Book Title: Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala Author/Illustrator: Meenal Patel Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press Age Range: 4 to 8 years
It’s one thing to be far from the country in which you were born; to leave everyone and everything you love behind. It’s another to never have been to that country; one that encompasses all the histories, cultures, and people that comprise your family and heritage.
In Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala, a young Indian-American girl learns about the vibrancy of India through her Babi Ba.
Every day after school, Priya runs home to make the rotli for their family’s evening meal. And every day, Priya asks Babi Ba, “What is India like?”
It is then that Babi Ba reminisces about all of the sights, sounds, and smells of her homeland. From the arches and domes of the buildings…
To the marigolds that hang on storefronts and the doorways of homes. Priya listens intently, finally asking, “Babi Ba, will you take me to India.” In which Babi Bi replies, “Maybe one day we will be able to go together.”
When winter arrives, Priya notices that, unable to go outside to pick the marigolds that grow in the garden, Babi Ba is feeling homesick for India.
The next day at school, Priya discovers a way to help Babi Ba feel better. As she cuts and sews a paper garland of marigolds, her curious schoolmates gather around her. She shares with them all the things that Babi Ba had told her about India.
Once home, the garland is hung above the doorway of Priya’s home for Babi Ba to enjoy. As Priya explains how her classmates helped her, Babi Ba tells her that “Sharing India with others is the very best way to carry it with you.”
This lovely picture book by author-illustrator Meenal Patel features her signature style of mixing patterns and lush colors, giving a beautiful depth to the story. She also provides wonderful back matter featuring the meanings, definitions, and pronunciations of elements found throughout the book. All together Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala is a charming celebration of the bond between grandparent and grandchild and the thread of heritage that connects them.
Hi everyone, please help me welcome Angela Dalton to the MultiCulturalism Rocks! team!
Angela, it is a joy and honor to interview you. Thank you for joining me today, and congratulations on the publication of your first picture book, If You Look Up to the Sky, and on all the awards and accolades it has received so far, including being one of Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2018!
Multiculturalism Rocks! (Nathalie Mvondo for MCR): Please tell us a little bit about your background, prior to being an author.
Angela Dalton: Prior to becoming an author, I was a content strategist and digital producer; I’ve worked on projects for brands that span from a digital story series for Kix cereal to online games for television networks like Cartoon Network. It’s interesting to look back on my career and realize that much of my work centered around content for children. I feel like the universe was getting me ready to take the leap into children’s literature.
MCR: Wow! There is something to be said here about children and their early aspirations. Thank you for sharing. What inspired you to write, and specifically to write a picture book?
Angela Dalton: I’ve been writing since I was a child. I loved writing plays and then recruiting neighborhood kids to put them on for the adults. I think I’ve always been drawn to the intricate nature of words and how to visualize them – it’s what draws me to technology and digital media. And, there’s just an incredible satisfaction I feel seeing joy in a child’s face when you read that magical page that resonates with them. There’s nothing like it.
MCR: Tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind IF YOU LOOK UP TO THE SKY.
The story was inspired by something my great-grandmother said to me when I was very young. I was fascinated by how the moon appeared to be following me and she said, “If you’re feeling lost and you see the moon peeking through the clouds, just know you are exactly where you are meant to be.” I think that simple statement began my love for the sky and cosmos. When I moved to Oakland, CA, from Minneapolis, MN, her words came back to me. I was in this new city, feeling a little lost and this sentiment gave me some comfort. I began thinking about how the different sky- and nighttime elements can be very comforting, especially when you’re a child. Everything just kind of came to me, so I was able to sit down and write the manuscript in two days.
MCR: That is so amazing! You chose to self-publish your first book, and the result is stellar. What was the appeal about self-publishing, and what are your thoughts regarding traditional publishing as well?
Angela Dalton: Thank you! Being this was my first attempt publishing a children’s book, I knew pretty quickly that I had no idea what I was doing. Through the help of friends, I was able to connect with and interview five self-published authors and five traditionally published authors. Both had their pros and cons; but, being this had personal family ties I felt that self-publishing was the better choice. Visually, it was very clear in my head how I wanted it to look and you don’t really have creative control if you publish traditionally. However, I also want to be very transparent – I worked with Beaver’s Pond Press to publish the book, so I wasn’t doing it by myself. It also was a lot of work to promote and distribute the book myself, and I don’t think I would have been as successful had I not had a background in marketing and a great network. I think that’s really important for anyone considering self-publishing to understand.
I’m currently trying the traditional publishing for new stories I’ve written. I would love to work with an editorial team at a publishing house, but for this one I think self-publishing was the right choice.
Editorial Note: Beaver’s Pond Press is a hybrid publishingcompany based in Edina, Minnesota that publishes independent authors and artists. Source: Wikipedia
MCR: Do you have a literary agent, and if not, are you interested in working with one?
Angela Dalton: I’m definitely open to it. As much as I loved the experience I had with If You Look Up to the Sky, I very much want this to be a career. I would welcome the guidance of someone who knows what they’re doing – I still have so much to learn!
MCR: Any agent would be very lucky to work with you. What is a children’s book, beside your own, that you would love to see adapted on the big screen?
Angela Dalton: I would love to see Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison turned into a series! I think it would be so incredible if each of the women featured had a 30-minute segment that focused on their childhood and those defining moments that made them the leader they became. Girls of color need to see that they, too, can be a leader. Whoever develops and produces this would get ALL OF MY MONEY! M
MCR: This is such a great suggestion, and I cannot wait to see it on screen.
Thank you so much for this interview, Angela, and welcome aboard! MCR Family, I am excited to announce that Angela offered to join Multiculturalism Rocks! as a contributor. Please help me in welcoming her, and look forward to reviews on some of her favorite books!
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