MOLLY RUTTAN: Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies Plus Giveaway


Plate of Cookies





Can you tell that I really LOVE Molly Ruttan’s books? This is the third time she’s been a guest on Picture Books Help Kids Soar – first for the cover reveal for SOMETHING WILD. Then for a Book Birthday post. And now, for a Q&A on Will Write/Illustrate for Cookies. And actually, I featured I AM A THIEF, written by Abigail Rayner and illustrated by Molly for Perfect Picture Book Friday back in 2019, and also VIOLET AND THE CRUMBS: A Gluten-Free Adventure, written by Abigail and illustrated by Molly for another Perfect Picture Book Friday post last year.

Molly Ruttan is an author/illustrator of children’s books. She grew up making art and music in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York and earned a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art. Molly now lives in the diverse and historic neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles, where her family has recently grown with the joyful addition of a granddaughter. She played violin as a child, and now plays drums, sings in a community choir and has just started the viola. She loves exploring all kinds of fine art and illustration mediums, including making her own animated book trailers. Her life is full of art, music, family, friends and all kinds of pets and urban animals.

Molly’s titles include her author/illustrator debut, The Stray, (Nancy Paulsen Books); I Am A Thief! by Abigail Rayner, (North South Books); and Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Adventure by Abigail Rayner (North South Books). Something Wild is Molly’s second author/illustrated book and has received a starred Kirkus review. She has two additional books forthcoming.

ME: WELCOME, MOLLY! We are so very happy you are here! I know everyone is excited to find out more about you, so I’ll get started with the questions.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child? 

MOLLY: Some of the picture books I loved when I was a kid were written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey—Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine and Homer Price are among my all-time favorites, along with all of H. A. Rey’s Curious George books. I discovered Garth Williams with The Cricket in Times Square, Charlotte’s Web, and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, and Ruth Christian Gannett reading the My Father’s Dragon series. I still love the classics to this day, and often refer to them when I’m developing a story.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

MOLLY: I’ve always loved writing stories that have a deeper meaning. When I first started writing, these were things like finding your voice or learning to take responsibility. I still love incorporating these kinds of themes, but it was a few years into my writing before I learned how very important emotion is to a book, whether it be in the story, the pictures, or both. I love the quote from author and poet Maya Angelou, who said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I think this also holds true for a book, (and really with any creative expression). It amazes me how long it took me to really grasp this. I now strive to weave emotion into my work with intention.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper? 

MOLLY: I carry a sketchbook around with me at all times! The habit started after my kids were launched and I found myself spending a lot of time with my mom (who I was taking care of) sitting in doctor’s offices. I started bringing my sketchbook with me, so I could work while we waited. I got so much writing and drawing done this way that I started bringing it everywhere. At home I’ll sit at the kitchen table or on my couch. During the warmer months I’ll sit outside on our patio. And you’ll absolutely find me writing & sketching while I’m waiting for a friend at a coffee shop, or in the audience at a (live) conference.

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

MOLLY: I work office hours every day on one project or another. For this reason, I write and draw new ideas as the muse strikes. I belong to a writing group that met every weekend, pre-pandemic. It was refreshing to have a place to go every week for a change of scenery. I’m looking forward to the in-person meetings again! I also have a 3-hour weekly zoom with my art collective, The Mullberries, ( We work on the art for our books or other projects during the zoom and talk as we work, giving and receiving feedback and advice. I highly recommend having a writing and/or art group that meets regularly as a way of getting scheduled productive time.

ME: Why do you write for children?

MOLLY: I’m a strong believer in supporting a child’s imagination, sense of play, and their emotional view of the world. As a creator of children’s books, I feel a responsibility to write and illustrate books that will engage this. In my new book, Something Wild, I wove the main character Hannah’s imagination and her “real life” together to create a holographic picture of an emotional journey. Hannah’s fear and anxiety resolve into joy and empowerment through the use of her imagination, and the story ends with strong feelings of reassurance and encouragement. My intention was to help kids who have stage fright process their feelings while enjoying a compelling story filled with engaging illustrations. The process of creating the book and bringing it into the world has definitely helped me process my own stage fright—so hopefully that’s a good sign!

Interior spread from Something Wild, written and illustrated by Molly Ruttan. Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Random House ©2023.

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.

MOLLY: I would love to share two quotes from Albert Einstein that I love. 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

ME: READ MORE FAIRYTALES! Yes! Fairytales and folk tales were my favorite reading/listening material as a very young child! Thank you so much, Molly! Your insights are empowering and your inspiration is a priceless treasure that we can all hold close to our hearts as we travel this path to publication.

And something else I remember is that when we are hiking, it’s always good to bring along some energy food – and here’s something sweet from Molly for your writing journey!

MOLLY: One of my favorite cookie recipes is for a cookie called “refrigerator cookies”, from a 70s-era Betty Crocker cookbook. I grew up watching my mom make the many variations, but my favorite is the “Pinwheel”. I make them for special occasions, because they need to chill overnight, and they take some skill to assemble, (especially if you use GF flour, which I use regularly.) They are worth it though, for both their appearance and their taste!


1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
3 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Mix butter, sugar and egg. Stir in flour, cocoa, salt and nuts. Cover, chill 1 hour.
Divide dough in half, shape each into a roll, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap & chill at least 8 hours.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut rolls into 1/8-inch slices. (If dough crumbles while cutting, let it warm slightly). Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 8 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet; cool. Makes about 8 dozen cookies.


Omit 1/2 cup cocoa & the nuts. After dough is mixed, divide in half. Stir 1/2 cup cocoa into 1 half. Chill 1 hour. On a slightly floured, cloth-covered board (I use parchment paper) roll plain dough into a rectangle, 16×9 inches. Roll the chocolate dough to the same size; place on top. Roll doughs 3/16-inch thick. Roll up tightly. Wrap, chill, slice & bake as above.

Note: Sometimes I double the recipe and make one plain and one with the cocoa; then assemble 2 rolls.

Another note: When I roll out the chocolate dough, I use cocoa on a fresh piece of parchment paper instead of flour, to keep the nice chocolate color.)

What a fun cookie to make for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and other summer festivities! I know we are all thanking Molly for everything she shared with us today. A couple of fabulous ways to thank our favorite authors is to buy their books, review their books, share their books with friends, and request our local libraries to purchase copies for their collection.

Please remember to leave a comment for a chance to win Molly Ruttan’s giveaway of an art print and some SOMETHING WILD book swag.

Giveaway Prize: Art print and SOMETHING WILD book swag from Molly Ruttan

What really interesting about this post going live on May 13 is that Molly is actually performing at a recital TODAY with The Silverlake Conservatory of Music’s Adult Choir (The Silverlake Singers)!!! ( — This music school is also where she had her book launch!
Maybe in the comments you can share a memory of a time when you were nervous at a presentation or recital.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! And please don’t forgot to hurry back tomorrow for the Mother’s Day post with all of the #50PreciousWordsforKids stories.

14 thoughts on “MOLLY RUTTAN: Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies Plus Giveaway

  1. Thanks for this wonderful interview, Molly and Vivian. I can easily relate to stage fright as a kid performing in recitals (I played the violin) and as an adult doing presentations for teachers. Looking forward to reading Something Wild.


  2. This interview is very inspiring Molly. You got me really thinking on all that I am focusing on and how my writing lifestyle has changed through the years. I love that you infuse emotion, play and imagination in your stories. Your quotes are fabulous as well along with your illustrations. So looking forward to checking out this book. Looks like a gem for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great interview—thank you Molly and Vivian! I loved what you had to say about emotion being the most important thing for your picture book story to impart on the reader. I can’t wait to read your books.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Maya Angelou, who said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Many of her sayings are something to live by. What a beautiful human being. Thank you for putting emotion into your writing for young minds. Can’t wait to read your new PB.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely need to add more emotion to my manuscripts and want to read this author/illustrator’s books as mentor text. I still get nervous when I have flute solos during concerts. My most nervous times were performing for a judge during solo and ensemble events in high school.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lots of recitals as a kid, so I can totally relate to the feelings in this book. And getting that emotional element in each and every story is something I have yet to master, but it is so important! Congrats on this beautiful book, Molly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fun interview, thank you Vivian and Molly! I love the Albert Einstein quotes. I’m not sure if there’s a giveaway, but as you know I already have a signed copy of SOMETHING WILD from Molly’s visit to Second Star to the Right!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a wonderful interview! I can relate to little Hannah in Something Wild. I was extremely shy when I was a little girl. Thank you for writing this book, Molly. I would have loved reading a book about my timid feelings when I was young. You will help little ones like Molly. They will know they are not alone in their feelings. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m glad Molly shared Albert Einstein’s quote about imagination. This is the first I’ve heard it, and it’s thought-provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

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