What was the idea behind Is Your Hair Made of Donuts?
I talk to a lot of moms and dads who tell me that they want their children to make better food choices. I then had an idea for a kids book while walking through the airport for an early morning departure. You will not believe what I noticed at that time -- clear, large bins filled with brightly colored sweets. I was surprised when I saw young people buying candy at 7am and drinking soda pop to wash down their purchase. As I continued to walk towards the gate at the airport, I saw young children eating donuts and drinking blue colored liquids and at that point, a lightbulb went off. I wanted to help teach kids to make healthier food choices, and Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? was created.
How did you come up with the title?
It was the morning in the airport that really helped to create the title. I often see lots of young children eating donuts. I also work with lots of grown people and small people by cutting small samples of their hair to see their health of the body. And while waiting on the airplane for takeoff, the engines of the plane began to rev up and so did my brain. I was thinking about hair and thinking about donuts, and then in a flash, the title came to me- and Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? was created. (You never know when something important will come into your mind, so always keep paper and pencil handy so you can write down your ideas.)
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Do you ever sneak a donut?
No, my hair is not made of donuts. LOL! My hair is made of Brussels sprouts and broccoli. But as a kid, boy oh boy, did I love donuts. I best check my hair! I hope there are no sprinkles in it.
How did you choose the names Matt and Maddie for your main characters?
Well honestly, I first thought about candy because both of these characters longed for sweets. I kept scrolling through all the different names of sugary treats, and M and M’s popped up. At that point I knew I had their initials chosen and filling in the rest of their names after that was easy. I really liked that Matt and Maddie both began with the letters M- A (as in mom).
Early in your book, you touch on a very important issue that is common at lunch tables across America- teasing. Sadly, many children make fun of other children’s healthy snacks. In your story, Maddie tells her mom that her best friend laughs at her healthy snack- her apple, and that she is tired of feeling different. Can you talk more about this?
Sure! I hear about this from many families all the time and it is one of the main reasons I made sure to include this topic in the book. Teasing is both potentially harmful and serious in nature and can create an atmosphere of fear for a young person. I know many children are embarrassed by their healthy snacks and because of that either throw their snacks away at school and never eat it, or hide it somewhere so no one will ever see it. This issue needs to be addressed at home and in school so that children feel safe and comfortable about what they are eating. I am happy that we have begun to have this conversation so that more and more parents, teachers, and administrators can address this issue.
Do you have a favorite scene in the book?
Yes, my favorite scene is the dream scene where Matt and Maddie’s hair turns into donuts. I love that Madison's hair lit up the room like a Christmas tree decorated with giant colored twinkling and sparkling sprinkles. Before long, their heads are completely covered with large donuts, stacked high and aiming towards the ceiling. Both children stood in front of the mirror amazed at the sight of each other. And then there is a sense of magic as Madison moves closer to her brother, sprinkles falling from her head onto the floor, and like seeds sprouting-- more donuts grow until the room fills with twinkling, sparkling, sprinkle-sweet donuts. To me, the magic that transforms this scene is important because it makes the reader feel and experience things that in the end challenges their imagination.
Can you tell us about THE GIANT DONUT HAT you wear at your readings?
I just love the giant donut hat that I wear when I read to children. It is magical! This whimsical hat was created and born here in Rhode Island by a gifted and talented artist, Everett Hoag. A senior, creative executive, brand- marketing strategist, and connector, his original works have been commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, NYSCA, and Mass Council of Arts and Humanities. Everett Hoag’s events and campaigns have been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, NBC, and PBS; on the cover of Time and Newsweek (with Dr. Edwin Land of Polaroid), in such prominent periodicals as Town & Country, Glamour, Horizon and Vanity Fair, in trade journals (Adweek, W, Crain’s, Special Events Magazine), and in scores of newspapers around the globe (London Times, Tokyo Times, Boston Herald, Boston Globe, NY Times).
Tell us about the Wastelands in your book?
I always try to encourage both young and old to shop the perimeter of the market, since that is where the healthiest foods are located. One can find vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, healthy grains, and fats in those outside aisles. Inside the center of the market (i.e. “the Wastelands”), one finds lots of processed junk foods, those that never grow old, never rot, never get moldy, slimy, stinky or green. These fake foods do not provide the important vitamins and minerals necessary to make a body and brain strong; rather these foods are filled with ingredients that can weaken the body and make kids and adults feel sick all over. This section of the market is nutritionally barren and does not cultivate or nourish the body.