Flight attendant and new writer Katerra Locke of Murfreesboro turned her travels into youngsters’s books starring her 6-year-old son, Elias, throughout final 12 months’s pandemic-induced downtime.
Locke, a former name heart coach, made the profession change to flight attendant for US Airways, now American Airways, in 2013 when she was dwelling in Atlanta. After being denied a promotion, a coworker instructed changing into a flight attendant to show Locke’s love for journey right into a full-time profession.
Writing, nonetheless, has been within the image for for much longer. As a toddler, Locke mentioned she would spend time making her personal story books with hand-drawn illustrations and faux copyright symbols. Her grandmother, Loraine Jackson, was additionally a broadcast author and poet.
“It was simply one thing I wished to do,” mentioned Locke, whose childhood e book operation turned the preface to her journey into self-publishing by way of Amazon and Ingram final 12 months.
Locke was born in Cookeville, however her household relocated to Murfreesboro when she was within the fifth grade. She graduated from Blackman Excessive College and attended the College of Memphis and Center Tennessee State College. She lived in Georgia for a bit earlier than returning to the ‘Boro in 2014.
She wrote two youngsters’s journey books documenting her and her son’s journeys abroad in a sequence referred to as “Elias and the Magic Blanket.” She’s instructed the tales of their trip to Barcelona in 2017 and their spontaneous journey to Turks and Caicos Islands in 2019 throughout her time away from work due to the pandemic.
“Once I initially began, I assumed it was going to be a straightforward course of and fast and quick, nevertheless it’s not at all times like that,” mentioned Locke. “I wished to verify I used to be doing all the things correctly. Though I used to be doing it myself, I nonetheless wished that steering.”
Locke mentioned Scholastic editor Amy Betz, who labored on “The Magic College Bus” e book sequence, was a giant assist in guiding her by means of the revision course of. Illustrator Alana Magdalene reworked a few of Locke’s household trip images into brilliant, colourful illustrations that draw younger readers into every story.
She mentioned her son and his real-life “Blankie,” a child blanket given to him at start, have been the inspirations for the storytelling to begin.
“I imply it goes in all places with us,” mentioned Locke, who thought the blanket would make a wonderful, magical journey companion. “It goes with us on our journeys. He sleeps with it at evening, and we’ve misplaced it just a few instances abroad and have needed to discover it.”
Classes from a visit
She mentioned the Turks and Caicos journey was one she and Elias look again on probably the most fondly. It was a spur-of-the-moment determination attributable to a flat tire and a missed flight to the Dominican Republic that ended up being a lesson in generosity and adaptability.
After pulling over at a gasoline station, Locke mentioned a few strangers helped change her tire earlier than persevering with their commute to work.
“Simply beginning off the journey, I assumed that was simply nice. Simply displaying him the kindness of strangers. It confirmed him additionally that issues occur,” mentioned Locke. “Issues don’t at all times go your method, however, you realize, it might prove higher than you had initially deliberate.”
These classes are conveyed on the pages of the books by means of issues so simple as making an attempt new meals like conch fritters, actions like snorkeling, and even interacting with the locals of a distinct tradition.
Locke mentioned her curious little boy will “attempt something as soon as,” and that she encourages him to “give issues an opportunity.”
Adventures in kindergarten
Behind every e book is a trivia web page, itemizing enjoyable information for fogeys and academics to share with their youngsters and college students about every vacation spot in query.
Though Elias will quickly wrap up his kindergarten 12 months on the Discovery College in Murfreesboro, Locke mentioned she plans to proceed working in journey time on faculty and vacation breaks.
The books have even made their method into the college’s kindergarten lecture rooms after Locke learn the story by way of Zoom.
Elias’ kindergarten trainer Teresa McCarthy mentioned that the children “thought it was so cool” that their classmate had a e book written about his travels.
“We cherished it a lot that we turned it right into a challenge for all of kindergarten titled ‘The Magic Blanket Travels the World’. Every scholar selected a distinct nation and realized about its tradition, traditions, holidays, and customs. Then college students shared what they realized by creating a visible, costume or murals,” McCarthy wrote in an e-mail.
The challenge is anticipated to develop into an annual custom for the little ones.
Locke’s break day from American Airways got here to an finish final month, and he or she’s again on board at her Washington, D.C.-based airline job, which takes her throughout the US and the islands within the Caribbean Sea. When she’s away on flights, Elias stays together with his grandmother, Debbie Locke.
She hopes to proceed the sequence with books on their 2016 journey to Australia and their latest Spring Break getaway to Hawaii. She’d additionally prefer to see the sequence on tv as a cartoon adaptation.
“I hope that younger readers determine themselves with Elias. I hope it encourages them to journey as a result of I believe that they’ll see how a lot he learns after we do go to those completely different locations,” mentioned Locke. “I simply need children to journey and get to expertise this massive, stunning world that we’re all part of.”