know. Through spending time with Jessica and her mommas, the tadpoles realize that families can have two mommas or two daddies—because what really makes a family is love.
Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door is published to coincide with Gay Pride Month. But it isn’t a book just for children with same-sex parents or for kids in the LGBTQ+ community. The common thread of all the books is to not only be helpful to kids and families who can relate to these specific situations, but to help all kids recognize that no two families look the same, and encourage an environment of awareness, empathy, and inclusivity.
MCA: What has the response been like from the people who have gotten the chance to read Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door before its official release date?
Nadine: I’ve had many people read it and review it first-including a lot of gay friends, and they all loved it! I’ve had some of them write reviews (which are listed on the back cover, and inside the book as well)
MCA: I read that the book is being released in June, which coincides with Gay Pride month. Why was it important for you to have the book released in time for Pride month?
Nadine: It was important for me because that is a month to celebrate the many gay families (or just gay people in general)–and a big month of celebration for that community. We wanted to have our book timed to focus on that incredible time of pride, and how important that community is, which should not be overlooked.
MCA: If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Nadine: To understand that to be a parent, you do not have to be a couple or in a same-sex relationship-it is irrelevant…as love is all you need. Also- no two families look alike, and that that is a beautiful thing.
MCA: What can we expect next from the Gold Mom’s Choice Award-winning Freeda the Frog children’s book series?
Nadine: Many future books are coming! ;) Each book has its separate focus but picks up where the last one left off, and in the next book, we will focus on adoption. Future stories will include topics such as special needs’ kids, disabilities, a parent returning to work, and a new baby sibling.
You can learn more about Nadine Haruni and her award-winning book, Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door, by visiting her MCA Shop pages.