Children’s Book Review: Older By Emmanuella Macri
Lily dreams of being older, but is growing up all she thinks it will be?
Parents and children alike can relate t this story about embracing the now.
If I had a dollar for every time, I told my kids to stop trying to grow up so fast I would be rich. I don’t know about you, but kids are always in a hurry to grow up ( I was one of those kids too). I wish I could go back to the times when my biggest worry was what to play at recess? Or could go back to the days when the hardest test was the spelling test every Friday. What I would give to be a kid again!
Being a kid is one of the most beloved phases of life and should be cherished. Whenever my children laugh so hard that they fall to the floor, read bedtime stories with us and get tucked into bed tight, or get lost in their little make-believe games, I am reminded of the preciousness of childhood. It is such a great feeling to be reminded of what is so remarkable about being a kid.
A children’s book that I love reading to my kids about embracing their childhood is, Older by Emmanuella Macri. In this wonderfully illustrated rhyming book, Lily wants to grow up. She is not able to do a lot of the thing that others can do, such as ride a bike, lose a tooth, or ride the big rides at the fair. Just like many kids Lily’s age, she feels like she is missing all the fun. But is she?
At the end of the story, Lily realizes a crucial lesson that by wishing she was older, she lost out on all the joy that childhood brings. Lily realizes that she needs to make each memory last and embrace the now. I love that this book is so relatable not only for kids but also for adults.
I also love that this book focuses on a meaningful message to live in the moment and live every day to the fullest. Macri does a beautiful job depicting the story through the characters in her story and does a superb job portraying Lily’s feelings in the pictures. Older by Emmanuella Macri is the perfect book to add to your bookshelf. You will find your self re-reading it over and over again!
Where Can I Find Older By Emmanuella Macri
About the Author, Emmanuella Macri
“Emmanuella Macri was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in central New Jersey. She has enjoyed reading, writing, and drawing since she was young. She originally began writing and illustrating Older, her first book, at age 17 as a class assignment. Currently, she’s 19 years old and a student at Rutgers University.”
Rapid Fire with Emmanuella Macri
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Emmanuella: I’ve loved to read since I was a little kid and was always interested in becoming a writer. I used to come up with story ideas and write them down so I wouldn’t forget them. Once I got a little older, I started to lose interest in writing. However, in high school, I took a class that required me to create a book. After the class was over, I decided I wanted to publish my work, and that class assignment became Older.
Q. What advice do you have for writers?
Emmanuella: I think the most important thing for someone looking to write a book is just to get started. I’ve heard so many people tell me that they’ve always wanted to publish a book but just never got around to it. I think it seems like a very daunting task at the beginning—there’s a lot of components to consider! But once you start, it becomes easier to manage. Simply writing an outline down on paper instead of thinking about it in your head already makes the task seem simpler.
Q. Tell us about your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years
Emmanuella: I’m still unsure of what I would like to do in the future. I’m 19 years old right now, so I’m at the point where I need to decide on a career path. I’m considering becoming an elementary school teacher because I love to work with kids and doing that would allow me to have a lot of time off from work during which I can pursue personal projects—like writing more children’s books.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Emmanuella: When I’m not writing, I love to do art. I especially love to make collages out of old magazines, do hand-lettering, and take photos. I also really like to be active, so I often go for walks, ride my bike, and take fitness classes at the gym. I also love to spend time with my family and my baby cousins.
Q. What type of books do you write?
Emmanuella: So far, I’ve just written one book, Older, which is a rhyming picture book. I hope to write more picture books in the future because I love children and I like being able to do both writing and illustrations. In my free time, I also like to write poems and short stories. Perhaps one day I’ll turn them into books as well.
Q. What does your creative process look like?
Emmanuella: The first step in the process for me is to come up with an idea. Usually, I can’t force myself to think of an idea; it has to arise naturally. I usually have a picture in my head of what type of mood I want the book to have. For Older, I envisioned a book that reminded people of childhood—a simple character design, soft colors, rhyming words. I first created the main character, Lily, and drew how I wanted her to look. Next, I drafted out the text of the book. The text went through a few rounds of edits until I was happy with it. Since my book is a picture book, I made a storyboard that paired lines of text with my ideas for images. Then, I set to work on the illustrations. Finally, I chose things like fonts and text placement and designed the cover and back cover of the book.
Q. Can you tell us about one of the most rewarding moments you have had as an author?
Emmanuella: My favorite thing is to interact with children. It’s so rewarding to me when I see a child responding well to my book. I was selling my books outside a little bookshop in Manasquan, NJ, and I had two children approach me who had come to see me and my book. I read the book to them, and they were following along and asking me questions. They were so sweet, and it was so rewarding for me to see children relating to my book and the main character, Lily.
Q. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Emmanuella: Older centers around Lily, and her daydreams of being older. The story culminates in Lily becoming an adult and realizing all she missed out on while constantly wishing to be older. I’m hoping that the book will remind children and parents alike about the importance of living in the now. Ever since I was a young girl, I always wished to be older, which made me unappreciative of many parts of my life. I wanted to use my experience to encourage others to be mindful of all the great parts of their life as they are going through them—not just their childhood, but their adulthood, too.
Q. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Emmanuella: My own life and experiences very much inspire Older. The things Lily does, like drawing with chalk outside, riding bikes, and going to the fair, are all things that I did during my childhood. Plus, the character design is inspired by people in my own life, with Lily looking a lot like me. Also, the message of the book is based on my dreams of being older throughout my childhood, and the realization that it’s best to live in the now.
Q. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Emmanuella: Even though my book is intended for children, I hear a lot of responses from adults who connected to my book. Many people have said that they can completely relate to the main character, Lily. They can connect to her feelings of wanting to be older, and then longing to rewind time once they grow up.
A Little More About The Illustrations
Q. Can you describe the artistic process behind your illustration creations?
Emmanuella: For the illustrations in Older, I started with character design. I tried out some different ideas for the main character, Lily, until I finally settled on what I wanted her to look like. Then I went page by page and drew out each picture in pencil. Once I was happy with an image, I went over the pencil in thin black marker. I used watercolor paint to fill in the colors. Next, I scanned each image onto my computer and used photoshop to touch up imperfections and correct colors. Along with the physical drawing and painting, I also put a lot of consideration into how each page interacted with the rest of the pages in the book. I wanted to include a blend of different types of pictures—some pages fully covered with color, some pages with close-ups of just Lily’s face, some with many smaller images floating in the white space of the page, etc.
Q. Are there any illustrators that have inspired the way you approach your illustrative work?
Emmanuella: I love the illustrations in the book Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham, which was one of my favorite books growing up. They’re very simple yet whimsical and so cute. I used her illustrations as inspiration for my drawings. I also follow a lot of artists on Instagram whose art I adore, such as gorkiegork, revelatori, and drawingolive, among many others. These artists create art that celebrates imperfections. I was inspired by them to allow my illustrations to be imperfect.
Q. Which page was the most fun to illustrate?
Emmanuella: The most fun—and challenging—page to illustrate was the two-page spread of the carnival scene. It has the most detail and color in it. I’ve heard from some young readers that it’s their favorite page too because it has so much to look at.
Q. Did you draw as a child?
Emmanuella: I loved to draw when I was a child. My favorite thing to do was to draw on my driveway outside with chalk. I especially loved to draw people. I also really liked to look at book covers and try to draw the characters from them. I also loved going to art class in school.
Q. What were your favorite books growing up?
Emmanuella: My favorite book when I was a child was The Blue Ribbon Day by Katie Couric. I loved the message in it as well as the colorful illustrations and rhyming story. I was also a big fan of Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham and any book by Patricia Polacco or Kevin Hankes. There are so many other books that I loved and still, love as well—too many to list here!
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All in all, my family and I have really enjoyed this book and we know you will too! Please feel free to leave me any comments or questions about this review. I look forward to hearing from you!
* This book was kindly sent to me by Author, Emmanuella in exchange for an honest review.