Making Friends with Dr. Eve L. Ewing

Starting a new grade can be a scary experience. Your new teacher could be strict. Your homework might be a harder. What if you’ll be too shy to make new friends? I remember being nervous about starting sixth grade. That year I got to join the school band, which I was excited about. But I wasn’t sure what instrument I should pick to play, or if any of my friends would also want to join the band.

The Book

Maya and the Robot book cover featuring illustrations by Christine Almeda.

MJ and Jada were going to be in Ms. Montgomery’s class listening to her play guitar and sing songs she made up about the water cycle and the different parts of the ecosystem , and doing real lab experiments with microscopes and chemicals. Meanwhile I would be stuck in Ms. Rodriguez’s class. Ms. Rodriguez, whose main claim to fame was that she once made a kid write a ten-page report about gum after he stuck some under a desk. Great.

Chapter 2: The First Day, page 23

Maya and the Robot is a new book by award-winning author and sociologist Eve L. Ewing. In the story, fifth-grader Maya faces the troubles and successes of beginning a new year in school. It’s also the first year Maya will get to take part in the school’s science fair, which is very important to her.

The Author

Eve L Ewing's headshot by Mercedes Zapata features a smiling, looking up Eve.
Photo of Author Dr. Eve L. Ewing by Mercedes Zapata

Eve L. Ewing’s past experiences as a middle school science teacher helped her write Maya and the Robot. Ewing loved to read as a child. As a teacher she got to read for young people. She believes that children’s literature is important.

“Many of us form aspects of our identity, who we are, how we understand the world, through the books we read as children,” Ewing said.

In the book Maya has problems that children have growing up. She gets nervous about making friends and struggles with her new teacher. Ewing said her goal was to write a relatable story that children could enjoy for years.

“I knew that I wanted to write this kind of a fanciful story of a girl and her robot. And I thought that it would be great to write that during the period of time when many of us start to take our friendships very seriously, and form different kinds of relationships and be a little bit more independent,” Ewing said.

The Story

Illustration by Christine Almeda of Robot Ralph (left) and Maya.
Maya and the Robot is illustrated by Christine Almeda

Maya finds and brings to life a homemade robot named Ralph. Ralph can do things that help Maya and her family, and makes Maya happy. Maya’s love of science helps her build confidence in herself as well as help the people around her.

“I really hope that kids reading the book will reflect on the things that they love about themselves, the things that they’re curious about and passionate about, and the way that those things can help other people,” Ewing continued. “When you pursue the things that you love in service of community…it makes the world a better place.”

Listen to a sample of the book!

Maya and the Robot can be found online at the Penguin Random House website and at most stores that sell books.

Melissa Hood holds a bachelor of arts in creative writing and a minor in music from Pacific University. After graduating from college, she worked as an intern for All Classical Portland and KBOO Evening News. When not talking about, listening to, watching live, or playing music, she also enjoys writing and drawing. Born and raised in Eastern Oregon, she now resides in the Portland area to continue to pursue her artistic passions.

Melissa Hood, 2021