As The American Dream of Braven Young races to its imaginative and inspiring conclusion, Braven begins looking for the one person that can help him...his dad.
Along the way, Braven visits iconic landmarks, meets famous historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington, and learns that with true freedom comes responsibility.
During this exciting and spirited tour of our nation’s capital, readers are introduced to Braven Young, a ten-year-old boy who just wants to build paper airplanes with his dad. But his dad is always busy working to “save America,” whatever that means.
While waiting up to see his dad, Braven falls asleep and dreams about having the time of his life in Washington, D.C. Finally, he is free to do whatever he wants with the National Mall as his playground! But, soon, things start spiraling out of control.
"My hope in writing this book is that young children and families can learn about and celebrate American values.
Our protagonist's name is a combo of all my boys' names (minus Quade because he wasn’t born yet!). Beauden, Rhett, Vance = Braven. The publisher disliked it at first, but I convinced them otherwise.
We tacked on "Young" as the last name because the name said together sounds like "brave" and "young", which was fitting for obvious reasons!
Braven's hair inspiration
Braven’s hair was inspired by the professional soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo’s haircut. (Fun fact: Before going to law school, Ryan played professional soccer for Kansas City and an international league.)
We had 30+ revisions of our main character’s "look." We perfected everything from his hair, his tie, his untied shoe, his tight skinny jeans, to the design of his long-sleeve shirt until we found the perfect embodiment of our protagonist.
I did a ton of research.
I am not a history buff like my husband. I had to dig around and learn about historic heroes and monuments and educate myself on historic documents and speeches.
The setting is based in Washington, D.C.
The only thing I knew about DC before we moved here in 2014 is that it is our nation's capital and home to the White House (plus a few very notable monuments.) We have since fallen in love with DC, and it only felt natural to write about the city we now call home.
The character of "dad"
...is based on Ryan’s real-life job! While he is not a congressman, he has worked for the United States his entire career. We had fun embellishing the nature of his job, along with the performative speech he gives at the end. Ryan often writes on behalf of the United States, so it was fun to include him in the writing process of this book.
The historical statues come alive
This magical plot twist was added at the last minute to help Braven understand what freedom means.
My favorite illustration was added at the last minute
As Braven walks up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial and finds the Gettysburg Address written on the wall, I wanted the reader to feel the impact these words have on the character, and how it might have felt to hear this speech when Lincoln originally spoke. It’s a pivotal point in the book and why I love this image the most!
No adults and total freedom? Yes, please!
Braven enters his dream smack dab in the middle of Washington, DC. The catch? There are no adults to be found! This theme was inspired by the plotline in Home Alone, which is my boys’ favorite movie.
My boys love Dog Man and action heroes, so we incorporated a bit of a comic book theme stylistically throughout.
If you loved this book as much as I love writing it…
5-Star Amazon Review
"The story is great and fun to read. The mix of vocabulary keeps it flowing and slightly challenging for kiddos to read themselves. The illustrations are well-thought-out and include details to place you into Braven’s world. This book is a must for teachers, families with a knack for history, families about to go on a trip to DC, and many more."
This book is fantastic for kids of any age.
5-Star Amazon Review
I am so excited for us to read this book again and again!
"If you want to give your kids a love of American history this book is where you should start!! Love the storyline about Braven helping his Dad with his speech about Freedom and having all the statues of legendary people in history come to life. It made me feel like it’s time to take a trip back to DC and introduce it all to my 3 boys! Of course, the message on freedom and pride in our country is a wonderful lesson for your kids. I am so excited for us to read this book again and again!"
5-Star Amazon Review
So powerful I shed a few tears while reading it!
"Hidden in this book is a powerful message for young readers, that freedom is not only about doing what you want but about doing what is right and protecting that for all. As a physician, mom to 3 young ones four and under, and first-generation American, I am so excited that this book is not only a fun, adventurous read, but exposes them to our country's history and the America that we should be most proud of. So powerful I shed a few tears while reading it!"
5-Star Amazon Review
What freedom is really about...
"This book introduces kids to monuments and landmarks in our nation's capital while highlighting the importance of patriotism. Brooke writes this perfectly so that young kids can understand the message of what freedom is really about while captivating their interest with the illustrations"
Q&A with Brooke.
My husband, Ryan. He has worked for the United States his entire career, and his love for this country has inspired our family in the best way possible. Our kids look up to him and what he does, and I wanted to capture that in a story.
Over the last few years, I have become somewhat disheartened by the lack of modern-day American stories available to kids. I want my kids to grow up with a positive message about our country, and a great way to expose them to that is through reading. The books I found were either historical non-fiction books that were too serious or books that consisted of certain topics that seemed off-base. This fueled my determination to write a book that I wanted to read, but couldn't find.
The book is about freedom. And how a child might comprehend the meaning of the word initially. But I developed the story so the child would learn experientially that freedom is so much more. The story then takes a little boy on a journey of self-discovery, so that he can learn the meaning... and save the day, of course!
I loved the book writing process. I am a creative person and love to write, as many people see by following my Instagram account. Writing a children's book was an ideal start to my book writing journey because I could be as imaginative as I wanted, while also ingraining strong values into the words and creating an uplifting message.
That said, the beginning of the writing process didn’t come as naturally as I thought it would.I knew what I wanted to write about but I had a hard time starting it. This is where my publisher came in and we were able to brainstorm the bones of the story. Once we got the bones, I couldn't stop writing. The story was a constant formatting of the messages I wanted to share, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
Yes! My boys are big into superheroes and Dog Man comics, so there is certainly a superhero and comic book element. In addition to that, one of my boys' favorite movies is Home Alone, and as I was envisioning the story, I kept imagining a little boy venturing into the city, but being able to experience a similar kind of ultimate freedom. Kind of like in Home Alone when Kevin McAllister gets to experience freedom being left at home without his parents. My boys loved the idea of being able to do whatever they wanted with no adults around, so I wanted to mimic that theme, while also teaching a valuable lesson (in true mom form).
Oh, gosh. I scoured through soooooooo many illustrators’ work on a website called MB Artists until I came across Juan Manuel Moreno. He is a true talent and has worked with Disney, Warner and Scholastic. He was a dream to work with. Any time I had an idea, he made it come to life tenfold. Any time I had small revisions, even the slightest adjustment to a facial expression, he made the change with ease.
Honestly? I wrote the book for myself, as weird as that sounds! There is a quote by Carol Shields that goes, "Write the book you want to read, the one you cannot find." As a mom to four boys, I wrote the book I wanted to find for my kids, but couldn't. Once I knew what kind of book I wanted to write, I wrote it for my boys. My boys love superheroes, so I knew the protagonist had to embody a modern-day hero; someone my boys could see in themselves. My boys also love adventure and conflict, where the hero ultimately ends up on top, but, boy, did he have to fight to get there. Our main character, Braven Young, is exactly that.
And finally, I wrote it for the moms that follow me in hopes that they, too, would find this message meaningful.
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