Meena’s Mindful Moment by Tina Athaide and Åsa Gilland

Hello, Tina Athaide! Hello, Åsa Gilland! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for stopping by to discuss Meena’s Mindful Moment.

Tina Athaide: Thank you for having us and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that you are hosting the cover reveal of our picture book.

I'm grateful you're here today. Please tell us three things about Meena.

Tina Athaide: Ooooo, what a wonderful question, John.

So Meena...

1. … welcomes each day by leaping into whatever adventure awaits.

2. … loves sharing these adventures with her grandfather.

3. … takes her imaginative rambunctious hurly-burly hullabaloo wherever she goes.

Åsa, I love the beautiful textures and vibrant colors you use in the art. Please tell us a little about your process of working on Meena’s Mindful Moment.

Åsa Gilland: Usually the toughest part with starting is to find the right characters for a story. I start out doing rough character sketches and then there is usually a process of developing them. With Meena’s Mindful Moment we ended up going with our very first version of Meena and her grandfather. I just felt I knew what they looked like the moment I read the script.

I do everything from sketching to final illustrations on an iPad using Procreate. Because of file size limits, I create the layout in many little segments that I later combine in Photoshop. For texture I use a lot of scanned in material and sketches to layer on.

Tina, I love Meena’s relationship with her grandfather. As someone who was very close to their grandparents, I always have a soft spot for strong relationships between characters and their grandparents. Is Meena’s grandfather based on someone you know?

Tina: You guessed spot on, John!

Meena’s grandfather is based on my own grandfather. When I was six, my family visited Goa, India. In the afternoons, my grandfather would take me for a walk through the village and we’d visit some of the same places that Meena goes with her grandfather. If I’m quite honest, I think I brought my own imaginary hurly-burly hullabaloo on those walks and Grandpa patiently welcomed it on our adventures. I loved writing this story and capturing those memories with Grandpa.

Åsa, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Tina Athaide’s manuscript for Meena’s Mindful Moment is heartwarming, positive and vibrant. Her language is so vivid and descriptive and just feels very joyful and warm. I love her idea of creating a character, the hurly-burly-hullaballoo, to symbolize Meena’s exhurbant energy and how she tackles mindfulness in such a fresh, new way. I wish I had this book when my sons were younger. Although not the main focus of the story, getting to illustrating a book set in Asia was such a delight. Though I am originally from Sweden, I’ve lived in Indonesia half of my life, my husband and children are Indonesian, and though the cultures of India and Indonesia are obviously very different and I could draw a lot from colours and atmosphere. I hope kids, parents and grandparents will enjoy Tina’s lovely story it as much as I’ve enjoyed illustrating it.

Picture books are a window to another world. In the same way that you get to create the world you want to live in when you illustrate, you also get to share that world through a picture book. I love how you can communicate complex ideas in a simple, emotional and intuitive way, through the combination of words and images.

Picture books are also uniquely interactive and reading together is such a lovely way to bond. Both my dad and grandmother read extensively with me as a child. It was such a treat to go to the library and pick out books to read together and it definitely laid a huge foundation in a love for both art and storytelling.

Tina, please finish the following sentence starters:

Åsa Gilland’s illustrations bring my characters and the world around them to life, with hidden treats that go beyond the text. They are filled with movement, joy, and warmth. This is my first picture book and I had no idea what to expect, but when those initial sketches and designs arrived in my inbox, I was in awe of Åsa’s work. I laughed, I shed tears, and I celebrated. She captured the heart of my characters in a way I’d only imagined.

Story is the unique way we connect and relate to the people in our everyday lives. But if you take those experiences that you remember, and create and imagine, something magical happens—storytelling.

Tina Athaide is an educator and the author of middle grade novel Orange for the Sunsets (HarperCollins), and multiple easy leveled readers. Born in Uganda, she grew up in London and Canada. She now lives in California with her husband, Ron, and their daughter, Isabella.

Åsa Gilland works in graphic design, packaging design and illustration. She has illustrated multiple picture books, including Flibbertigibbety Words (Page Street Kids). Originally from Sweden, she has lived in Indonesia for over twenty years.

Look for Meena's Mindful Moment on October 5, 2021.

Page Street Kids' Description:

After her excitement spins out of control in slapstick comedic scenes kids will love, an energetic young girl discovers how to calm down and be present in the moment.

Meena is excited to visit Dada and explore all the exciting sights and sensations of his home with him. But Meena has so much energy, it becomes a whole imaginary character she calls her hurly-burly hullabaloo. Wherever Meena goes, her hurly-burly hullabaloo goes too. Together they’re never calm, as they run and cartwheel and make a lot of noise!

When Meena makes a mess, her grandfather is there to teach her how to handle it with deep breaths and meditative poses—after all, he has a hurly-burly hullabaloo too.

With vibrant art and engaging characters (real and imagined), this charming story all about mindfulness will be wonderfully relatable to anyone with a rambunctious hurly-burly hullabaloo of their own.


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