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Super Satya Saves the Day

Raakhee Mirchandani

Raakhee Mirchandani is an award-winning writer and editor. She is also a relentless pediatric cancer crusader. Her work has appeared in Elle, Glamour, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, New York Post, Redbook and HuffPo. Previously a columnist at the NY Post and a Managing Editor at the New York Daily News, Raakhee is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Moneyish, published by Dow Jones.
Super Satya Saves the Day is Raakhee's first book and is inspired by her own fiery four-year-old daughter Satya.

Congrats on writing this punchy fun story! You are no stranger to creative writing since you have written for so many magazines and media outlets. What  inspired you to write Super Satya Saves the Day, a picture book for children?

Thank you! Writing is what I do and the only job I ever wanted. But writing for kids was more fun than anything I've ever done before. My daughter Satya and I love bookstores and we're so lucky to live a few blocks away from our favorite one, Little City Books in Hoboken. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time there poking around for new titles and revisiting some favorites. But after four years of buying children's books - Satya is almost five - it struck me how few books existed that featured little brown girls having big adventure. And once that thought hit, well, it was all I could think about.
So that's how Super Satya Saves the Day came to be. I wrote it for Satya as a gift, and she loved it and would ask me to read it to her over and over again. And I'm so excited, we found a supportive and collaborative home for this story at Bharat Babies. 

We’ve heard that your own daughter Satya is a hero in her own right. Can you tell us a little bit about her fight?

I think we're all heroes, kids and the adults who are trying to raise them with love, confidence, tolerance and hope! And that's the spirit of Super Satya, that we all have the potential to be really super simply by being who we are and helping some friends along the way. Satya's spirit is strong, I knew that when she was diagnosed with cancer as an infant and declared cancer free before her first birthday. That whole experience changed the lens in which I saw the world. And it showed me the true heroes that live amongst us everyday, the kids, adults and families who are battling illness.
Super Satya is dedicated to all the children fighting childhood cancer because I have truly never seen anyone stronger than a little kid going through chemo. They inspire me, move me and make me want to fight super hard to make sure we're heading towards a world where childhood cancer is a thing of the past. 

In the story, while Satya is upset about not having her cape - this issue opens her up to different perspectives which lead her to discoveries and finding the super hero in her. All throughout the book, there is a lovely sense of community. Was this your starting point for the book?

I'm so glad that came through for you! Community is critical to us, whether it's our amazing Hoboken community where we live, our pediatric cancer community or our vibrant South Asian community. To be honest, community is the starting point for everything for us, this book, our day, our life.  

How did you meet the Bharat Babies team? Can you tell us how the book developed from start to finish?

I first met the Bharat Babies team when I included one of their books - Padmini is Powerful - in an Elle column I wrote about feminist books for toddlers. It was basically love at first write - I loved the book, they loved my Super Satya manuscript and we're just getting started together.
The Bharat Babies ladies are amazing partners and this book was an absolute delight to work on. Also, big shoutout to Tim Palin, the fabulous illustrator who brought Super Satya to life. Plus, we have a really amusing group text that gives me life on annoying days!

What were some of your favorite books growing up?

I hope you have all day because books are kind of my thing! But for the sake of time, I'll give you an unranked Top 10 list: 
1) Blubber, Deenie, Are you there God, it's me, Margaret. I felt like Judy Blume had a window in to my soul and I still kind of do. 
2) Every single Ramona book by Beverly Clearly. Ramona is one of the greatest characters ever written. She's lovable and annoying, endearing and hyserical. Those books are still some of my most treasured. 
3) Corduroy by Dan Freeman. Corduroy always had a special place in my heart and was the first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant. He's also become one of Satya's favorites as well. It's just a really darling story about friendship that touched me deeply as a child. Plus, Lisa is a character of color and while I didn't realize it at the time, there's no doubt that's one of the reasons she really resonated with me as well. 
4) Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. The notebook, the sandwiches, her aspirations to be a writer. I am Harriet. (In fact, I need someone to make me a shirt with a cover of that book that simply says: I am Harriet.)
5) Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene. Nancy was so independent, incredibly smart and a total feminist. She always felt like total #lifegoals to me. 
6) In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. How could you not instantly love this story? I still remember reading it in 5th grade for the first time and just devouring the whole thing, way before the chapters were assigned. (I now give it to all the kids in my life; it's that special.) It's just the best story about immigration, baseball and personal victories and I frequently re-read it. 
7) Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. My parents bought me this book when we visited Hiroshima and I remember reading it on the Bullet Train back to Tokyo. I haven't read it since - it was incredibly emotional considering it's based on a true story and about a girl who was a toddler during the WWII bombing and developed leukemia as a result as a pre-teen. But the story stuck me with all these years and I still have my copy, tucked away on my bookshelf. 
8) Amar Chitra Katha comics from India. My dad used to visit India multiple times a year for work and would bring back suitcases full of these comics. I used to adore them, particularly the ones about Hindu mythology and legendary figures in Indian history. Fun fact: I read the one about Sadhu T. L. Vaswani and immediately became a vegetarian after that. I still have the tattered copy on my desk as a reminder of the power of literature. 
9) Tinkle comics from India. I used to beg my maasi to send them to me from Bombay and she would indulge me. I guess I loved them because they were about Indians, the characters had Indian names and they felt familiar in a way that book at the library just couldn't. Plus, they were hilarious!
10) The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin. I was so in to this series about a cool entrepreneurial girl gang. I read them all and loved them all. 

What’s next? Do you have other books on the horizon?

I do! And I promise to tell you guys when things are official. We need lots more stories about little kids of color and I plan to keep writing them.

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