PHOTO by Carmela Dutra
“Literature has the ability to open up a whole new world to children, but we need to have a share in helping them to find that door and open it with them. Let’s set the example and help to foster this love of reading in our little ones. ” ~ Carmela Dutra~
Carmela Dutra is an award winning author, storyteller, illustrator, wife and mother.
Carmela is very passionate about children’s literacy, which is the main reason she started writing. She believes that nothing is more magical for a child than being transported to a new world where they can explore and discover unknown things and Carmela is known for her frequent visits to classrooms in her community.
In addition to writing and illustrating, Carmela Dutra is also a professional photographer. Working with children is her passion! Whether she captures their whimsical nature through the lenses of a camera, or with her stories, she hopes to encourage children to find their own passion for reading and writing.
Hi Carmela! So glad you could do this interview with me.
What drew you to writing for children and tell us about your children’s books?
I originally started writing children’s stories as something fun for my niece and nephew. I never had any plans of my work going public; that was just a happy side effect of sharing my stories. Now, I keep writing because not only do I enjoy the creative aspect of it, but seeing how much the students I visit enjoy them is a huge motivating factor to keep plugging along.
I have two series, so I will include both.
The Adventures of Lorenzo the Bear is a fun action packed read that will delight both boys and girls, young or old. Focusing on friendship, bravery, helping those in need, and looking for the good in others. Filled with vintage style illustrations, Lorenzo the Bear is sure to captivate readers everywhere!
Little Katie is a STEM series, where the reader learns facts about various things in a fun
way. Complete with full page watercolor illustrations, each story is unique, and sure to capture the attention of any child.
Use your imagination and take a walk on the moon side of things with Little Katie and Smudge!
Discover why satellites are so important, explore information about spacesuits, imagine flying in a rocket ship, uncover facts about landing on the moon, learn about who landed on the moon first, and much more!
Carmela, was there any particular children’s author or authors who influenced you?
I’m not sure I would there was any children’s author in particular that was an influence on me. Like most I enjoyed the classics, Seuss, Carle, Mayer, the list is endless. I like children’s literature when there is a lesson, whether you catch it right away, or you have to think about it. I also enjoy it when the writer can teach something in a fun way. So I guess you could say many helped to influence me.
Why do you do a lot of visits to classrooms in your community? Besides being a fun break from the classroom routine, an author or illustrator visit introduces students to the processes of writing, developing characters, and expressing one’s creativity. There have been schools I visit to find that the funding for art has been drastically cut, or eliminated. As an artist, this pains me deeply. I remember in one classroom the students didn’t know what primary colors were. It was from that moment on I was determined to focus on art during my author visits. These visits get the students excited about books, and it provides an opportunity to encourage young writers. To see how their eyes light up when they get to work on their writing project with me, then to hear from the teachers how the students are still talking about the visit weeks later, well, I have to keep going back.
My Author and illustrator visits are always free as my way to give back to the schools, and to help encourage the students.
What circumstances inspired you to pursue your art? I started drawing, or doodling shall we say, long before I could actually write my name. Art is in my blood. Everyone on my father’s side dabbles in art in one form or another. My father himself even had the opportunity to work with Disney in Florida as an illustrator. However, family circumstances prevented him from continuing. My father made sure that art was a priority in my life. He and I would draw, color, and sketch for hours at a time. Art is such an immense part of my life; I cannot imagine ever going without it.
Whose artwork do you love? Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, and Pointillism happen to be my favorite type of paintings. I remember when we took a trip to Paris, I spent all day in the Musee d’Orsay staring at all of these amazing paintings. I could spend an eternity studying these artists and their masterpiece, and it still wouldn’t be enough for me. George Seurat, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas are just a few of the many artists that I love.
What mediums have you worked in? Watercolor, pen, and ink, charcoal, Colored pencils, crayons, acrylic, oil, even on occasions finger paints ha-ha!
What was your original goal to achieve as an author and artist, and have you reached it? I never had a goal. I took creative writing classes in school, but overall I started writing as something to give to my niece and nephew. Anything I do is always for my pleasure; I told myself that once I lost the love; I would stop. I am happy to say that I have not lost that love, in fact, it has blossomed into something bigger than I could have imagined. I have even had the opportunity to start illustrating for other individuals as well. So being able to do something I love for work, is a wonderful chance I never expected to have.
Tell us about your photography and how you got into it?
I’ve been a professional
Photos by Carmela
photographer for over ten years. Photography is one of my favorite loves and passion. I love being able to capture the whimsy of life through the lens of my camera. I shoot mainly weddings and portraits, but my favorite is still-life, nature, and wildlife.
Where can people find your photos and artwork?
TELL us about your latest job! How has motherhood changed things for you? It’s loud,
Carmela and baby at work!
messy, crazy, challenging; I hardly have any time to myself. Between four cats and a 7-month-old, no privacy in the bathrooms for sure! I seem to go through more laundry that I thought would be possible. In fact, that is one of my gripes. Everyone tells you how much laundry the baby will go through, but they fail to mention how much you go through as the parent. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Above all else, it’s fun! It’s exciting, each day brings new surprises, new challenges, we discover new things together, we grow together, we thrive. As a mother with my son, and as a family unit as a whole, we grow closer each and every day. I love it, every moment, every teary face, every toothy grin. For me, being a Stay at Home/ Work at Home is the best of both worlds. I get to be here for the first giggle and step, first cry and laugh. I’m still the same person I was before Levi arrived, now I just have this extra amazing little person with me all the time! Oh trust me, it can be a crazy juggling act on some days, but the multitasking is worth it! I cannot imagine not having him with me every moment of the day.
Who do you read? Andrea Camilleri is my favorite author. He is an Italian writer, in the mystery genera. His style is very particular as he mixes Italian and local dialect without however making it unreadable for those who are not from that part of Italy.
What is your next project? I’m focusing on my newest series Little Katie. Little Katie is a science-based series, where the reader learns facts about various things in a fun way. Complete with full page watercolor illustrations, each story is unique, and sure to capture the attention of any child.
Where can people find your books for sale?
Purchases of signed copies can be made at my website
Thank you so much, Carmela for doing this interview. I appreciate it.
Visit the Bear’s Den on Carmela’s site!