First the Waves of Life, Now the Waves of Change

Author of The Mop Rides series Jaimal Yogis

With the second title in the Mop Rides series out today, author Jaimal Yogis was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions about Mop, the message he hopes kids and parents take away, and the future adventures Mop may get up to!

Jaimal Yogis is the author of the newly released Mop Rides the Waves of Change, and numerous others books including Mop Rides the Waves of Life, Saltwater Buddha and All Our Waves Are Water, which was named a “Best Beach Read of 2017” by the BBC. His work has been featured in the pages of O, the Oprah Magazine, Outside, Forbes, The Atlantic, ESPN Magazine, and many others. He lives and surfs in San Francisco with his wife, Amy DuRoss, and their three sons.


Why was it important to you to bring Mop back for a sequel?

Jaimal Yogis: I’ve honestly never had so much fun making a story. So doing a second Mop book selfishly meant getting to stay in that summery space of joy that Mop has brought me from the start. Also selfishly, I see our sons (ages 5, 7, and 9) having a lot of fun with Mop. When I’m drawing and writing drafts, they love to come up with new situations that Mop should encounter, new emotional waves he should have to navigate. For example, recently they started going to a new school and the one who had the hardest time with the transition (but ended up loving it) said just the other day, “the next Mop should be about Mop being sad about leaving his school, but then he makes new friends at his new school!” They see themselves in Mop and I really cherish those conversations and I want them to continue as long as possible. Of course, hearing from families and teachers around the world who are enjoying Mop—and using Mop in classrooms—has been a huge motivation to keep going too. It feels like the world is hungry for stories about how to process emotions, and I think that’s such a good thing that we’re recognizing that this kind of learning needs to start early. Emotions are complex, so I feel like the stories should be varied too. With all that in mind, one more Mop tale just felt like the right thing to do.

What do you think it is about Mop that makes him so appealing to children?

Jaimal Yogis: Matt Allen deserves a ton of credit for that. Kids love Mop’s whole look. He’s cute and cool. And of course they like his hair. Nobody does hair like Matt can! Mop is fun to try and draw and color yourself, too. For me, drawing those squiggly lines for Mop’s hair in my rough drafts is a kind of therapy. On a character level, Mop is relatable. Like most of us, he just wants to have fun and be in those great flow states that kids so easily drop into when they play. Of course, life/parents/school keep putting up blockades on the flow (bummer!). Kids know how that feels, and just like them, Mop gets frustrated and angry and sad—and sometimes he acts out. But another relatable feature about Mop is that he’s open to learning. He has a good heart. And I think because Mop is a fun, cool kid, it helps kids stay open to learning with him.

From my experience as a dad, kids want to learn emotional resilience. Nobody likes being a victim of their tantrums. But they don’t always want to listen to advice from a parent or teacher—often because those lessons come at the most difficult moments, and in a scolding tone. My hope is that Mop is offering a friendly alternative. He’s lending families a hand and saying, “Hey, I know it feels stormy inside sometimes. But let’s paddle through this together. It’ll be fun. There are good waves on the other side.” 

The more we understand how those different types of energies move through us in waves, the more we become expert surfers of our own lives.

JAIMAL YOGIS

What do you hope children and parents take away from Mop’s adventures?

Jaimal Yogis: It has been really cool to see how kids get the central metaphor that emotions are passing through the ocean of our minds like waves, and that the more aware we become of those waves, the more we can choose which ones to “ride” and which ones to let pass. It sounds simple, but of course it’s endlessly difficult to put into practice because our emotional landscape is complex and largely unconscious. My hope is that the first Mop book (Mop Rides the Waves of Life) lays the foundation that all states are passing, and we can use our breath like our surfboard to navigate rough waters and pleasant states alike. The second Mop book reinforces that lesson while also helping kids become curious about their emotions.

So, ultimately, I want Mop to leave families with that curiosity, and hopefully an insight that emotions are just energy in our bodies. The more we understand how those different types of energies move through us in waves, the more we become expert surfers of our own lives.

With climate anxiety becoming more and more a part of public discourse, do you believe Mop can help younger children understand and take action to improve the condition of our planet? How might he inspire them?

Jaimal Yogis: I think so. There’s a lot to be frustrated and angry about when it comes to how adults are treating the planet. That frustration can wear you down and make you feel helpless and hopeless. I hope Mop will be a reminder for families that when they feel sad or angry about the planet’s health, those emotions aren’t necessarily “bad.” They’re actually the love we have for nature, our home, and each other. They’re coming up because we care. When you arrive at that insight, I think there’s more motivation to bring creativity to problem solving and make positive, healing actions fun.

Will Mop be coming back for more adventures in the future?

Jaimal Yogis: Absolutely! I’m working on the third one now and I’m so grateful to Parallax and Matt Allen for helping push Mop into another wave.


I hope this interview has you excited to catch your own waves of change. Mop Rides the Waves of Change is out now.

  • Mop Rides the Waves of Change

    A Mop Rides Story: Save the Ocean with Mindfulness, Surfing, and a Band

    When surfer kid Mop sees plastic in the ocean, he gets mad. But with mindfulness, he realizes anger won’t save the waves, and he turns his difficult feelings into a…

    View this book

Jaimal Yogis is the author of the newly released Mop Rides the Waves of Change, and numerous others books including Mop Rides the Waves of Life, Saltwater Buddha and All Our Waves Are Water, which was named a “Best Beach Read of 2017” by the BBC. His work has been featured in the pages of O, the Oprah Magazine, Outside, Forbes, The Atlantic, ESPN Magazine, and many others. He lives and surfs in San Francisco with his wife, Amy DuRoss, and their three sons.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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