Title of Book: One More Candle
Time length to read: 4-6 min
Age recommend: 4 and up
Author: Merry Susiarjo
Illustrator: Emmeline Pidgen
Publisher: Twelve Elves Books
Best place to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository (Click words for direct link)
Price: Amazon: $9.01 (Hardcover) $6.01 (Paperback)
Have you ever wanted something that belonged to your older sibling? Or possibly wanted to be like an older sibling? In today’s book, that is what a little girl named Nola can relate to. One More Candle, by Merry Susiarjo, is about a young girl named Nola and how on every birthday she wants a party just like her big sister Betty and also wants the same candles as Betty has on her cake. Her family tries to explain to her that because she is younger than Betty, she will always have one less candle on her cake. Not satisfied with that answer, Nola goes off asking the sun, the moon, and even fireflies if they will provide an extra candle light on her cake, with still no luck. On her next birthday however, Nola tries to come to terms that Betty will have more candles than her, and will always be a year older than her. As Nola finishes opening her presents, she gets a special present from her sister Betty, who gives her an extra candle to put on her birthday cake. Looks like when Nola thought no one would understand her, the one person that did was her big sister Betty.
I loved this book! I can relate to it easily because I have only one sister, who is older than me as well, and I remember wanting to have everything that she did. This book shows children the bond that siblings have, and it also relates a little bit to sibling rivalry, and shows children that you may not have everything that your siblings may have, but you will always have them to be there for you, and what an important gift that is itself. The storyline was excellent, and went along with the illustrations great. The illustrations, done by Emmeline Pidgen, were very simple but color detailed and pictured the plot perfectly.
So if you are looking for a great book on birthdays, family and bonding, then I would highly recommend this book. It might just become their favorite picture book tradition on their birthday!
I was able to interview the fabulous author, Merry Susiarjo! Check out her interview below.
Author Interview with Merry Susiarjo
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Indonesia and grew up there until the ago of fifteen. Since then I have moved and travelled to different countries and been exposed to various, enriching cultures. I lived in the United States for 4 years and obtained a BA degree in French literature from Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH), with magna cum laude. Now I live in France and have been here for almost 11 years. I obtained a MA degree in French literature and linguistics, specializing in Early Language Acquisition, from Universite de Bretagne Occidentale, with mention tres bien. I’m an avid reader and have enjoyed reading since young. I spend most of my time reading and feel happiest when doing this.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m a wife and mother of three children (6 years, 3 years and 6 months) and I hold these titles very seriously.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I have always wanted to write a picture book story that underlines the gap that persistently exists between adult and child perspectives. This gap often goes unnoticed by parents and its concept is certainly beyond children’s immature capacity of comprehension. And yet this gap stands as a major communication barrier between parents and young children. I wanted to find a story that illustrates this indiscernible gap in a simple way, in a way that may be easily understood by the two parties. So I came up with One More Candle. The idea of a child yearning to have one more candle on her birthday cake to rival her sister just suddenly struck my head when I was baking a birthday cake for my daughter (who has an older brother). Besides, I have always longed for lovely picture books that deal with sibling relationship. I think this matter has not been sufficiently approached in today’s picture books. Our society has moved even closer to individualism and I feel that establishing strong sibling connections has become more crucial than ever. All these matters should be dealt in depth through picture books, which I regard as major parenting resources and as basic learning tool for our future readers.
How did you come up with the title?
I needed a title that crystallises the story and I think One More Candle does it well.
Where do you get your ideas?
I observe children and parents around me and add my own imaginations that often came back naturally to me from my childhood.
Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
One More Candle is mostly meant to be enjoyed by parents and children as an enriching literary experience rather than to convey a specific message. But through this book I certainly seek to underline the importance of strong family bondings as an essential element in childhood, and that parents should never underestimate the crucial role they play in their lives.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I think all the books I have read have influenced my life in one way or another. They have all helped to shape my personality and made me the way I am now. Among those that affected me most are perhaps, Crime and Punishment, the Rougon-Macquart series from Emile Zola, the Great Gatsby, Sophie’s Choice and most titles from Hemingway.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The best writers don’t write to convey a message, be it moral or otherwise. The best writers don’t write to show how much they know. They don’t write to produce something beautiful or worth reading. The best writers write for themselves, they stay honest with themselves, never pretend and enjoy writing for the sake of it.
Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?
Parents should read to their children. Read to them aloud and read to them often. Continue reading to them even when they have acquired the capacity of reading. The importance of being read in childhood is greater than we can think of.