At first Ariel was the younger kid. To make her more like her namesake I made her older than Ben, as little kids tend to look up to older kids. Unless said kids are siblings. Then they are just annoying as they are always telling you what to do.
Ariel gets the job done no matter what. Give her a task, she’ll complete it in record time. Give her many tasks and she will sassily reply “…you want fries with that?” She’s normally calm in any situation but like any kid, she is prone to worrying about things out of her control. She can see the big picture, and uses her moral compass to guide her through decision-making. In short, Ariel ROCKS.
Another critical issue with which I wrestled was the kids’ ethnicity. I’m Asian, and this symbol is Asian, so it should follow that the kids should be Asian, right? The sad reality is that picture books featuring minority kids DO NOT SELL. So my initial intent was to keep their ethnicity ambiguous. In my children’s book group one of our members really pushed for this continuity.
Though I was aiming to make them Asian, the kids have a certain ambiguity to their ethnicity. To one they looked Latino, while another thought Arabic. What matters is that Ariel and Ben represent a growing number of kids who are growing up without these role models and idols who look like them.