White Sugar Brown Sugar posted an interview with me and offered a giveaway of one of my books. Click here. But since this in now over, I'm going to post the interview here...
White Sugar, Brown Sugar wrote: I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Wellington, the author of my daughter's favorite book, Mr. Cookie Baker. The best part of Monica's books for our family is the beautiful illustrations which feature children of various races---not just a bunch of white kids! Besides the diversity, what I love about Monica's books include: the vivid colors, the recipes, the simple sentences, the details in the pictures, the simple but exciting plots, and so much more!
I have been writing and illustrating picture books for young children for almost 25 years.
I love creating books. I love working on my own and being self-employed, never working in an office. The way of life very much suits me. I live in New York City. My studio space is in my apartment where I live. When I step outside, I am in the center of a very busy area of the city, but when I am inside my apartment, it is very quiet. I face into the center of a tree-filled block and the sounds of the birds create a buffer from the sounds of traffic. I can almost pretend I am living in the country! I have lived in NYC for 30 years.
I have a daughter. (She is now 20 and dances with New York City Ballet.) I have been a single mother since she was born. Especially when she was young I felt very lucky to be self-employed, and to be able to combine work and motherhood so easily. I was working on my books very much in the midst of all the busy activities of her young childhood. I would draw and paint when she was sleeping (during naps, and early, early in the morning before she woke up), when she was on play dates, and then when she was at school.
The book I want to highlight here, Mr Cookie Baker, was a book I wrote and illustrated when my daughter was about three. I have always loved baking and making cookies. I loved making cookies when I was little with my mother. The idea for this book came from those memories, as well as the experience of then baking with my daughter. In addition, some years before, I had worked in a bakery in NYC during the holidays. All this came together to shape the book. Mr Cookie Baker is about a busy day in the life of a baker, He makes cookies, step by step... He sells them in his shop to the neighborhood children...He finally eats a cookie himself before he goes to bed. There are just a few short sentences on each page. I didn’t say in the words where the story takes place, but in the pictures I show that it is a place like NYC, where there is great diversity: people of all skin colors and backgrounds.
I go through many stages when I work on a book. I develop the idea with little sketches, then I draw bigger more detailed sketches. I put them together into what is called a dummy: a first book in black and white. Then I plan out my colors and the overall look for the book. Painting the final pictures in color is the fun part but it is the last step of a long process that usually takes me anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the book. Here is a link to my website showing more about how I worked on Mr Cookie Baker: http://monicawellington.blogspot.com/p/inside-mr-cookie-baker.html
Mr Cookie Baker was my first book in which I included recipes. The recipe for the decorated sugar cookies is based on my mother's recipe - I fiddled with it to make it as easy as possible. Many people have told me how much they love this recipe and that the cookies always turns out! Apple Farmer Annie, Pizza at Sally's, Crepes by Suzette all include my recipes. More recently I have worked on a series of coloring books for Dover Publications that are about cooking and include even more of my recipes. Cooking is a really fun family activity, plus children learn so many valuable skills. And of course cooking is an important part of healthy eating. One of my coloring books "Color and Cook Healthy Snacks" just won a Blueberry Award honorable mention.
In my small way I am happy if I can help encourage reading, cooking, healthy life styles, appreciation of the arts... and in my next book, an awareness of the environment. My new book is titled Gabby and Grandma Go Green and will be out in early 2011. It is about a little girl and her grandma (modeled on my own grandmother) working on a sewing project together. They make tote bags and then have a fun-filled day that’s great for the environment!
To find out more about my books visit: http://www.monicawellington.com/