Children’s Book Nonni’s Moon was released this past summer, and I just love it! I have sat down with Author Julia Inserro and Illustrator Lucy Smith to chat about life, and what inspires them! Plus I created a unique and fun art project inspired by this lovely children’s book! Let’s grab the book, our clay and get started creating messages of love for the ones we love, perfect for any time of year, but also wonderful as gifts this holiday season!
Have you heard of Nonni’s Moon?
We have been reading a lovely book called “Nonni’s Moon” by Julia Inserro and Lucy Smith, a lovely story about a little girl and her Nonni (grandmother) who are unable to see each other as often as they both wish they could, but they come up with a lovely way to communicate with one another, by sending messages through the moon!
Beanie lives far away from her Nonni and waits patiently for her to call every day, and once they continue to share messages through the moon, Beanie is inspired to talk about it with her friends at school, and soon inspires her teacher to give it a try as well.
At bedtime, they both talk to the moon, as if they are talking to one another, and they listen for the other’s message before they fall asleep.
Their messages bring hope as they struggle with missing one another. My son loved reading this book with me, and this was his favorite page, with the words floating through the sky, and the very large moon looking over the two different cities. This children’s book, written by Julia Inserro and illustrated beautifully by Lucky Smith, brings hope to the reader as they relate to Beanie and her Nonni.
Our Artist Spotlight is shining on the Author and the Illustrator of this Newly Released Book, which we are so excited to have within our Build Your Masterpiece Class, which is in the process of being transformed into an Online Course for Parents, Home Educators, and Teachers!
I loved this sorry, and it brought me to tears at the end, so I know it’s a keeper! The artwork is fabulous and in fact, it got me so inspired that I came up with a really fun clay craft you can do with your kids!
Let me introduce you to the Author of Nonni’s Moon, Julia Inserro…
I recently sat down with Julia Inserro to chat about life, and learn about what inspires her with her writing!
Julia Inserro is from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, but grew up mostly in Ohio. She and her husband moved to the Middle East with their three cats! They are currently living in Bahrain- which is a tiny island next to Saudi Arabia. She is now a mom to three littles, a writer, reader, photographer, and explorer.
Nonni’s Moon is her first children’s book she has written, which has just been released this summer of 2018. She has traveled to 9 Countries and finds inspiration from her children. She says that she finds the things they say, observe and comment on are brilliant, they are just exploding with ideas and she merely tries to latch on and take notes.
When asked where her inspiration came from for the book, Nonni’s Moon, Julia said that the inspiration actually came from her mother and her children. The story goes, that one day, her mother, (their Nonni) told her that she was really missing them all, but she had looked up at the moon and realized that we all get to see the exact same moon. This made her feel better and a little closer to them. Upon hearing this, Julia said that it planted a seed in her mind and heart, and she let that seed germinate for a few months. It was one morning when dropping her children off to nursery school, that she took a drive to the beach, in Bahrain, and sat in her car and wrote the first draft of Nonni’s Moon, about 20 months ago. The inspiration came, and she took it!
Julia’s advice to any young budding Authors out there is this;
The best advive I have gotten and can give to anyone who wants to write, is to read and write a lot. Just read for fun, but let the words and cadence soak in. Then write, write, write and find your own voice. Don’t try to mimic others, but see what you like in others – simple, precise text, flowery prose, intense description, lengthy dialogue, etc. The great thing about writing is that there are so many different styles and so many different readers. Not everyone has to love Dr. Seuss or William Wordsworth or Stephen King. There are readers for (almost) all writers out there. And while you might not ever make a living out of it, it’s always something you can do on the side. If you love to write, you’ll do it any way you can. ~ Julia Inserro
Isn’t that just wonderful, it sure brings a tear to my eye, and smile to my face, as I am a mom of three children as well, and I can relate to her latching on to their brilliance, and taking notes! Let’s all take that in today, whether we are moms, children with bright ideas, or older students very interested in writing. Let the seed germinate, and grow, and do not forget to keep reading and writing!
You can find free Nonni’s Moon Coloring pages when you visit her Blog and Buy the book on Amazon, plus there is a Kindle Version as well. Books will be available Sept. 2018 for Amazon.ca, and we are so excited to have her and her book featured here in our Build Your Masterpiece Class!
Now Let me introduce you to the Illustrator of Nonni’s Moon, Lucy Smith…
I recently sat down it Lucky Smith to chat about life, and learn what inspires her with her artwork and illustrations…
Lucy Smith is from England, a beautiful town called Cheshire, which is close to Manchester. She is a mother to two adorable young children and is also a freelance Illustrator, who specializes in children’s picture books. She loves to create jewelry with crystals, sketching and drawing as well as graphics design but particularly enjoys reading children’s literature, and can be found writing stories of her own when she isn’t reading the latest Harry Potter novel, or taking hikes in the forest. She says that she gains inspiration from the books she reads and pours it into the books she illustrates.
And that is true with Nonni’s Moon, as you can see with every turn of the page, Lucy has truly poured her inspiration into this books’ illustrations; from the detail she shows us about the characters and the settings in the book, from what clothes Beanie likes to wear, to the wallpaper in the babies room, to the wonderful bridging effect the moon has on our beloved characters, to all of the cats that Julia has, which have been placed throughout the book, and are very fun to spot along the way! You can really see that Lucy truly got to know Julia’s family, of whom the book was based on and it’s in that process where Lucy finds her inspiration for her art! This is part of her process as an Artist, to get to know all the details and do research for every page, which she relates to like unto the role of ‘movie director’, being able to choose your camera angles, the lighting, and atmosphere, as well as painting the scene throughout the book, having the reader engaged as they turn from page to page.
“I felt the Moon needed to repeat throughout the illustrations, acting as a constant between Nonni’s and Beanie’s locations and I put a lot of thought into how the moon could be used best to ‘bridge’ the two locations together.” ~Lucy Smith, about Nonni’s Moon
Behind the Scenes of Lucy’s Character Development of Beanie + Cover Art:
It is wonderful to see the dedication and joy she has for her career and her artistic process in illustrating children’s books from start to finish. She is surely an inspiration for young readers and budding Illustrators alike who may one day become an artist like her, writing and illustrating their own stories.
“My advice for young budding illustrators would be to create your own simple story to illustrate, and illustrate it in your own style. There are many elements to consider, all of which help to tell the story to create excitement and impact on the reader.”
Lucy Smith also recommends that the best way to learn how to be a children’s book illustrator is to immersion yourself in books! Read your favorite children’s books, see how they are illustrated, really dive deep and pick out what works and maybe what doesn’t work. She believes in testing out different techniques, styles, and perspectives, using various tools and experiment a little, or a lot! That is key to developing your own, individual creative style.
Now for our Book Inspired Art Project…
Art Project: A Message in a Clay Moon
- Air Dry Clay
- Parchment paper or newspaper
- Duplo LEGO piece
- Butter knife
- Small bowl, or circle cookie cutter
- Release spray, Pam will do
- Rolling pin
- Sharp pencil
- Container with water
- A Copy of Nonni’s Moon by Julia Inserro + Lucy Smith
Method for making your own Message in a Clay Moon with your kids:
Gather your parchment paper, clay, butter knife, bowl, pencil, and rolling pin, and water in a container.
Roll out your clay into a flat sheet of clay.
Using our bowl or large circle cookie cutter, spray the inside with your release spray, or pam – this will help the clay come out easier! Flip it upside down to make circle moon shape.
Pop it out by simply tapping it on the table a few times. (Use the spray, and it slides right out!)
Cut out as many moons as you have children doing this project, and if you have older children, they may be able to roll and cut the shape themselves.
When you have your circles, you can choose if you want to have a full moon or another phase of the moon.
I cut one in the crescent shape as well.
Next comes the fun part, take your Duplo LEGO piece and make imprints like craters on the moon!
You will want to cut out a strip for your message, that you will send through the moon, to your loved one that lives far away, or your grandma gound the street!
Cut your message however long you want it to be, and say what you would like. Use your sharp pencil to etch the words into the clay. You may need to do this for your younger kiddos.
If you want to make your message look more rustic and interesting you could take some sort of material, like cloth, a knitted blanket, or lace and roll the impression into your clay. I choose an old baby blanket.
This is not necessarily something you must do, but it was fun to try. I liked the look it gave to the clay. NOTE- If making these during the Holiday Season, simply poke a hole in the top of the Moon, allow to dry, paint, and add some ribbon or string, and you have yourself a beautiful Christmas Tree Ornament to give to your Nonni or Grandparents!
In the end, my messages were a bit too long for the shape of my moons, so I trimmed them up, and shortened the message. If you made a larger moon, your message could easily be longer. Once your message is complete, flip it over, and add some water to the back, and press it down gently onto your moon, in your desired position. Imagine the message going into the moon.
And tada! You have created a beautiful keepsake, perfect for making after reading this beautiful storybook, Nonni’s Moon. In the end, I needed to work with my message length a bit more and rewrite my message for the one, but it so so adorable!
There you go! Allow your moons with love notes to dry, and paint with acrylic paint and send to the ones you love.
Til Next Time,
Breathe deeply and enjoy building your masterpiece with scissors and glue and clay moons too!
If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy one of these: