The Inside Source - Pigging Out with Kristi Yamaguchi
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Pigging Out with Kristi Yamaguchi
Kristi Yamaguchi is famous for being graceful in public—she won an Olympic Gold Medal for Ladies Figure Skating in 1992 and was crowned the champion of "Dancing with the Stars" in season six. Yet the multi-talented champion (she also stars in a workout video and started a c hildren's charity) is drawn to significantly less delicate creatures. Her first children’s book, out this spring, is titled Dream Big, Little Pig.
At Barnes & Noble in The Grove shopping center, Kristi Yamaguchi tells a packed Los Angeles audience that her daughters Keara (3) and Emma (7) inspired her to write this uplifting story of a pig named Poppy who refuses to give up her dream of learning to ice skate.
Dream Big, Little Pig author Kristi Yamaguchi understands persistence. Born with a clubbed foot, she wore casts on her leg, then a brace, before hitting the ice for therapy because her doctor thought it would be helpful. Who knew she would become an Olympic star?
After reading an excerpt of Dream Big, Little Pig to the crowd, Kristi Yamaguchi poses for pictures and signs books. You can tell she’s a mom by the way she interacts with the kids. When she had finished signing the last customer's children's book, Yamaguchi chatted with us.
The Inside Source: Why did you choose a pig as the main character of Dream Big, Little Pig?
Kristi Yamaguchi: My parents called me “Pig Pen” after the Peanuts character when I was little. I liked to play in the dirt, and I always had a cloud of it around me. My favorite stuffed animal was a pig, and I collected pigs. Plus, I loved Miss Piggy. I was also born in the year of the pig (1971).
The Inside Source: Did your daughters have any story input in the children's book?
Kristi Yamaguchi: Not a lot. My older daughter, Keara, helped name Poppy. I was looking for a “P” name, and we started on flowers. California Poppy is one of our favorites, so that went into the selection. My younger daughter’s name is Emma. In the book, Emma is Poppy’s best friend, so my daughter thinks she is part of the book, too.
The Inside Source: Are there any children’s books that inspired you to write one?
Kristi Yamaguchi: I like reading Jamie Lee Curtis’s books to my kids. All of her books have a lesson or a message. I thought that was fun, and I wanted to do something similar.
The Inside Source: What is the last book you read?
Kristi Yamaguchi: I’m currently reading The Confession—John Grisham. Before that, Vince Flynn, American Assassin.
The Inside Source: When did you last skate?
Kristi Yamaguchi: I’ve done a couple of events at rinks. It’s fun to get on the ice with my daughters. They’re just learning how to skate, so my husband [Bret Hedican, a former professional ice hockey player and Olympic champion] and I will go on the ice with them for fun.
The Inside Source: Where is your Olympic Gold Medal?
Kristi Yamaguchi: Colorado Springs! The World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame is there. A lot of skaters have their costumes, skates, and medals on display at the museum. I think schools visit, and a lot of people get to see it. It’s close to the U.S. Olympic Training Center as well.
The Inside Source: What can’t you live without when you’re on the road?
Kristi Yamaguchi: My kids! It’s hard. I can’t even think about them; otherwise, I miss them. I always have to have my Kiehl’s lip balm. I can’t go to bed without it. Slippers, too. That’s my one luxury, so I don’t have to walk around barefoot in hotels.
The Inside Source: Do you have another children's book coming out after Dream Big, Little Pig?
Kristi Yamaguchi: Yes, we’re planning Poppy’s next book. Hopefully, next spring, she’ll be on another adventure.