Saturday, June 8, 2024

Interview with author Aimee Lucido and Pasta Pasta Lotsa Pasta!

My internet is back...and so much better than before (thank you, StarLink!). Who knows? I might even be able to get my Youtube channel, The Hungry Bookworm, up and running that a three minute video won't take 6-8 hours to upload. Wouldn't that be something???

Anyway, I'm celebrating big time with a review and interview. Today's read comes from a very lovely author and promises to be tons of fun. But then, the topic is a good one—pasta! There's nothing like a good pasta, and this book promises to introduce many different types. Just one glance at the cover, and I'm already dreaming of Maultaschen ( a German treat). And guess what we're having for dinner? Lasagna with a layer of spinach and Bechamel sauce (I've never been a fan of ricotta). 

by Aimee Lucido
Illustrated by Mavisu Demirag
Beach Lane Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8


A family dinner gets out of hand as guest after guest arrives with a different pasta request in this rambunctious rhyming picture book. How much pasta is too much pasta?

Ring-a-ding, the doorbell rings, and oh! What did my Nonna bring? 

Nonna Ana from Catania only likes to eat lasagna. But Nonno Titi from Tahiti only eats his spaghettini! Zio Tony wants ravioli, Zia Trini wants rotini, the cugini want tortellini… Family dinners can be tricky when the guests are oh-so-picky! As the kitchen gets more and more chaotic, can family pasta night go off without a hitch?



Like a pasta parade explosion, this celebrates the various forms of the yummy food in a building chaos of delight.

Nonna has arrived, and that means lasagna is on the menu. While the child helps in the kitchen to make the delicious meal, another family member arrives at the door, and they would enjoy spaghettini. Two pasta are better than one, so it's off to prepare more. But then, the next person arrives. As more and more friends and family join the cooking fun, the pasta creation grows and grows. Everything looks delicious, but can so much pasta love really run smoothly?

This book starts out calm. A loved family member arrives, and the child is more than happy (and excited) to help cook. It's a lovely atmosphere from the get-go, and as each new person and pasta join the list, the joy and humor mount, too. Everyone is excited to pitch in. The happiness radiates from the page, although the reader will begin to wonder how all of this can be cooked at the same time. The pots and pans stack up with the growing chaos. Still, the author manages to let details surrounding the creation of each dish (and what the different ingredients are) slide in smoothly along with the fun. While it does get a little challenging to identify each pasta with the names as things grow more and more hectic, the appreciation for the many forms of pasta is clearly brought across.

The illustrations and text work well together and help keep everything balanced. While the text explains who has arrived, what pasta is being cooked, and (very briefly) how it's made, the illustrations let the humor and fun thrive. The illustrative style carries a choppier edge, which gives it a unique feel. It fits well with the growing chaos and brings across the emotions wonderfully. There are quite a few details to pick out, making this a book for listeners to pick up on their own and spend time taking in the scenes.

This makes a fun read-aloud and would also work well in group settings to a theme surrounding pasta. But it makes a great read for small pasta lovers at home, too.


I'm so excited to have you here today and already want to thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us. It's always fun to learn more about authors and how they got to their books.

I’m just going to start with the most obvious question: are you a pasta lover? Which is your favorite?

YES I am a pasta lover!! Is "lover" a big enough word?? Pasta is my favorite food group, and while it is nearly impossible to pick just one noodle shape as my singular favorite (I mean, can one choose a favorite child?), if I *had* to pick, I would say rotini. The spiral shape holds so much sauce, and it's also pretty!

I remember the first time someone explained to me about the purpose of those spirals (to hold sauce, obviously!). I thought it was so clever.

You’ve already published two middle grade novels, Emmy in the Key of Code and Recipe for Disaster. What inspired you to head toward a picture book next? How was the dive into the picture realm different or was it a very similar experience?

Actually, I wrote PASTA before I wrote either EMMY or RECIPE! Isn't publishing funny? 

I wrote the first draft of PASTA when I was still getting my MFA (back in 2016) and it was actually the first book that I sent to my now-agent, Kathleen Rushall, in my attempt to convince her to represent me. She really liked the book and requested more material from me, but she ended up passing because she felt she had enough clients on her roster at the time, and was closing to new queries. I took her interest as a sign that I was close to finally landing an agent, but put PASTA aside so I could focus on my middle grade projects. 

I wrote EMMY in 2017, and in 2018, that was the book that Kathleen read and loved enough to sign me. PASTA was still in the back of her head, though, and we went out with it later that year. In 2019, Simon & Schuster decided to buy it (yay!) but picture books can take a really long time to produce, so now, in 2024, nearly 8 years after I first drafted it, it's finally entering the world.

As far as the difference between picture books and novels, they really couldn't be more dissimilar for me. Novels tend to be projects that I work on for years and years, drafting slowly, revising as I go. I tend to do a lot of head-writing of a novel before I ever start typing, so the bar for me to sit down and draft a novel is quite high. But because picture books are so short, I often draft very quickly, as soon as I get an idea, and then decide if it has merit after it's been sketched out. This means that I have a whole lot of half-finished, discarded picture book texts in folders on my computer that will never see the light of day, and that's not as true for my novels.

Wow! Eight years is a long time. I had no idea that picture books could take that long to hit the shelves. But writing does include quite a few struggles.
What is your favorite part about writing? And what would you rather eat worms than do?

My favorite part about writing is that my own words can surprise me. A lot of people think of authors as puppet masters who know exactly what is going to happen in their book before they write it, but the best writing moments feel almost like magic. Those are the moments where I expect the story to go in one direction, but suddenly, out of nowhere, I find myself typing something totally different, completely unplanned, and yet strangely perfect. It's times like those that make me feel like my stories come from somewhere outside of me, and I'm just the conduit. Gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

And I'm not sure about eating worms, but I realllllllly can't stand doing my taxes. Also trimming my daughter's nails. She hates it, and I feel like a monster. The worst!

Maybe another picture book idea? But then, what were your favorite books while growing up?

I absolutely adored middle grade fantasy when I was a kid. Matilda, The Golden Compass, and The Harry Potter series, all were read over and over and over again in my household. I even named my daughter Lyra after the main character in The Golden Compass, but we pronounce it Lee-rah instead of Lie-rah because that's how I pronounced it as a 12-year-old reading the trilogy on repeat. I just loved how these stories made me feel like my world was bigger than the things I encountered everyday. It gave me a sense of wonder over the most mundane objects (a broomstick, a wardrobe, a knife) and made me think that maybe *I* might be special enough to witness the real-life magic that I had only read about in books.

I hope you find that magic someday. I'm still searching for a jar of pixie dust myself. I guess writing is a way to touch that magic. When you aren’t illustrating or writing, what do you like to do? 

These days, my time is split between writing books and making crossword puzzles. I've been making crosswords ever since I was in college and had my first puzzle published in the New York Times, and every year since then I've made more puzzles than the year before. Now, I've published twelve puzzles for the New York Times, I'm on staff for both the New Yorker crossword and AVCX (an indie puzzle publication), and I make one-off commissioned puzzles for everything from alumni newspapers to corporate product launches to marriage proposals. One time I made a crossword puzzle for John Green's book tour for Turtles All the Way Down! 

Another obsession of mine over the past few years has been trivia. I participate in way too many online trivia leagues, I edit a biweekly trivia game for AVCX, and one of my life-long dreams is to be a Jeopardy champion. I love how trivia makes me more aware of the world around me, and it gives me the most amazing feeling when something I learned through trivia comes up in my daily life. I'm full of "did you know" fun facts, and I'm firmly convinced they make me a blast to hang out with at parties. People LOVE to hear about Academy Award Best Picture winners from the 1930's, right??

What was your biggest wish as a child?

I wanted magic powers just like Matilda. Still waiting, but I haven't given up hope!

And what about your favorite snack? (Yes, I might be a tad bit hungry while asking you these questions.)

Oh this is so hard because I love food and will eat almost anything, but I think right now my favorite snack is yogurt with mixed-in chocolate chips. I like the crunch and the sweetness of chocolate chips, and the yogurt is high in both protein and calcium while also being a very filling snack!

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! It was really fun to learn more about you...and now, I'm craving yogurt with crunch, so it's off to the fridge!

And here they are...

Aimee Lucido is the author of several books for kids, including Emmy in the Key of Code, Recipe for Disaster, and Pasta Pasta Lotsa Pasta. She got her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Hamline University and lives with her family in Berkeley, California, where she likes to do trivia, run, and write crossword puzzles.

Mavisu Demirag is an artist living in Izmir, Turkey. She graduated from Dokuz Eylul University with a degree in fashion design, but later turned her sights to her true passion: illustration. She is the illustrator of picture books including Pasta Pasta Lotsa Pasta by Aimee Lucido and many books published in Turkey and internationally.

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