I have been on a search for a children’s book like this. My son is completely in love with it. When he was younger, he LOVED veggies. He would pick butternut squash over apples any day. It’s a much different story now, he is an extremely picky eater. If it’s not sweet or a sandwich, he doesn’t want it! We haven’t had this book long, but my son has already memorized most of the words. He starts chanting ‘CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH’ before I can even turn the page. The illustrations are insanely adorable, or as my son says ‘ohh that’s pretty!’. I’m quickly working this book into our at home pre-school lessons. In my opinion, Veggie Rhapsody: I want you in my Lunch! by Ray Anthony James is a fun, catchy, and educational children’s book. Even now, I find myself chanting this book around the house. I would recommend Veggie Rhapsody to anyone with children in their house, even if their children aren’t a picky eaters. This children’s book won’t disappoint!
I would like to thank you for doing a Q&A with me today! Could you start us off with a little bit about yourself?
Alisha, I want to first thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.
I was born in the countryside in Jamaica and shortly before my 17th birthday my family emigrated to America. I had always dreamed of coming to America, “The Land of Endless Opportunity”. My dream did not end there. On my 18th birthday, I packed up all my possessions into a rather large, brown suitcase and went to Knox College. By 1997, I graduated from Indiana University with a graduate degree in Organic Chemistry. Today I live in Maryland with my wife, two children Milo and Amari and one of the fattest cats you will ever see.
What was your inspiration in writing Veggie Rhapsody ?
My wife and I are very healthy eaters. I have always been alarmed at the statistics showing the US population being so overweight and stricken with so many diet-related diseases. One morning I was making lunch for my precious daughter, Amari. I would always place a few veggies for her to crunch on. On this particular morning, she was being very picky when I told her that it would be celery and carrots. She turned to me and said, “You always put these crunchy things in my lunch!” And from that innocent comment, Veggie Rhapsody: I want you in my Lunch! was born.
What was your favorite book as a child?
We did not have many books to read in the hills of Jamaica. I read everything I could get my hands on. Comics such as Archie and the Phantom were my first love. Arabian Nights was another favorite of mine.
Did you like to write as a child?
In all truthfulness I was not a writer as a child, although I loved to draw and paint. Writing has always been hard for me. Lately, though I have been enjoying this new-found love immensely.
What is your favorite book now?
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
I am unable to separate these two favorites. I guess if I had to choose it would have to be Jeff Olsen’s book since I read it first. It was love at first read and really helped me to make progress on publishing this first work of mine.
Are do you have another book in the works?
Yes, I have four other books whose manuscripts have been written. I am waiting for my Illustrator (my niece!) to finish her senior year in high school to complete these.
How long did it take you to write Veggie Rhapsody?
This may come as a surprise, it took me about 5 minutes to write. After that, weeks and weeks to refine, lol.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am reading, thinking about ways to teach children about positive choices, playing with and teaching my kids. And you can always find me in the kitchen fixing a Jamaican inspired meal – with lots of veggies, of course. I also like to go on walks in the woods with my family.
When did you decide to start writing?
I had that one moment of inspiration from my daughter’s words. Somehow, that opened a flood-gate on my creativity and I have written many stories since then. I think that at my last count I was up to twenty-eight stories. I am finally enjoying the process of writing, and helping young minds to make positive choices is very rewarding for me.
What do your Children think about the book?
My children are singing the book on daily basis – even my 1 1/2 year old! They love it!
What is your goal as a children’s book author?
To reach as many children as possible and bring the positive messages outlined in my books to their eyes and ears so that they can learn to make choices that will have a positive effect on their lives and well-being for as long as they live.
In my own curiosity, what is that blue veggie? I am Stumped!
It is BLUE CORN. Look closely, you will see the individual kernels of the corn. This was done intentionally since blue corn is not actually blue – but the CHIPS ARE! (smiles)