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The Adventures of Olive – Olive doesn’t give up!

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

We are glad to present you: The Adventures of Olive, a bilingual book written by Hannah Hopcroft, illustrated by Caliandra Arrais and translated by Florencia Bell. What a great way to teach your kids to read in English or Spanish!

Hi, my name is Hannah Hopcroft and I am the proud author of The Adventures of Olive, Olive doesn’t give up! This bilingual children’s book is the first of many. It is a series of stories that are inspired by experiences I had while driving with my partner Ernesto in our VW kombi from Argentina to Mexico.

You can buy The adventures of Olive at Tienda Pachamama Latino Store or our by clicking below:

I had moved to Buenos Aires just before my 21st birthday and fell in love with the city. I could not speak a word of Spanish but after getting a job at Coffee Town inside the San Telmo Market, just a few blocks from my house, I very slowly started to learn the language and made friends who are still some of my dearest friends today. I met Ernesto and spent two and half yearsin Buenos Aires. Later, I decided that I wanted to learn more about coffee so it made perfect sense to fix up a kombi and drive to Mexico, thankfully Ernesto was up for the adventure and we made it happen.

That trip changed everything for us and these books are the result of what we experienced over one year and seven months driving, cooking and sleeping in our kombi, Olive, throughout Latin America. It is the result of the generosity showed to us, the kindness and the love. I hope that each person who reads this book can feel the complete and utter appreciation for all of those we crossed our path. These stories are for them.

When did you write this book?

After our trip we decided our next adventure would be New Zealand. We landed and I had a complete reverse culture shock. I was in my own country but I felt very out of place. I missed the colour and noise and warmth of Latin America. I had just had the most incredible experience of my life and it was hard to share even though that felt really necessary to be able to process the experience. I look back and realise that I was actually depressed and it was a very hard time. One day I grabbed my computer and the first four stories just poured out. That was 6 years ago.

Will you write more?

Yes! This is a series and the second book is about to be translated to Spanish before we begin the illustration process. Because everything is done by hand it takes a little longer but the result is worth it. So yes, there will be many more, Olive has to get all the way to Mexico!!

Was it hard to create a children's book?

YES!!! As it was a completely new experience for me, everything felt very hard. I did not know where to start, finding an illustrator, figuring out how to self publish, working with software that I had never used before. It was all tricky but I just had to take on one task at a time, if you look at the whole picture it can feel really daunting but if you just tackle each new step as they come up, you can do anything!!

Why is it bilingual?

It was really important to me that these books be bilingual. I am glad to report that the girl who arrived in San Telmo 10 years ago did learn Spanish!! It is what made our trip even richer, being able to speak to the people who's land you are travelling through makes your experience far richer in my view. For the last 10 years, Spanish has been part of my everyday life. Ernesto and I speak both languages at home and we know what it is like to read and connect with something in our own language. I wanted bilingual families to be able to have both so that each parent can chose the language that they feel most comfortable with when sharing reading time with their kiddies.

What has the response to the book been like?

I am very happy to report that we have sold 200 copies so far of this book here in Aotearoa. I have had such lovely feedback from parents and kids. Kids love hearing that we truly lived in Olive and that it is a true story. And many parents have said how much they enjoyed the story and the celebration of Latin America. There has been lots of fabulous feedback about the illustrations by Caliandra Arrais a talented Brazilian artist.

It was also interesting to see how after reading the book, friends and family were amazed that we had done that trip. Even though they have heard so many stories and seen many photos, there was something about reading the story that helped them to understand what a massive journey it was for us, so that has been very cool too.

Why did you want to tell these stories as children's book?

In many ways I feel like I learnt lessons like a child does, I didn't study Spanish, I didn't study geography, I didn't study the history of latin America but I was being taught all of these things and so so much more just by my surroundings. From time spent with different people and them sharing their stories or ideas or views. I was like a sponge. Sometimes Ernesto and I would just be slowly driving along in silence because we were receiving so much information from our surroundings that we just needed some time to absorb it...thankfully kombis are pretty slow so we had plenty of time. Sometimes tears would just silently fall down my face as we drove because we were driving through so many different places, towns, pueblos, barrios and the inequality and how un fair the world is sometimes felt really hard to look at.

I wanted to break down these stories to be as simple as possible, kids are open to learning because they are doing it all day everyday so it really just felt like the right place for these stories.

What was your biggest lesson?

Uff, very hard question to answer! I think that what you realise when you have travelled and spent time with many different people is that at the end of the day, we all want the same thing – We want to sit down and eat with people we love wether that be friends or family. We want to feel safe and respected and we want to see the people we love happy.

What was it like living in a Kombi for 1 year and 7 months?

It was amazing! It took a second to get used to being together 24/7 every day but you find a rhythm that works. You realise you don’t need to shower everyday and you start to appreciate the littlest things. Kombis bring people joy, so many times we would be driving along and someone would look up, see Olive and smile or wave or honk. You have to be good at fixing a motor because you will break down... a lot!! and you have to be patient because they don't go anywhere fast. Just Olive herself had many lessons to teach us!!

Lastly, I would just like to say thank you to everyone who has supported The Adventures of Olive, I hope that you enjoy the stories with your loved ones as they come out and eventually collect the whole set! - Hannah.


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