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Sunday Spotlight: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vergara

Hi Maria Isabel! Welcome to The Christmas Edit. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

¡Hola! My name is Maria Isabel Sánchez Vergara and I'm a creator, author and writer. I started writing children's books a week after my twin nephews were born and I just realised I want to keep doing this for the rest of my life. Besides that, I like yoga, cacti and dungarees. I work as a creative director for a big advertising agency (hopefully not for much longer...) and I live happily in Barcelona with Dirk my German boyfriend.

We are big fans of your Little People Big Dreams collection of books, where did the idea come from to write them?

Everything started with my twin nieces, Alba and Claudia. Right before they were born, I discovered many great children books for Ernest, my oldest nephew. They were full of brave and enthusiastic boys ready to conquer the world. But… it seemed to me that things were slightly different when I looked for female references and I decided to change that. I wanted to show them real characters with strength, courage and enough imagination to believe in their dreams, to make them come true. And suddenly great women I admire like Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo and Amélia Earhart came to my mind. Of course male characters will have a place in the collection one day but… ladies first.

I truly believe children are sponges absorbing the world around them. We, as adults, are responsible for the world we put in front of their noses.

Do you have a favourite from the series? And will you be adding more?

To me they are all special. Every new title is like starting all over again. One of my favourite parts of the process is searching for the perfect illustrator, the one that will bring to life the next character. So far I’ve worked with Ana Albero, Gee Fan Eng, Amaia Arrazola, Maria Diamantes, Elisa Munsó and Frau-Isa. And all of them put so much passion on the project that every new title is my favourite, at least until the next one comes out.

Are there any new projects you might be working on that you are allowed to tell us about?

Yeah! There are new titles from Little People BIG DREAMS coming out soon. Some have already been published in Spanish, like Audrey Hepburn, Agatha Christie and Marie Curie. Some will be released in the next months. Together with Barbara Alca, an illustrator from Barcelona, we are about to publish Ella Fitgerald’s story in Spanish and I’m also working on Dian Fossey’s bio, with Italian illustrator Alessandra de Cristofaro.

Besides that, I just published three new books in Spanish: POESÍA, a book that encourages children to write their own poems. OM, the story of a wild boy who loves practicing yoga and NO PANTIES IN THE DRAWER, a weird, small and pink book for adults full of micro poems about love illustrated by Amaia Arrazola.

So, of course we love a bit of Christmas chat here at The Christmas Edit we would love to know....

How will you be spending Christmas this year?

Hopefully reading books to Ernest, Alba, Claudia and Eder, my niece and nephews. They grow really fast and I don’t want to miss a minute with them.

Do you have a favourite Christmas children's book?

I adore The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien. A collection of letters written and illustrated by Tolkien for his children. He started writing them when his oldest son John was three and continued until little Priscilla turned fourteen. That’s more than 20 years keeping the magic alive! I just find the book incredible and the whole story amazing.

Any Christmas traditions?

In Catalonia we have this weird tradition that I believe doesn’t exist anywhere else: a week before Christmas, this funky looking wooden trunk with a red hat (we call him Caga Tió, literally “The Poo Uncle”) appears at the living room and kids feed him till Christmas Eve. That day, children hit the trunk with a stick as they sing a traditional song. At some point the trunk “defecates” a present. Quite scatological…

Any memorable Christmas disasters?

Besides the classic three kilos more on the scale… nothing dramatic enough to be recalled as a disaster.

And of course what's your favourite Christmas film?

There are three movies I have to watch every year for Christmas to be Christmas: Gremlins, The Nightmare before Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of anyone of them.

Thanks so much for your time and we wish you a lovely Christmas!!

Thanks to you and… Feliz Navidad to everyone!

#MariaIsabelSanchezVergara #LittlePeopleBigDreams #Childrensbooks #giftideas #interview #SundaySpotlight