If you know me, this next revelation will come as NO surprise: I am a foodie! I love to experience cultures through new foods as I travel (even in the US!), and I LOVE to travel. Imagine my delight then about today’s picture book which is about food all around the world!
Many of my blog readers will remember Lynne Marie from previous visits. Her last book release (“Moldilocks and the 3 Scares”) came out in August. She also has a plethora of cute picture book animals that any child would love to cuddle, but today’s book is her first foray into the non-fiction picture book market. When she’s not cruising around the world, she lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds. She’s represented by Deborah Warren of East West Literary Agency. You can learn more about her at her website.
“Let’s Eat: Mealtime Around the World” is a very clever take on food books for kids. It makes cultures around the world accessible to kids by talking about meals in one day as experienced by children in those countries (who all have a name!). It starts out with several breakfasts, progresses to lunch, and ends with dinner and dessert. Yum! There’s a wonderful range of activities, countries, and meals.
Thanks for stopping by my blog again Lynne Marie!
Me: This is a wonderful foray into the nonfiction picture book market. What made you want to write this book?
Lynne: I was asked to write this book by my wonderful Beaming Books editor Naomi Krueger. She chose me to ask because she knew I was a travel agent and have travelled extensively. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was about this project!
It was right up my alley experience-wise and in my wheel-house passion-wise.
However, full-disclosure there was still a challenging aspect to writing this book. I am a vegetarian with leanings toward vegan. My son teases me all the time because the original draft had no meat, fish or chicken dishes. And the second draft had one of each. He’s a harsh first reader though and soon the manuscript was up to snuff. Obviously, he eats these things. But to be honest, it wasn’t just about that. I had chosen meals that I felt kids could easily make by themselves, and would lend to accompanying recipes — a protein like tofu would be much easier for a little one to prepare.
Me: This is an incredibly timely book for children about appreciating others’ cultures and finding ways that we are the same. How did you pick which cultures to include?
Lynne: Well, as we mentioned, this was my first non-fiction book. I did so much research and of course, leaned toward places I had travelled. I had highlighted 40 countries and presented my draft, only to find out I had to narrow it down to 13! To do so, I tried to make sure I represented as many diverse cultures as possible, and that the countries were also spread out. For example, as much as I would have loved to represent both, I could not represent both India and Pakistan as they border each other, and chose Pakistan because it was the lesser known of the two. Others I chose because they were popular and felt like they might hook the reader into learning more about the culture, like China. Who doesn’t love Chinese food?
Me: These cultures are so rich in foods that would be different for children. How did you pick which ONE meal to focus on from each culture?
Lynne: It was hard, to be honest, but I tried to pick a food that was commonly eaten by and enjoyed by children while also representing something special or unique about the country AND might also appeal to the sensibilities of the reader. For example, I thought little ones would find it interesting that Filippino children may eat hot dogs and rice for breakfast!
Me: Wow! That’s a lot of considerations for ONE meal! The illustrations by Parwinder Singh are perfect. Were there any illustrating surprises for you?
Lynne: On this book, Naomi had selected Parwinder Singh in mind, and when she showed me his art, I totally agreed that he was perfect. I could not be more delighted with the way he portrayed the characters I created from these wonderful countries.
Me: What is one thing that surprised you in writing this story?
Lynne: Writing non-fiction was much harder than I thought. My dear friend Brenda will attest to that fact as she was my sounding board during this period and I thank her for that. The other thing that surprised me was that due to this being an in-house assignment, I did not get a dedication in the book which I didn’t realize. I would have liked to thank Brenda, and my bosses — Lisa and Steve Griswold at Pixie Vacations as well as my parents. The later four for inspiring me and helping me to explore the world!
Me: Any advice for writers or illustrators new to the nonfiction market?
Lynne: Do not be lax with any deadlines. Be ahead of them. It is way more work than you can anticipate, especially in the case of researching not only countries, but their food, culture and customs. And you will so often run into variations and have trouble getting that third validation and be back to square one.
I would also say — when you get an assignment, don’t be shy. Ask all the questions up front, even if all the answers aren’t provided up front. It’s better to understand what the constrictions of a project are prior to doing it, rather than finding out after.
Me: Absolutely! You travel a lot with your day job as a travel agent. What has been one of your favorite “new” food discoveries on one of your trips?
Lynne: Yes, I do! I must admit that Travel is one of my biggest passions. I have recently added some big countries to my list: Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Russia and Sweden. And I was so happy to return to Amsterdam and Bahamas and Mexico and Jamaica and Puerto Rico. To be honest, there’s not really any place I don’t enjoy travelling to!
But to answer your question, one of the things that impressed me were the Kanel Snegle – Danish Cinnamon Rolls. I don’t even like them in America, but we were at an open-air museum there, and they served them as a courtesy, and I decided to just try one! Here is a recipe for readers to make themselves: https://baketotheroots.de/kanel-snegle-aka-danish-cinnamon-rolls/ Let’s eat!
I hope readers, scout leaders, teacher and libraries will buy this book and help celebrate our differences in a fun way. I would love to be able to write and share the next fun book in the series: “Let’s Play! Games Around the World.” So please mark this book To Read in Good Reads, order into your library system, post reviews and support in any way possible.
Also, please feel free to contact me for a signed bookplate or a Zoom visit with your class or scout troop or group! I am happy to answer e-mails, as well!
Thank you for the recipe Lynne Marie! That recipe sounds delicious and your next book sounds just as fun! Dear readers, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this book yet, track it down. It’s definitely one to study for a clever new approach on a popular nonfiction topic.