Berkeley, CA, US
Quote: “I loved playing with the mix of fantastical inventions and real ones. I hope kids will start logbooks to record their own creations.”
Marissa Moss grew up in a home where reading was a central part of daily life. “We went to the library every week,” she says. “Once I opened a book, I felt compelled to finish it. I was drawn into a world and I had to know what would happen, how it would end.” As a child, she constantly told herself stories and drew pictures. She loved the way stories allowed her to make things happen the way she wanted them to happen.
Although Marissa started her career making picture books, when she published Amelia's Notebook she stumbled upon a format that let her write and draw the way she did as a child. “More than conventional picture books,” Marissa says, “the notebook format allows me to leap from words to images, and this free-flowing back-and-forth inspires my best work. It reflects the way I think - sometimes visually, sometimes verbally - with the pictures not there just to illustrate the text but to replace it, to tell their own story.” The character of Amelia is based on herself. “My memories of being nine or ten years old are especially vivid,” she states, “since this is the time when you have a real sense of who you are - before the self-conscious preteen years start.”
For Marissa's latest title, Max's Logbook, she takes inspiration not from herself but from her son Elias. When Marissa's husband was diagnosed with a fatal neuromuscular disease, she wanted to give Elias, then 10 years old, something positive on which to focus. Elias had also been urging his mother to write a book of experiments and inventions for a number of years. In Max's Logbook, Max, a budding scientist, is struggling to adjust to his parents impending divorce. He attempts to invent new ways to keep his family together, but he can't keep his parents from separating. Instead he invents a new kind of family, and Marissa hopes to do the same with her own children.
Elias helped Marissa with the different experiments and inventions in the book by sharing his scientific logbooks from the many classes he took at a local science museum. Marissa also wanted to create a toy-like invention she could use in the comic strips she created for the book. She noticed Elias playing with a coffee can full of army and alien erasers and he explained to her the different military and extraterrestrial abilities of the erasers. To Marissa, they were so clever and cute; she knew she had found the ultimate Max invention. And thus, the birth of the Alien Eraser.
Marissa Moss is the author and illustrator of over 20 books for children, including the popular Amelia's Notebook series. She lives in Berkeley, California with her three children.