We had an amazing opportunity to ask Leslie V. Ryan, author of “I Am Flippish!” some questions about her extraordinary children’s book!
Mixed Nation: What does the word “Flippish” mean?
Leslie: Flippish is a play on words that combines the words Filipino and Irish. Though it should be Filipish, Filipinos also call themselves Flips which is short for Filipino. Flip used to be considered derogatory, but that is no longer the case today. My children prefer Flippish so it stuck.
Mixed Nation: What was the inspiration behind the book, I Am Flippish?
Leslie: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2006 and by March of 2007 I had gone through a double mastectomy, hysterectomy, reconstruction, and two rounds of chemotherapy. I was ultra sensitive, emotional, and vulnerable. My son Sean was 5 and my daughter Linley was 2 then. That year on St. Patricks Day, Sean was excited to wear a hat that said “Kiss me I’m Irish!” but a mom spoiled that moment when she told him he didn’t look Irish. Sean asked me if he is Irish and I said yes, he is fifty-fifty — he is half Filipino and half Irish. Then I had an “aha” moment and explained that he is Flippish and Sean got it.
I began looking for children’s picture books about multicultural families at major bookstores. I found a couple of books that used animals that morphed together as a roundabout way to explain to kids about being mixed. It wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to talk about real people dealing with real issues, so I wrote “I Am Flippish!”.
Source: I Am Flippish
Mixed Nation: What lessons can children learn from the book?
Leslie: “I am Flippish!” is not just for biracial or multiracial families. It is for all families! Here are the lessons families can learn from my book:
Celebrating cultural pride boost confidence – Whether a child comes from a multicultural family or not, it is important for them to discover their ancestral background.
We all got our mom and dad’s best traits – The reason we all look different is because we all got the best traits from each parent. We are all one of a kind.
Children will be able to easily answer the question “What are you?”.
Mixed Nation: Why do you think other children of all mixes can relate to this book?
Leslie: Parents and children of all mixes can relate to this book because at some point in their lives they will hear questions from people on why they don’t look like a parent, why they look like they do, and the most common question “What are you?”.
Children’s books that explain about multiracial identity barely existed over twenty years ago so my mixed race friends didn’t have any resources. Growing up feeling of not belonging in any racial category have built resentment, shame, and confusion amongst my mixed friends. A great example of a person who went through this is my illustrator, Adolph Soliz. Adolph is half Native American Indian and half Mexican. After he read my manuscript, he decided that he didn’t have to choose to belong in one racial category.
Mixed Nation: Do you think there will be more books featuring mixed characters and families in the future?
Leslie: I hope so. I think there is a dire need for books about diversity in early childhood education. I think with the help of multicultural websites like yours and social media outlets the voices of mixed families will no longer be a whisper. Our voices will be heard loud and clear within the next few years which will result in more demand for multicultural books with mixed characters and families.