Any Day With You by Mae Respicio

Hello, Mae Respicio! Welcome back to Watch Connect Read. I LOVE Rebecca Mock’s cover illustration and Michelle Cunningham’s cover design for Any Day With You. What ran through your heart the first time you saw it?

Mae Respicio: Thanks for having me back, Mr. Schu! I love that you love the cover—I do, too! My heart filled with such joy when I first saw it—it’s perfect. Michelle and Rebecca are so talented. They beautifully captured the story’s warmth and tenderness, but also its brightness—there are many fun (and funny) moments in this book! 

Any Day With You centers around twelve-year-old Kaia, a budding filmmaker and special effects make-up artist, and Tatang, her great-grandpa. The story’s set in beachy Southern California during Kaia’s summer before seventh grade. When Tatang decides it’s time to return to his homeland, the Philippines, Kaia doesn’t want him to go—not when he’s lived with Kaia’s family her whole life. So she and her friends make a movie inspired by Tatang’s beloved Filipino folktales to enter in a contest, and hopefully prevent him from saying goodbye. 

What are four things Kaia would want everyone to know about her?

1. She believes in psychic cats! There may be a psychic cat in this story who’s integral to Kaia’s plan of stopping Tatang from moving. 

2. She loves to create! Kaia’s constantly sketching and using make-up to transform her friends into the magical creatures from Tatang’s Filipino folktales. 

3. She’s had two best friends since preschool, Trey and Abby. Trey’s an actor who can cry on cue without the help of eye drops, and Abby’s a confident director who inspires their film crew. The three of them make an excellent team. 

4. She always eats dessert first. (There’s a very strong possibility this is a trait that Kaia and I share…)

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Tatang is uniquely spritely at ninety-years old, a former surfer and middle school teacher, and the kind of guy who makes friends everywhere he goes. It’s through Tatang’s history of sacrifices for his family that Kaia gains a new perspective on winning. 

The Philippines seemed like a faraway place to me growing up in California. I knew it mainly through my family’s stories—their memories of what life was like living in a rural beachside province, their first moments in a new country, and all the folklore they shared at big family gatherings. As an adult, I finally understand how influential it is to have these stories so deeply rooted within me. They’re a part of who I am and how I connect to the world. I wanted to bring that into this book by exploring how kids discover their unique identities and by asking: What is a home?

Story is powerful! Stories help us understand each other and the world around us. We learn empathy by stepping into other peoples’ shoes, and what easier way to do that than through a story?

The House That Lou Built is a love letter to my culture and the book of my heart. It’s been so meaningful to hear from readers everywhere about all the different ways they’ve connected to Lou. I’m especially thankful to educators who’ve used it as a jumping off point for kids to think about what “home” means to them. Any Day With You shares a lot of the same themes around creativity, friendship, and family—I think that if Kaia and Lou ever met, they’d become fast friends. (Ooooh… maybe they deserve a sequel together?!)

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if there are any unique design elements in the book’s interior, because there are some lovely surprises! I once worked in the film and TV industry, which was one of my many inspirations for Kaia’s world. (I did everything from assisting 2 well-known directors, to writing screenplay “coverage”, to crafting screenplays of my own.) As Kaia and her friends make their movie, we get to read snippets of their screenplay and see pages straight from Kaia’s sketchbook and storyboards. One more fun fact: my husband’s a visual artist—we met working at a big animation studio—and he’s the one who did the interior art! I can’t wait to share this story with everyone. 

Look for Any Day With You on May 5, 2020. 

Mae Respicio’s debut novel, The House That Lou Built, received the Asian Pacific American Library Association Honor Award in Children’s Literature. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons. Like the main character in Any Day With You, Mae grew up hearing Filipino folktales and history from her family—though it wasn’t until much later that she learned to start asking questions.


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