Author: Morenike Euba Oyenusi
Genre: Children’s Chapter Books
Ronke’s beautifully diverse international stories will transport you to a soothing world of adventure, joy and fun #paradiserestored. #childrensbooks #diversityTweet
Interview by Jenny Fulton
Morenike Euba Oyenusi is a Nigerian-American lawyer and author with a background in international travel that weaves its way into her stories. Though she mainly writes realistic children’s fiction and poetry, she has also written inspirational non-fiction. In addition to the elementary chapter book she published, Morenike is currently working on a graphic book written in free verse and a fantasy picture book.
Oyenusi’s book, Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight, is a children’s realistic fiction story with fantastical elements interspersed throughout. Set in 1970 Nigeria, it follows the life of Nigerian-American Ronke as she navigates her beautiful and diverse world.
“What inspired you to write this book?”
“I wanted to portray the fantastic childhood I had, remind others of the simple joys of childhood, dispel the disinformation and prejudice about life in African countries, and emphasize common bonds between children all over the world.”
As she wrote this story, Morenike pulled from her experiences of growing up in Nigeria and traveling to various countries with her family.
“There are elements of my childhood in the stories. I also integrated aspects of my motherhood experiences bringing up my three lovely children. I was able to develop Ronke’s character and stories by recollecting and reimagining my experiences as a child and putting flesh on those memories through observation of my children’s play, conversations, relationships and friendships.”
Writing a book can be simultaneously empowering and humbling. Such was the case with Oyenusi.
“Writing Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight and observing my characters and stories come to life was a very powerful, liberating, and empowering experience for me,” Morenike shared. “The realization that I have been given the ability to create whole new worlds brings me to my knees in worship of God who endowed me with my gifts and talents.”
Some of the themes throughout Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight include the simplicity of childhood, the value of relationships, and the power of the imagination.
“Ronke grows up without television and without electronic gadgets,” elaborated Morenike. “She spends a great deal of time playing outside or making up indoor games. Life is simple, but she and her friends pack so much fun and meaning into outdoor and indoor play. Another theme is the value of friendships and family. Linked to the friendship and simplicity themes is the power of one’s imagination. You will find that our lead character, Ronke, and her friends have big imaginations and are able to derive so much fun and adventure from the simple things of life.”
“What do you hope readers come away with after reading your book?”
Morenike’s love and joy flowed out upon the page as she answered. “I hope the book will encourage people to slow down and savor the present. Life moves fast, and children grow up so quickly. Often it doesn’t seem like that when you are a child. You think time moves slowly. I observe my children always wanting to be in a rush to get to the next experience. But children, and adults, should slow down and enjoy each moment. Enjoy each moment that God has given you. Take the time to truly experience each second. You will look back at those memories and they will help you when you are going through hard times. It’s especially important for children to focus on the ‘here and now’ of their childhood in these turbulent times.
“I also hope the book will reinforce the value of family and friendships. Ronke has friends from all over the world and loves to travel. I hope people will look beyond their immediate surroundings and community and realize that the world has a lot to offer. I hope it will give them a longing to travel and explore other cultures, to be more open-minded, to experience new things. I hope readers will come away with the desire to make friends from other races, cultures, and backgrounds. I hope the book will underscore that everyone has a story to tell and that every story is valuable. I also hope it will encourage people to be more adventurous with their reading.”
Book Blurb for Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight
Chasing Butterflies in the Sunlight is a riveting and humorous book of stories for ages five-100.
It is beautifully illustrated by Emanuela Ntamack, a Romanian artist.
It describes the joys and innocence of childhood experienced by privileged Nigerian-American Ronke when she was growing up in a beautiful, culturally and racially diverse world on a university campus in Nigeria. The stories span her life from the age of five until she turns thirteen. They tell about her adventures growing up on campus as well as her travels in Nigeria and overseas.