We’d like to introduce you to Masha’s Latest picture book “A Garden in Your Belly: Meet the Microbes in Your Gut” through our author Q&A!
Growing up, my family moved a lot and in different configurations (I’m talking neighborhoods first and continents later). Staying in touch with friends and family in those pre-social media days was everything. One of my favorite things to do was to send drawings of things I observed or ideas I had along with my letters. This led me to make illustrations and put together stories and that’s what I still do!
What was your inspiration for this book?
Me, as the little girl suffering from severe food allergies, anxiety and stomach aches. That kid could really use some ideas on regulating her well-being all those years ago. Also, since childhood I’ve been into miniatures and the idea of worlds within worlds. Our planet is part of a vast cosmos. We’re all part of this earth. We, in turn, have worlds within us. Similarly, a microbe has a world inside itself, as does each cell. I love that we can go smaller and smaller in the style of the Russian doll “Matryoshka.”
Is this book fact or fiction?
It’s art based on science. I always had an interest in nerdy things I could hardly unravel, probably because I’m a child of a scientist (who loves to paint) and an artist (who loves studying nature).
Where did the visual world come from?
It’s a huge challenge to depict a mind-blowing universe, even if microbial. My approach was to tap into the beginner’s mind, to forget the visuals typical of this subject matter. I let my imagination run so that the young reader could picture their own biology in a fun, non-clinical way. But some art history inspiration is definitely peeking through the illustrations. Can you see it?
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Hopefully, the book will engage the reader with fun details and visual surprises long enough to encourage good habits in kids and their adults!
Please briefly describe the theme of your book and its scope.
The human microbiome is not only a fascinating world of its own, it’s vitally important to every aspect of our lives. You are what you eat, after all.
Please summarize your book.
A Garden In Your Belly takes an imaginative look into the wondrous relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms we host, the microbes we call the microbiota. These tiny creatures play a huge role in whether we are sick or healthy, fit or sluggish, sunny or moody. Young readers can picture the mind-blowing microbial world inside as a journey through an adventure-filled landscape and learn some amazing science in an actionable, user-friendly way. Every kid can get excited about nourishing their tiny inner helpers or “pets” that play such an important role in their well-being. The well-nourished microbiome will in turn offer them protection from unwanted invaders and pathogens like viruses. The interconnectivity of our lifestyle and our health has become more apparent than ever. This book aims to present its importance and beauty in a fun, engaging way. The microbiome has always been with us, coevolving with humans and entwining its functions with ours. Might as well face it and make friends!
Was there anything else that inspired this book?
I’ve had health struggles since childhood and started looking into wellness and biohacking in earnest a few years ago. There’s hardly a scientific discussion about health lately without mentioning the fascinating (and only partially-explored) microbiome. The fact that we all exist as composite organisms is endlessly enchanting to me. It leads to so much potential for increased curiosity, empathy and imagination – precisely the kinds of things kids are most open to.
Why will people want to read your book? What developments, trends, and issues reflect this need? What kinds of problems does your work address and what solutions does it offer?
Wellness has become a mainstream trend, yet the state of global health is generally declining. Long before the emergence of Covid-19, nutritional experts had agreed that the modern lifestyle is harmful to our inner gardens in many ways. Our gut bacteria is being decimated by processed foods, lack of physical activity, environmental pollution and gut-harming medications. Yet this message has far to go still. Too many kids are growing up surrounded by unhealthy food, bombarded with the idea that addictive sugary treats are something rewarding to covet.
I wish I knew the importance of nutrition and how to regulate my physiological and psychological well-being as a kid. It would’ve saved me so much unnecessary angst and possibly illness. Because 80 – 90% of our immune cells reside in our gut, everything that happens there influences what goes on with our health. Our first line of defense against viral infection (Covid-19 for example) is our respiratory mucosa. Its state is directly influenced by the state of the gut.
Simply put, a healthy gut equals less disease and that extends beyond the physical. We have a chance to gift this important knowledge to the next generation, and it doesn’t have to be scary, dull, preachy or off-putting.
Who do you see as the primary audience for the book?
Anyone who eats.
Who might have a secondary interest in the book?
Parents. Anyone interested in wellness.
What do you hope readers will learn or discover from reading your book?
Healthy fascination with the mighty microbiome. The interconnectivity of our lifestyle and our health. This has become more critical than ever as the world suffers through the effects of a pandemic.
The microbiome is infinitely malleable. It’s never too early or too late to make friends with it.
If you happen to be on the west coast, please come to our book launch event at Dacha in Manhattan Beach this Saturday! Enjoy cocktails by Casamigos tequila, tipsy coloring, music by Pat Restaino and a special appearance by the mystical Sky White Tiger. Our book launch will feature an exhibit of original drawings, one-of-a-kind prints, and signed Color Me Enchanted books. These make lovely gifts for Valentine’s Day and beyond!
Color Me Enchanted Book Launch: February 11, 4-7 PM.
Please [email protected].
Hope to see you there!
As we ring in the New Year, we’re ecstatic to also welcome our new coloring book!! It’s taken many months of meticulous drawing and designing by Masha and Gala Lazuli, and now Color Me Enchanted is finally here! Released wherever fine books are sold, and at Amazon.
If you’re in New York City, please join us in celebrating our book’s release on Friday, January 13th, at Rumpus Room 249 Eldridge St (at Houston). Come meet the artists and enjoy coloring, cocktails, DJs + dancing. This event is 21+ so bring your fake IDs along with all your friends! There will be a limited number of books for sale + color prints. Please pre-order and bring your own copy if you’d like a guaranteed signed book. We will also have a launch event in LA in February – California legends please stay tuned!
Start your new year off right by escaping into fantasy and meditation, with scenes from 25 global fairy tales to color and display. Unleash your inner artist through the sophisticated and dreamlike pages of this unique coloring book. Drawing inspiration from fairy tales told around the world, our new book lays before you whimsical, magical art filled with fair maidens, dreadful beasts, and enchanted forests. All that’s needed to bring them to life is YOU. So grab whatever medium you prefer and create something spectacular! Color Me Enchanted features more than sixty-five pages to color, perforated pages for easy removal, and as a special bonus – pages that complete a fairyland scene when put together. The final images in the book can be displayed as a grouping to make a large and charming piece of wall art. Gold foil accents on the full-color cover make it a beautiful gift for any occasion all year long!
What new influences and opportunities will be headed your way in 2017? What fresh resources will you be able to draw on? How can you conspire with life to create the best possible future for yourself? These are some questions to meditate on with Color Me Enchanted. Can’t wait to see your magic colors in 2017!
In commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the September Eleventh attacks, we’re honored and humbled to present “All We Have Left,” a young adult novel featuring Masha’s illustration on the cover. The book is available in book stores near you and on Amazon.
Gr 7 Up—This beautifully written coming-of-age story traces the lives of two girls whose worlds intersect on September 11, 2001. Chapters alternate between the present-day story of Jesse, whose brother died on that fateful day, and an emotional account of Muslim teen Alia’s experience inside one of the beleaguered Twin Towers. The wounds are so deep that Jesse’s family doesn’t talk about her brother Travis. Her parents are on the brink of a divorce, and she has feelings for a bad boy who leads her astray. After her arrest for hate speech tagging, she is sentenced to community service at the Islam Peace Center. Alia is a teenage girl and aspiring comic book writer/illustrator. An incident at school causes her parents to withdraw permission for Alia to attend a program for talented high school artists. On September 11, she heads to her father’s office at the World Trade Center to plead with him to change his mind. Jesse’s journey to discover why Travis was at the Twin Towers and what happened to him before he died eventually leads her to a search for Alia, the girl Travis was with when the planes hit. Her work at the Islam Peace Center and the friends she makes there instill in Jesse a new understanding of Muslims and the Islamic faith. This outstanding, touching look at a national tragedy promotes healing and understanding.
Happiest Mother’s Day (and, of course Cinco de Mayo)! We hope you’re celebrating with all the mother figures in your life this Sunday. We’re so excited to officially announce a new project, and because it’s a collaboration between Masha and her super mom, the timing seems right! It’s not exactly news (unless you’ve been hiding under a rock that is) that adult coloring books are still all the rage, so here’s a preview of the title page from Color Me Enchanted, published by Houghton Mifflin and available spring 2017. This book will feature intricate scenes to color from fairy tales around the world; famous (such as The Princess and the Pea (Masha’s childhood fave), Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty) and obscure, including brief quotes from the original texts to help bring the scenes to life. Interspersed between the vignettes are pages of luscious patterns. The order of the quotes and scenes is arranged into a larger overall narrative. Ready for some enchanting adult coloring action? We can’t for you to show us your colors! Until then, the wizards are busy painstakingly drawing away every delicious fairy detail… (Seriously, it’s so much work!)
Masha cards on Paper Crave, new and springy! So glad to be featured on the fab blog started by Kristen Magee in 2006 as an outlet for sharing her favorite paper finds – we sure have found many a paper craving there over the years!
Here’s a little taste of the article: “Masha’s bright, vibrant, and expressive designs feature a unique blend of organic watercolor elements and illustration, and I can feel the warm energy that exudes from her new, springtime cards, which were inspired by an obsession with cherry trees and all things blooming.” Thank you, Paper Crave! Read more and shop these beauties here.
In newest Masha news: Refinery29 + Target + Etsy. We’re so excited to share a few of biggies this week.
Our Pack Leader Wolf card is featured in Refinery29 current gift guide! We’re addicted to R29 so it’s extra sweet to be part of it and in such good company. Check out the full post with gift ideas for any age.
We’re also thrilled to introduce two new bespoke collections at select Target stores.First up: Prints Charming, a 12-card line that cleverly marries exclusive watercolor illustrations with irresistible holographic metallic foils and glitter processes. The combinations make for a treat that’s sweet and rich – yes please!
The Water Typo 12-card line juxtaposes free-flowing and abstract watercolor palette with offbeat messages done in Masha’s hand (painted into the washes – see how the color pools around ;)?) and printed in various holographic metallic foils. The whole effect is fast, festive, artsy fun, don’t you think? If you or your recipient(s) are color and texture junkies like us, these are for you! Let’s get psychedelic.
Both these card lines are part of our diffusion brand M by Masha D’yans and have messages inside and out for a complete package. To see more, please visit your Target store. You’ll only find these gems of color happiness in the boutique section of Target cards so be sure to check them out while they last!
Last but not least, good news for all you Etsy addicts! We just added an Etsy outpost of Masha shop featuring our bestest sellers. You’ll notice the pricing is a bit different, but with lower shipping on smaller quantities it comes to the same deal. Give it a whirl – we’d love to know what you think. The plan is to add one-of-a-kind products in the future.
We have a couple exciting Masha holiday events coming soon to both coasts! First up – should you find yourself in beautiful New York City, and ready to add a fete to your December 4th, please come see Masha at the iconic and glamorous Saks 5th Avenue’s Holiday Artisanal Showcase! She’ll be signing her exclusive mixed card sets as well as anything else you care to have her autograph, so don’t forget to bring your Masha calendar, Razzle Dazzle Ruby or Poem as Big as NYC. Fancy treats for all. We hope to see you 4-7:30 on 5th Ave and 50th St (9th floor)!
If sunny LA is your preference, on December 13th Masha is joining I.Ronni Kappos Jewelry at a holiday pop-up event which will include fashion, accessories, stationary and treats! Come see us 11-5 at 1523 Portia Street near Echo Park Blvd. and Sunset and make your holidays even shinier!