Author: Christina Myers
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
On the surface, The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake is a sweet story for picky eaters and young readers, but take a closer look, and you will find a timely story about a preconceived notion being challenged and overcome before it’s too late.Tweet
Challenging Preconceived Notions
Interview by Jenny Fulton
Christina Myers is a woman of many talents. With a background in voice-over work and acting, she is currently a lifestyle blogger for www.humbleandbold.com, a screenwriter, and a speaker.
“Having a background in those areas helped me to better understand storytelling,” Christina shared.
In June of this year, she added Published Children’s Picture Book Author to her repertoire and is currently pitching a screenplay set right before WWII in Nuremberg, Germany.
“I find that I’m drawn to that era,” she said.
The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake was inspired by her father-in-law’s stories and is set just before the war ended.
“My father-in-law, an avid reader of WWII books, often talked about how his father taught him to read and helped him try new things, like tasting a bite of cheesecake. Just like in the book, he would share this sweet tale from his childhood with his grandchildren. The story kept pulling at my heartstrings, and I knew others would also find it encouraging. He generously gave me permission to write it down and to add my own comical twist at the end.”
In addition to pulling from her father-in-law’s experiences, Christina was also inspired by the challenges she’d faced (and continues to face) in her own life.
“The child in me could definitely relate to this story. When I was in elementary school, I couldn’t understand the concept of putting cheese in cake and how that could possibly taste good. I mean, cheese was for sandwiches, not cake, or at least that’s what I thought until I tried it. Plus, the story reminded me of what its like to be challenged by someone who you know really cares about you and is trustworthy. Stepping out of my comfort zone to venture into writing also helped me understand Roger’s dilemma in tasting a piece of cheesecake. It’s scary to try new things sometimes, but it can be so worth it. There were many times this book almost didn’t get published and to finally see it distributed and on bookshelves has taught me to press on through every challenge I face, because the reward of completing a lifelong goal is beyond words.”
Everyone’s story is unique. The “how it happened” road to publication for The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake was a long one that took fourteen years.
“When I first wrote the manuscript in 2006, I shared it with the young lady who was my craft assistant. She had special needs and a savant like quality whenever she intently focused non-stop on illustrating. I shared the story to encourage her to try new things, such as using the copier and ordering food at a local burger chain by herself. Tasks like that weren’t easy for her, but she beamed every time she overcame a challenge, no matter how small. She gifted me the illustrations, and they were true to the time-period. She even put lots of redheads in the pictures, which is probably more that you would ever see in one place.”
With such wonderful illustrations in place to fit the manuscript, it would appear the book was ready for publication. But this was not the case. Due to Christina’s concern about diversity, The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake sat on a coffee table, in a bound version, as a gift for her father-in-law.
“It tugged at my heart for a number of years to get it published. However, I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure how people I cared about would feel when they saw pictures of a Southern restaurant scene with white only patrons set in the 1940s, especially with the racial tensions our country still faces. Being raised in the Birmingham notch of the Bible Belt with German heritage, from the time I was young I often thought about the injustices of racism and antisemitism, the counterfeit church’s role in fueling the hate, and the authentic church’s role in miraculous healing. How do you tell a story set during a period-of-time in our nation’s past that is painful for many, especially when you want everyone to feel welcomed at the table? After praying about this, I felt God showing me that the cheesecake was about so much more than just cheesecake. It truly was about a perceived notion being challenged and overcome before it’s too late.”
“What are some of the themes that can be found in the book?” I asked.
“At first, I thought this story would simply be great for picky eaters, but then I realized there are so many more themes woven throughout it. Several key points stand out to me now. One is that many times we form opinions about God, other people, places, and things because we’ve been exposed to other people’s opinions about it or we have only very minimal surface familiarity, but we’ve never fully experienced it for ourselves. Secondly, it gives a glimpse of the importance of family and the necessary role of a father and grandfather in a child’s life. Thirdly, even though global events are concerning to all of us adults, children still have their own inner battles, and we need to be there to help them.”
“What do you hope readers come away with after reading your book?”
“I hope both children and parents will feel encouraged to try new things and overcome challenges. I hope they’ll think about any preconceived notions they may have and seek to get out of their comfort zones so they can have amazing experiences. I also hope young boys will see the impact they can have as fathers and grandfathers if they choose to build a family one day.”
The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake inspires picky eaters and young readers, ages 4-9, to try new things. It also encourages conversation with older family members and friends about foods they didn’t like in childhood (or thought they didn’t like) and what happened when they actually tasted the food.
Book Blurb for The Little Boy Who Wouldn’t Eat Cheesecake
While World War II is changing the world in major ways, a young boy named Roger finds himself in a different kind of fight—a battle within himself—as he tries to muster up the courage to sample a bite of cheesecake. Yes, that’s right, cheesecake. You see, Roger can’t understand how cheese, regularly eaten in his favorite grilled sandwiches, could possibly taste good in cake. He is quite disturbed that others not only find this oddity acceptable but also say it’s delicious.