Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Q&A with Meredith Rusu


Photo by Sandra Nissen Photography



Meredith Rusu is the author of the new children's picture book There's a Yeti in My Tummy. It's the first in her Mighty Moods series. Her many other books include Silenzio, Bruno!


Q: What inspired you to write There's a Yeti in My Tummy?


A: I had the idea for There’s a Yeti in My Tummy a few years back when my older son, then 5 years old, would wake up with a huge mop of bed head in the morning. It was so wild, I thought to myself, “It’s like there’s a yeti in there.” And thus, the inspiration was born!


My two sons, now 8 and 6, have both been little “yetis” since they were toddlers. I found myself encountering daily wackiness you couldn’t make up. Things I would text my husband at work because they were so unbelievable.


Like one of them overflowing the kindergarten urinal because they didn’t realize toilet paper would make the water go “up, up, up.” Discovering all the tissues in the house sacrificed as part of a Super Mario “boss battle.” Cheese doodles dumped in the middle of the kitchen floor for an afternoon snack. Getting a call yet again from the teacher because of a “robot zombie scuffle” on the playground.


And, of course, the constant struggle that is getting ready for school. 


Sometimes, when the craziness is just too much, you have to laugh. I wanted to share that joy in the chaos through this series and also use it to empower children to find their inner strengths as they’re growing along with their big feelings.


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, in part, “Young readers will gradually understand the correlation of the appearance of the yeti in Matthew’s thoughts and how the boy is feeling in the moment; the creature serves as an effective metaphor for impulse control as well as bravery.” What do you think of that assessment?


A: I love it! That’s exactly what I was hoping young readers would take away. The yeti is all about feeling big and bold and brave, but it’s also about learning how to manage those larger-than-life feelings when they get a little too overwhelming.


The yeti is a part of Matthew in the story—just like big feelings are a part of all kids—and it’s both empowering and a source of positive growth when lovingly guided by Matthew’s teachers and parents.


Q: What do you think Martín Morón's illustrations add to the story?


A: I’m absolutely thrilled with Martín’s work. He did such a stunning job bringing the yeti and Matthew’s world to life.


When I saw the first art samples, I could tell that Martín just got it. He was able to somehow transform this abstract idea into an illustrated yeti that was big and powerful but also fun and lovable and goofy all at once.


And all the little details he added—the yetis on Matthew’s pajamas, the expressions of the kids in the classroom—it’s all just perfect.


Q: What first got you interested in creating children's picture books?


A: As a freelance author, I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity to write several picture books for Disney, like Sweet Dreams, Jack-Jack, based on Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles, and Silenzio, Bruno!, based on the movie Luca.


At the same time, my sons were at an age where they would light up every time we purchased a new picture book. They would ask me to read their favorite stories over and over again at bedtime.


And I felt inspired to start writing some of my own ideas as picture books so I could share them with the boys and, hopefully, other parents and children.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have lots of projects in the works! The next two books in the Mighty Moods series will be coming out with 4U2B Books and Media in 2024 and 2025. (I’m not able to reveal the new creatures . . . yet! But trust me—there are MANY big emotions to come!)


And I also have a picture book titled Augie Learns to Play Chess publishing in 2025.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: If you’re interested in fun updates, sneak peeks of the Mighty Moods series and all my work, and event announcements, make sure to check out my website, meredithrusu.com, and follow me on Instagram at @meredithrusuwrites. There’s lots of exciting stuff to come!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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