The kids were so interested while we were reading "The Adventures of Keva: The Power of the Trees" by Ebony Zayzay and they had s...

Interview with 'The Adventures of Keva' author Ebony Zayzay

The kids were so interested while we were reading "The Adventures of Keva: The Power of the Trees" by Ebony Zayzay and they had so many questions! Ebony graciously took the time to answer all of our questions and I'm happy to share them with you all!

Cardboard Mom: Is this your first children's book?

Ebony Zayzay: Yes. I recently began to release children's books in 2021, amidst the pandemic and birth of my first child. I always had an interest in telling stories and encouraging a love for reading.

CM: What inspired you to create the character of Keva?

EZ: I wanted to create characters that looked like me and that other children, especially minority, were able to relate to. In mainstream publishing, they are starting to increase the number of stories featuring minority or BIPOC protagonists; however, as an independent publisher, I have the ability to create more niche stories to appeal to this audience.

CM: What country/area inspired the setting for this story?

EZ: I was inspired by the forest that I grew up with in North Carolina, as well as rainforests in Latin America. I traveled to Costa Rica in the past and was completely amazed by the trees.

CM: What kind of tree is Iya modeled after? What made you decide to write about the power of trees? Do you have a favorite kind of tree?

EZ: I modeled the tree, Iya, based on the Kapok Tree native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South American, and West Africa.

I personally always had a deep appreciation for trees, and I still stare at them in amazement of their beauty and history. I really love the multitude of trees in North Carolina, especially when the leaves start to change in the fall. I would say one of the more interesting trees that I've come across is the Socratea exorrhiza, the walking palm or cashapona, which is a palm native to rainforests in tropical Central and South America. I discovered this on my aforementioned trip to Costa Rica. It actually moves location based on the location of the sun!

Chloe, 11: What language is Iya? Does Keva mean something?

EZ: Iya means 'mother' in West Africa, which is where my husband originates. In the story, I mention 'we call her Iya as she gives so much,' as mothers often do. While Keva means 'beautiful/gentle,' which is perfect for this character who has a beautiful spirit and gentleness with nature.

Lil C, 9: How do people use bark to heal wounds?

EZ: It is stated that more than 121 natural remedies in the rainforest can be used as medicine. For instance, there are instances in which bark has been used to help with inflammation, high blood pressure and arthritis. One fun example for children is that the bark and leaves of Christmas trees, or the Scottish Pine, have been used to treat arthritis or improve lung health. However, I'm no medical expert and cannot guarantee the results ;-) 


Chloe, 11 and Lil C, 9: Why did they take Iya out of the ground? What were the people going to do with her? Who were they? (the girls were very upset at the people who took Iya and extremely interested in their purpose)

EZ: Trees like Iya are used for furniture, homes, paper, etc. In the case of Iya, she is very special as she's filled with magic, which may or may not have led to her removal. This is to be discovered in future stories.

CM: Will there be more adventures to come?

EZ: Yes. I plan to tell more stories of her adventures of discovering the magic of the outdoors.

I don't know about you, but I CAN'T wait to read about Keva's next adventure! I think this series will be so inspirational for the next generation of nature lovers and protectors. If you're interested in activities to go along with the book, you can sign up for Ebony's mailing list at to receive activity sheets. And if you missed our review of "The Adventures of Keva: The Power of the Trees," read it here.