RINA SINGH AND ISHITA JAIN: Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies Plus Giveaway


Plate of Cookies




Rina Singh is an award-winning children’s book author and spoken word coach. She has an MFA in creative writing and has written many critically acclaimed books for children. As a writer, she is drawn to real life stories about social justice and the environment. Her books have been translated into multiple languages and have received many starred reviews. Her book Grandmother School won the Christie Harris Children’s Literature Prize, and 111 Trees was featured in The New York Times. A lover of poetry, photography, beautiful books, trees, and monks, she lives with her husband and Japanese koi in a blue house in Toronto.

Ishita Jain is an illustrator from Delhi, India, though she is now based in New York. She is an alumnus of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India, and the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Program at the School of Visual Arts, New York. Ishita loves to draw on location and enjoys documenting the people, places, and stories that surround her. Her work is inspired by day-to-day moments and the wonder that comes from being around nature. The Forest Keeper is Ishita’s first picture book.

ME: We don’t have the usual Will Write for Cookies questions because in honor of Earth Day, Rina is sharing why she wanted to write this particular book and I know everyone is going to want to hear her answers.

ME: In your bio you say, “I am drawn to real life stories about social justice and the environment.” Can you elaborate?

RINA: Stories engage your attention and trigger your imagination. So, when you read about someone– you live their life momentarily, but the experience changes your perspective forever.
In the context of Climate Change, the kids are getting this message to plant more trees. Sure, they may say but ask how? They are just kids. However, if kids read The Forest Keeper, they may never forget that a young boy started growing a forest all by himself. Even if the kids don’t act upon it immediately, the experience will stay and maypropel them to do something later.
If we want our world to be sustainable and livable for a long time, we better start now. That means all of us, including kids. If I had a choice to watch fictional movies instead of documentaries, I would choose the latter. To me, stories are not just about entertainment. We must live informed lives and learn about the extraordinary things ordinary people do to improve our world. I find real life stories inspiring.

ME: Which illustrations from Ishita Jain speaks to you the most and why? Did she bring the story to life for you?

RINA: I had been following Ishita on Instagram and was already in love with her greens. I was confident she would bring the forest to life. I love all the illustrations, but two spreads in the book took my breath away. One is almost at the beginning. Surrounded by the turquoise River Brahmaputra, Jadav is planting a bamboo seedling.

The watercolors are beautiful. There is one spread with birds, and the sky is almost red. It is stunning.

ME: Is there anything in Ishita’s color scheme or style that reveal something unique abut Indian culture?

RINA: Ishita has balanced the greens and the blues with sudden bursts of a 
red fire or a flaming sunset in a spectacular way. The browns of the 
tree trunks and the grey of the elephants root the illustrations and 
depict the story and India in a very authentic and remarkable way.

ME: Why is this story an important one for young children to read? Why is a book about a forest in India relevant here and today?

RINA: Mama Mimi, a reviewer, writes:
“This book (The Forest Keeper) inspires children to go out and solve world issues– to become young change-makers. Immediately after reading, my daughter wanted to discuss ways to help the environment and help with other issues, beginning with our community. That’s priceless to me!”
Showing what one person with limited resources can do to restore the environment, the story of Jadav and his determination should inspire any young reader. Climate change is everyone’s business. I hope my story gives children the courage to protect our planet.

ME: When you were a child, was there a picture book or a story told to you that left an impact on you and why?

RINA: When I was a child growing up in India, there was no concept of children’s literature. My little town had no public library. I attendeda Catholic school, and all our books came from England. So, I grew up reading, but I didn’t identify with the characters or places. I didn’t know any better. But I’m grateful I fell in love with books. If there had been books, Shel Silverstein’s, The Giving Tree would have been the one. When I read it as an adult, I cried and promised myself that I would pay my own tribute to trees. The Forest Keeper is my third book on trees.

ME: Is there anything you want to tell your readers? Do you have a message for them?

RINA: I apologize on behalf of all adults who have messed up the world with their ignorance and greed. They really have. I’ve been a teacher and I still teach poetry to kids. Meeting them gives me hope. I have confidence that the young people today are more responsible, more aware, and without doubt will take care of this planet better than the previous generation.
Please take care of the world!

ME: WOW! What a heartfelt plea, dear Rina! Thank you so much! It looks like the collaboration with Ishita was a magical one – and parents and children all over the world will benefit from this beautiful book and important message!

And friends…since this blog series is called Will Write for Cookies…I asked Rina if she could share a favorite cookie or treat recipe with us…take it away, Rina!

Sooji Halwa
(Semolina Pudding)
Recipe by Rina Singh

1 cup semolina
½ cup icing sugar
¼ cup +1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
(You can use unsalted butter, but ghee will give it a nuttier taste).
1 & ¾ cup boiling water

In a non-stick pan melt the ghee on slow fire.
Add semolina and roast. Keep stirring. Do not leave unattended.
It should turn golden brown in about 8 to 10 minutes.
Adjust flame accordingly. It should release an aroma.
Add icing sugar and keep stirring.
Gradually add hot water and keep on stirring till the consistency is like porridge.
It will become firm and grainy once it is cooled down.
Put in a bowl and garnish with slivered almonds and pistachio nuts.
Serve warm.
Kids should make this with adult supervision

Please make sure you leave a comment for a chance to win the giveaway of a copy of THE FOREST KEEPER. And remember that we help our favorite authors and illustrators by buying their books, reviewing their books, telling friends about their books, and asking our local libraries to purchase copies of the books for their collection. The book launches on April 18!!!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

18 thoughts on “RINA SINGH AND ISHITA JAIN: Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies Plus Giveaway

  1. I learned about a program that gives free saplings to children for Earth Day and am excited that my library is participating and we have over 150 kids registered to receive a tree of their own to plant and raise! Thank you for writing this important book. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This book is so beautiful! I can’t wait to read this. Our community always gives away trees (saplings) for Earth Day–we can choose from both deciduous and conifer varieties.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful and inspiring picture book! The school where I taught gave each student a small evergreen tree. I wish I had found a book like this to share with those children. Congratulations on your new book, Rina and Ishita! I can’t wait to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We’ve also planted free saplings given away locally on Earth Day. This book is sure to resonate with kids and adults alike. Who doesn’t love trees? They such an important and beautiful part of our amazing planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring picture book. I agree with you that there is hope in the new generations. I can see that in my children, who are concerned about leaving a light on or purchasing a plastic toy. There is much more consideration on wasting too. Books like yours, are so important because they reinforce school teachings at home. Thank you for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank for this book which sounds and looks incredibly beautiful. It’s so important for kids to have hope for a better world and to be inspired to act.


  7. RINA: THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION to write stories to help our readers–and ourselves!–“live informed lives and learn about the extraordinary things ordinary people do to improve our world.” I LOVE that you have written THREE books about trees! They are SPECIAL to my heart as well. Many of my story ideas are also about environmentalism and INSPIRING change, so I CAN’T WAIT to read this BEAUTIFUL book! It will TRULY be a mentor text for me.THANK YOU for sharing this man’s AMAZING story to bring about change—one tree at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

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