Welcome, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts ... and a special big welcome to all those ghoulishly-great bakers out there! We have a delicious treat for you today. The incredibly talented Laura Lavoie is with us sharing her and Vanessa Morales's new book, Monster Baker. Tillie has the most BOO-rillant idea for her Grandmonster's 247th birthday. She's going to bake her a cake! Only, she encounters some challenges and has a mishap...or three. Will Tillie be able to make the perfect cake for the occasion, or will her plan backfire? Want to know more about Laura and her new book, PLUS want a chance to win an amazing treat for the season? Read on...
Q: Hi, Laura! Thanks so much for Trick-or-Treating with #SeasonsOfKidLit again. We’re thrilled to have you back with us and hear all about your new book, Monster Baker. Readers, if you missed Laura’s interview last year, make sure to check it out here.
Monster Baker looks like so much fun! Can you share a little about the inspiration behind the story?
A: Hi and thank you for having me! I came up with the idea for Monster Baker after reading a post on Tara Lazar’s Storystorm blog that encouraged participants to explore fun mashups. For example, pairing something scary with something super silly. I wrote down several ideas, including monsters + cupcakes.
I really liked that idea, but I had to figure out what to do with it. I love watching baking shows, so initially I was thinking about a baking competition with monsters baking various ghoulish creations, and that’s the direction earlier drafts of the story took. My now-editor, Luisa Beguiristain at Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan, asked for an R&R and encouraged me to explore how the main character, Tillie, discovered her love of baking. That made me think of my own love of baking, which came from baking pies and cookies with various family members as a kid. The story took off from there and became the final version you’ll see in the book, which celebrates family along with baking and, of course, monsters.
Q: Tillie has a boo-rilliant idea to make a birthday cake for her Grandmonster’s 247th birthday, however she encounters a lot of bumps and mishaps along the way. Can you tell us more about those and what we can expect to see Tillie bake? What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
A: Tillie is inspired by her grandmonster’s favorite TV personality pastry chef, Pierre du Monstere, so she tries to make one of his recipes for Grandmonster’s birthday. But then a hungry family member eats it, and Tillie is dismayed. In her rush to bake a second cake, she encounters the typical kinds of mishaps any flustered baker might experience, like measuring ingredients incorrectly and forgetting to turn the oven on.
The idea was to show kids that it’s okay to make mistakes–it happens to the best of us. And even if you don’t get to serve your perfect Squirmin’ Chocolate Cake and wind up baking a Clawberry Snortcake made with random ingredients you found around the kitchen, it will be okay.
Also, if you buy or borrow the book, you can bake some Chocolate Cherry Scaries, which are chocolate cookies with maraschino cherries and white chocolate chips. I came up with the recipe years ago and it's my kids’ favorite, so we included it in the back of the book!
Q: Monster Baker sounds like a blast - and a perfect read for this or any season. We can’t wait to check it out! What other books of yours can we checkout soon?
A: In 2024, my first rhyming picture book, Duck, Duck, Taco Truck, is coming out from Doubleday. Frances Gilbert edited the book and Teresa Martinez has done some of the most fun illustrations I’ve ever seen!
In the story, two ducks have a taco truck at the beach, which they always park at the same spot. But one day, a goose shows up with his own food truck and tries to take over their turf. What follows is a food-slinging battle royale with lots of rhyming foods (think curly fries and pizza pies) and an underlying message about teamwork.
Q: Ducks and Taco Trucks? Count us in!
You are excellent with puns which seem easy to come up with but are actually quite difficult to pull off successfully. Can you share tips on creating puns?
A: I tend to use a lot of puns and wordplay in my books, and I get asked a lot how I come up with all the puns. The answer is: I make lists! For Monster Baker, I made a list of desserts and a list of words you might associate with a monster, like slime, scream, boo, etc. That’s how I came up with the desserts on this spread:
In Duck, Duck, Taco Truck, I wrote down words you might associate with ducks or geese and tried to sprinkle them throughout. That’s how I came up with some of my favorite lines, including this one:
“I can hardly handle things… sure could use some extra wings. Didn’t mean to ruffle feathers. Maybe we could work together?”
Q: Excellent advice - thanks for sharing! What's your favorite thing about Halloween and/or fall?
A: Oh gosh, just ONE favorite thing? I love going for hikes when the leaves have changed colors. I live in northern New York, near the Adirondack mountains, and we get beautiful foliage here.
But I also love all things spooky, including decorating my house for Halloween, watching Halloween-themed movies, and, of course, baking spooky treats. I probably shouldn’t say this, being the author of a vampire book and a monster book, but… I love witches. Give me all the witch things: spellbooks, potions, black cats, broomsticks. My kids and I always bake up some witch hat cupcakes. I’m obsessed.
Q: BONUS QUESTION: What candy pairs the best with your book?
The candy that pairs best with the book would definitely be a cherry-flavored Tootsie Pop. The flavor profile is similar to Chocolate Cherry Scaries–the recipe you can find in the back of the book. And I personally love Tootsie Pops, especially cherry and grape.
Thanks again for joining us today, Laura! We can't wait to read all about Tillie and the super fun Ducks and Taco Trucks headed our way!
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: A Treat! I'd like to offer a signed copy of Monster Baker to one lucky winner.
Thanks for such a fang-tastic treat!
Contest Details: To enter to win a signed copy of Monster Baker, 1) share this post on social media and 2) leave a comment below to let Laura know why you can't wait to check out her books! Monster GIFs are always appreciated and welcomed. ;)
#SeasonsOfKidLit's Trick-or-Treat Winners will be chosen on or about November 5th.
*Books will be shipped in the US only*
Note: Those who leave a comment on all posts will be eligible to win one (1) of ten (10) Rate Your Story Speed Passes, perfect for quick MS feedback, provided by Agent Mentee Lynne Marie & Author Heather Macht.
About Laura Lavoie:
Laura Lavoie is the author of Duck Duck Taco Truck, Vampire Vacation, and Monster Baker. She loves cooking big meals for her family, which is probably why she keeps writing books about food. Laura lives in upstate New York with her husband and daughters.
For more about Laura, check out the below links:
For more about Vanessa Morales, check out the below links:
To purchase Laura's books on Amazon, or to leave a review for them, click here.
A special thanks to David Rodriguez Lorenzo for the amazing custom-signatures!