Today we welcome Melissa M. Williams, author of IGGY THE IGUANA. Oh, and we welcome Iggy, too, who seems to have a lot to say. (Take that insurance company lizard!)
IGGY THE IGUANA is the first book in the Iggy chapter book series for ages 7 to 11. The story focuses on the major themes of acceptance, friendship, and diversity as Iggy goes from a private "all-lizard" school to a public "all-animal" school.
Iggy soon accepts that just because other animals are different doesn't mean they can't be your friends. By the end of fourth grade, Iggy realizes that changing schools was the best move he ever made.
Who is Iggy? Let Him Tell You…
Well, before I became a cartoon character in the Iggy the Iguana series, I was a real, live three-foot green Iguana living in Houston, TX back in the 1990's.
I think the author liked to pretend I was human, because she used to dress me up in clothes, send me to school, and I even slept in her bed. Yes, I was basically human in her eyes, so eventually she turned me and my friends into cartoon characters.
In Iggy the Iguana, I get to experience most everything real kids my age do in elementary school. As I change to a new school, I show the kids that it's okay when life changes and you move to a new environment. I made all kinds of new animal friends—one of them, Liz the Lizard, even became my secret crush! Kids love when they can relate to the life of a lizard!
So, Iggy, what else do you like to do?
Definitely baseball! Ever since I was a little lizard my dad would play catch with me in the back yard after dinner. He is a professional marathon runner, so being healthy and active is a big deal in my family. I've been in Little League ever since I was five. My favorite pastime would definitely be the time my dad took me to Chicago to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field.
What do you want readers to learn?
Acceptance. I learned that just because I'm a reptile—or green—or not like the other animals at my new school doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me. We are all different, and our differences make us cool! I learned so much about other animals when I became friends with a box shell turtle (Surfer Dude), a silly cat, a bullfrog from the Bronx, and a mouse from Spain. Since I accept others who are not like me, I actually accept myself more, too!
What else do you want readers to know?
I'll let Snap Shell, my best turtle friend, take this one…
Well, dude, I want readers to understand that even if we go through difficult situations in our lives, it doesn't mean we can't learn from those experiences and become better animals. We all have a purpose in life, and later we can help others who may go through something difficult.
Iggy, share a favorite phrase in the book.
I like Snap Shell's comment, "I'm Land Only, Dude!"
When I asked Snap Shell, why he couldn't swim, Snap had to explain to me that not all turtles are swimmers. Snap's not a sea turtle and doesn't have webbed feet, I learned much to my surprise.
What is the lesson of the story?
First impressions are not always correct. Don't be too quick to judge others on the outside. We all have a story.
About the author:
Melissa M. Williams is an advocate for literacy and creativity in children. Her children’s chapter books were inspired by real life experiences with childhood pets she owned while growing up in Houston, Texas.
While finishing her Master’s degree in Professional Counseling, Melissa started substitute teaching in elementary schools to understand the daily life of her young audience.
She now enjoys speaking to students about her own journey as an author and the process of creative writing, while encouraging them to be creative thinkers and write their own stories.
Win Cool Iggy Stuff!
Win the newly released items in the Iggy Collection: Snap Shell the Turtle plush doll, Iggy collector's baseball cards, and the Read3Zero T-Shirt supporting the fight against illiteracy 30 minutes at a time.
** To win the Iggy collection, be the most active visitor during the tour. See tour schedule.