Q: How did you come up with the idea for Masha Munching, and for your character Masha?
A: Growing up in Israel, we spent our summers in a small village where farmers raised cows, chickens and goats. We used to laugh as the goats tried to nibble on our cloths.
I have another book, The Klezmer Bunch, with a goat character, also named Masha, so that means that I have a soft spot for goats.
One day, I just came up with this alliteration, Masha Munching, and that kind of sat in my brain for a while, till I came up with the idea of a goat that longs for great food.
Q: With this book, did you focus more on the plot first, or on the illustrations--or both together?
A: As an author/illustrator I usually develop my story by working on the plot and images at the same time. I carry a sketchbook with me at all time so I can imagine my protagonist or other characters: What they look like, their names, what they like, who are their friends etc.
Q: Which artists have particularly influenced your work?
A: I particularly love Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, and Chris Van Allsburg.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I hope readers will learn that sometimes we search far for happiness, only to discover that what we already have is wonderful.
At the same time, readers will discover that it is well worth searching far because we can use new experiences to gain knowledge and experiences and better our own community.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Another picture book and a nonfiction picture book biography.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Like Masha in my story, I have a voracious appetite, though I don’t eat breadbaskets and table legs. I do speak some French, enough to get me through dinner in a restaurant. I’m fluent in Hebrew and speak a little Arabic, enough to order good humus and falafel.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Amalia Hoffman.