Award-winning author and founder of Wishing Star Publishing, Alexandra Hoffman writes children's books to promote inclusion, kindness and understanding, and also visits schools to discuss this crucial mantra with pupils. Her most recent publication, Masterpiece, features an autistic character, and alongside some gorgeous illustrations, the story describes the way that our differences can be beautiful. She has been developing the concept of Global Masterpiece Day too. Although based in Canada, Alexandra's work can be bought and read globally, and with the messages she promotes, it is so important to have these shared everywhere!
Having become aware of her great work through the power of TikTok, I knew reaching out to Alexandra would make for a lovely interview, so read on to find out more for yourself.
Please may you tell us a bit about you and your job as an author - how did you get into the profession?
I am born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Along my journey, I became a teacher and have spent over 13 years in the classroom. Most of my years as a teacher have been spent teaching grades 2 and 3 [aged 7-9 years old]. During this time I have collected over 1,000 picture books and have really grasped an understanding of what makes a beautiful impactful story for children.
I have always been a writer and have published books for adults, but my dream has always been to write books for kids. Combining my love of writing, my experience working with children, and my love for high-quality stories for children, I have come to a place where I am currently exclusively writing for kids.
Why is creating inclusive books for children so important to you?
Over my years of teaching, I have worked with thousands of students. Every year, I typically teach a diverse group of children who all have different needs and different ways of seeing the world. The more people you meet, the more you realize that our differences are what truly make us each a masterpiece. Some of the greatest lessons I've ever learned about humanity are from kids who see the world a bit differently. I firmly believe that an inclusive world (in all areas of society) will make everyone's life better. I also believe that all kids should see themselves in the books they read. Children's picture books are becoming more inclusive; however, there is a lot of work still to be done. When I started writing picture books, I knew I wanted to release inclusive stories to help increase representation.
What are some of the things you are most proud of with this venture?
I am quite new as a picture book author, but I'm really proud of my journey so far. I have figured out the ins and outs of publishing books, founded a publishing company, won numerous awards, founded Global Masterpiece Day to celebrate neurodiverse children in classrooms around the world, and recently earned a highly coveted Kirkus Star. But, I think I might be most proud of the fact that Masterpiece has touched the lives of children and families in the neurodiverse community.
How do you balance being an elementary teacher, mom and author, and how have these different roles of your life impacted what you choose to write about in your books?
Honestly, lots of coffee! But, in all honesty, it can be really hard to balance all roles. I have an incredibly supportive partner and he helps make it easier to get everything done. I also burn the midnight oil far too often. Hopefully, with time, the balance will be a bit simpler. My role as a teacher has probably impacted what I write about the most. Many of the stories I have written are inspired by students I taught and experiences I've had in the classroom. My role as a new mom is impacting some of the stories I'm starting to plot. I'd love to release a book inspired by this new journey as a mother.
What motivated you to launch Global Masterpiece Day, and do you have any other plans to expand your work further like this?
I think there's still a lot of work to be done in classrooms around the world to celebrate neurodiverse children. Even with the best of intentions, we often try to put people in boxes. Many neurodiverse people live outside any box in the most beautiful way and I think this should be celebrated more. Global Masterpiece Day was born out of a desire to celebrate neurodiverse people and autistic thinkers. It is a day to celebrate our differences and share how our differences make each of us a true masterpiece.
How does it feel to be recognised and win awards for your books like Masterpiece, and what has been your favourite part of hearing the responses from these?
Honestly, it's incredibly humbling (and quite frankly, unexpected). When I started my journey as an author, my only hope was that I'd sell a few copies. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd receive any kind of recognition. At the same time, it's been fantastic motivation to encourage me to continue to write and publish. Publishing isn't for the faint of heart, especially as an indie-author, so any motivation helps. And, it's been a bit of validation on those days when I question myself. Every time a new positive review comes in, it's a special moment.
Who inspires you in your work or generally, and why?
My students inspire me and have been a big inspiration behind most of my stories. My partner inspires me every day. He's the one person in this world who lifts me up on days when I struggle with intrinsic inspiration. And, since becoming a mom, my son has become my biggest inspiration. As a parent, all I want is for him to grow up happy, healthy and well in a world that is accepting of all people. My love for him inspires me every single day.
Huge thanks to Alexandra for taking the time to answer these for us - it's been super lovely hearing from you. Keep doing your amazing work, and I wish you all the best for the future!
Masterpiece and her other books are available worldwide, so check out Alexandra's page here: