I ask a lot of my kids.
I ask them to read manuscripts and give me feedback. I ply them (and their friends) with questions about the age-appropriateness of certain (sometimes embarrassing) grade school behaviors. I make them stop what they’re doing to write down a story idea when I’m elbow-deep in potting soil or cooking dinner and can’t jot the idea down myself.
They put up with all of it, as I imagine most offspring of children’s book writers do—and I’m grateful.
Recently though, I asked a doozy. “Um, girls, how do you feel about standing in a hot kitchen in the middle of summer for four hours while strangers film you cracking an egg over and over?”
Well, of course I didn’t say it like that.
It was more like, “Guess what?! You get to be on YouTube! Eating cake!”
As it happened, the experience was much closer to the latter than the former. With the help of a brilliant group of filmmakers—writer/ producer/director Leigh Medeiros, cinematographer JJ Rok, and sound tech Tebello Rose—we created a little piece of art, for our little piece of art.
Baking Day at Grandma’s is a very personal story. It’s based on memories of my Grandma Rose, as well as the baking traditions my mom began with our girls. The art is inspired by the Adirondack region of New York, specifically Lake George, where I spent summers as a child. Each spread contains a nod to our families—Grandma Bear’s cabin, little bits of her furniture, the cookbook she reads, her Victrola—are all artifacts drawn from special people and places in our lives. As we set out to make the book trailer, we hoped to capture the personal nature of the story, to let readers know that like Grandma Rosie’s chocolate cake—the book was made with love.
When the day of the shoot came, I felt confident in our vision. Doing her due diligence as a documentarian, Leigh spent a great deal of time getting to know the story behind the book. She’d browsed old photos with me, and listened as I recounted memories of baking with my grandma. She didn’t wanted to over-script it. We had a shot list and some talking points, but the real gems were going to be found in the unscripted moments.
If I had one concern going into the day, it was about the kids. Would they freeze up? Look at the camera too much? Get grumpy? Especially my little one. She’s three and generally well behaved, but…um… she’s three.
Both Leigh and JJ did a wonderful job making the kids (and all of us) feel comfortable. When I asked for some direction before we began, Leigh smiled and said to me, “Just bake a cake, and don’t worry about us.” I wasn’t sure it would be possible, with the lights and the big boom mic and the camera pointing at us, but to my amazement, once the measuring and the mixing began, we did sort of forget about the camera. I was a mom, baking with my kids. It was fun! And messy. Flour dusted every surface. There were egg shells in the sink and splatters of chocolate cake batter on our aprons. But it was the real deal, not the scrubbed up version. (Ok, I admit, I cleaned my house for two days before the crew arrived.)
The kids did so well. And now, in addition to a lovely book trailer, I have a little time capsule to help me remember the sounds, spills, giggles, bloopers and joy of baking with my girls.
It’s really a pleasure to share this heartfelt collaboration with the you. Thanks for cheering us on, spreading the word, and making the homestretch of this book’s journey to publication so delicious! I’ll say thank you in every way I can think of, including offering FREE baking day recipe card templates and gift tags, so you can host your own baking day at home, or make a special treat with grandparents for Grandparent’s Day (September 7th).
For bookstores, libraries, classrooms and home-schoolers, I’ll soon be adding a downloadable Story Hour Kit to my website, which includes a Baking Day at Grandma’s song (composed and recorded by my talented friends at Little Hands) reading prompts, activities, posters, crafts, snack suggestions—everything you’ll need to get kids reading, dancing, singing and connecting with the book!
For bloggers, I’ll have an extra-special Baking Day at Grandma’s giveaway (to be revealed soon)!
I hope you’ll stay tuned as we cook (and bake) up new goodies and giveaways. (One great way to keep up to date and connected is to join my new mailing list.)
Until then, happy reading and baking! Here’s a peek at the book trailer. . .