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How Author Mickey Paraskevas Will Be Celebrating Screen Free Week!

April 28, 2013

We’re happy to run this special bonus Screen Free Week post featuring an author and illustrator we love, Mickey Paraskevas. His new book TAFFY SALTWATER’S YUMMY SUMMER DAY is a bright, cheerful picture book about summer fun, sandy beach days and true friends. This is a terrific summer read for the preschoolers in your life. Mickey is here to share his plans for Screen Free Week, what he loves about the beach, his perfect reading and writing spots, how his mother inspired Taffy’s character and so much more. We hope you enjoy this post and that it gives you the last push you need to take the Screen Free pledge yourself!

1 Day - Taffy Saltwater's Yummy Summer Day_1

How are you planning on celebrating Screen Free Week?

I prefer balloons. Balloons always make for a happy occasion. So it’s balloons to celebrate.

What is going to be the hardest thing for you to give up?

I watch the news most of the day. And I enjoy watching old movies on Turner Classic Movies. I think I’ll miss the old movies the most.

What is your ideal screen-free day?

Reading a book on the deck, while sitting in the sun. I have a great yard filled with birds and the occasional deer that wanders by. I will wander into town for lunch and bring my sketchbook with me. I draw constantly so getting away from any screen isn’t too much of a change for me.

So you’re ready to have a great screen free day outside, only to discover it’s raining! What do you do?

Well, even in the rain you can find a spot to draw. I’ll probably go to the local Coffee place and sit there drawing people. I love the library too. Mostly I would probably stay home and work on a painting. Painting does take most of the day. At least I’ll get to paint outside pictures.

What is your favorite beach activity?

Everyone always says they love to walk on the beach. I like to walk too but the best thing, for me on the beach, is to paint. I bring a small set of watercolors and a pad and start to paint all the wonderful people that I see. I spend a lot of time trying to get the seagulls not to eat my cheese crackers. They are very persistent.

Do you like to build sandcastles like Taffy?

Building a sandcastle like Taffy’s requires great engineering skills. He castle reaches the clouds and took days and days to get just right. She is constantly fixing towers and turrets that are destroyed by the crashing waves. She likes to fix it. It’s her pride and joy.

Where is your favorite place to read?

I think i mentioned that before. I like to read on the deck that over looks my yard. But on a cold day or a rainy day I enjoy reading in the library room I recently added to my house. There is nothing better than being surrounded by books while reading.

And to write?

Same place. I love to write in the library on my laptop. Wait…isn’t my laptop a screen? Isn’t this screen free. If it was really screen free I suppose I could cheat a bit to write on the computer.

How did you come up with Taffy Saltwater’s character?

My mother, Betty, who wrote wonderful and inspiring stories, loved the Boardwalk of New Jersey. Especially in the Ocean Grove area. She spent her childhood down there and instilled in me a love of that area. I never get tired of roaming the Boardwalk in Asbury Park. There is something about the air that makes me feel better. Rigby the Rabbit was mine as a child. I carried a rabbit with me all the time. He was one of my favorite toys. Taffy is loosely based on my mother. She was always energetic, always looking for something to do, always thinking about how to make the day better and always spinning a story for those around her.

Rollo, the beach ball is the kind of beach ball that a kid loves to have but always blows away in the wind.

Where do you get your inspiration?

There is inspiration everywhere. You just have to open  your eyes. I write and draw a comic strip every week in Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons. It’s online too. People always ask me where my ideas come from. Sometimes I dream, sometimes I just let my mind wander, sometimes I read the newspaper looking for topics. Ideas can come from anywhere.  Open your eyes and make connections between things. Sometimes a good glass of orange juice helps too.

What is the next adventure for Taffy and the rest of the crew?

I was thinking Taffy should move her friends to a snowy mountain for a winter festival. She can build an ice palace for her friends and have a wonderful Christmas Party. And of course, Rollo would meet a very cute Snowball. Rigby would be just as grumpy. The snow would be too cold for him as the sand is too hot.

If you’d like to catch up with our other Screen Free authors and illustrators you can click through for posts from Chris Rashka, Tad Hills, Bob Staake and Dan Yaccarino. All of these authors will be participating in the kickoff event for Screen Free Week at the Eric Carle Museum today, Sunday April 28th!

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