This review and author spotlight series is part of the #HarperChildrensFestivalList reviews by Kidskintha.
A familiar struggle for parents of young children is the mealtime battle to provide adequate nutrition. A lot of parents have to fight the kids’ seemingly natural preference for not-so-healthy foods. Add to it the constant barrage of direct and indirect advertising to kids, the struggle seems to only get bigger and stronger.
Namita Moolani Mehra’s book, ‘Superfoods for Superheroes’ comes as a breath of fresh air that seems to understand exactly what parents and children need. Namita’s book features ten fun stories about a little boy who loves superheroes. He discovers the surprising superpowers of everyday foods through illustrated stories, followed by fun facts about the superfood and a kid-friendly recipe, all the while fostering his relationship with healthy eating.
Narrated in a delightful storytelling form, Namita brings the topic alive with rare and interesting tidbits on the fruits and vegetables from all over the world- exotic and mundane alike.
We had a little chat with Namita, talking about her journey, about her book ‘Superfoods for Superheroes’ being a pick for the #HarperChildrensFestivalList 2020, her little venture Magic Spice Box, and much more. Read on!
KK: You quit a corporate job to start the Indian Spice Box. Tell us about your journey from an entrepreneur to an author?
I have always loved writing since I was a little child and written for many magazines, entered poetry competitions, and even worked for my college magazine. I am a food writer at my core and my first book was, in fact, a cookbook that I sell along with my spice box product. When I quit the corporate world to start my own business…writing about my brand, telling stories about my products, and speaking with customers has always been my favorite part of being an entrepreneur! However, there is actually a strong connection with how my business led me to become a children’s book writer: about five years ago, I was selling my product, which is a modern version of a spice box (my company is Indian Spicebox) at a school Christmas fair and I kept noticing that children were magically drawn to the pretty colors of the spices. They asked me lots of questions about the spices and were very intrigued and curious about them. So I wrote the words down ‘The Magic Spicebox’ and this ended up being my first children’s book which was published by Scholastic a few years ago.
KK: How did you get the publishing deal with HarperCollins?
Tina who is the editor at the HarperCollins Children’s division was the editor of my first book ‘The Magic Spicebox’ at Scholastic. I pitched Superfoods to her at the AFCC (Asian Festival of Children’s Content) which is an annual conference here in Singapore, at the speed pitching event and she loved the concept. She was already familiar with my writing style and voice.
KK: I absolutely love the way you have tied up the benefits of each ingredient with their superpowers, and stories in ‘Superfood For Superheroes’! How did the research come about for that?
From being a mom! Mostly everything you read in ‘Superfoods For Superheroes’ is what I’ve been telling my son since he was a toddler. He has been the real inspiration for this book. This book actually started as an article that I wrote for a parenting website called Sassy Mama and then eventually it bloomed into a book. I took the same concept from my first book, 10 stories + recipes, plus added in the super facts.
KK: Tell us your writing process for the book? How did you balance your work and writing hours?
I started working on this book a long time ago but then it took a while to find it a good home. In the meanwhile, I joined a picture book writers critique group that meets once a week. I ended up re-writing a lot of it too after taking each story to my critique group. I am really happy with where the book ended up and proud of all the hard work I’ve put into it. I was lucky to find an incredible illustrator — thanks to one of my critique group members who introduced us.
KK: What’s your favorite recipe from your family, that’s not very widely known?
KK: What’s your fitness mantra?
I do yoga twice a week and I also work out twice a week with a personal trainer. I am very committed to these 4 fitness slots a week because as a writer you sit on your butt a LOT! haha! So I have to force myself to move, stretch, lift weights, and stay flexible!
KK: What’s the spice in your life?
My kids bring all the masala and magic to the show! Shivum is 7 years old and little Anya is 2.
KK: What milestones have you set for yourself now?
I want to continue to write many more food and even non-food stories for children. Right now I am focusing on picture books and I hope to write in other genres as well eventually (middle-grade and even novels someday!) I recently signed with a literary agent in the US and am excited for the next phase in my writing career.
KK: A few words about Kidskintha?
What an incredible resource for parents…truly a wealth of relevant information and relatable content!
‘Superfoods for Superheroes‘ is available on Amazon and all major bookstores.