Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Pen Pal Posts - Elma Maendel

I'm fortunate to have a fellow-writer who lives under the same roof with me - my sister, Elma. We're also part of a writers group. It's very helpful to have someone close by to bounce ideas of off and since we grew up together, we share many of the same memories, so she can help add details to my stories and I for hers.

Elma has published two delightful children's books, Marty's Adventure and Marty's Colour Adventure and is looking to get the third one published, hopefully, in the not so distant future. Both of her published books are available on Amazon and also the HB Book Centre. Of course we have these books in our school, so we know children love them!

If you've followed this blog for a while, you know I don't like mice. However, I believe mice in books are adorable, and the ones in these books are no exception. Cynthia Stahl is an exceptional artist!

Here's my interview with Elma:

When was your first book published?

Marty's Adventure was published in 2008 and first launched at Canmore, Alberta at the International Conference for Hutterite Educators (ICHE).

What or who inspired you to publish children’s books? How did you decide to use a mouse as one of the main characters?

The idea of my first Marty book was sparked when I took a Children’s Literature course while I was still in university.  I’m not exactly sure how the mouse came about, but I definitely wanted a Hutterite child. 

The illustrator of your books is Cynthia Stahl. How did you decide to partner with her, in this publishing journey?

One of the first university courses I took, took place at Crystal Spring, where Cynthia lived at the time.  This is where I was first introduced to Cynthia’s art work.  Interestingly enough, it was a picture of some cute mice! Of course, I fell in love with them.  Soon after that, I approached her about illustrating my books.

Do you draw inspiration from other children’s book authors? Who is your favourite one and why?

In my job as an elementary teacher, I get to read tons of wonderful picture books, however, I can’t say that a specific author has inspired me.  More so, I saw the need for Hutterite children to have books written by and for Hutterites.

Are there plans for another Marty Mouse books?

The third Marty books has been written and illustrated and is anxiously awaiting publication, sitting on the desk of my publisher!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I had three purposes for writing children’s books

  •     I want Hutterite children to have books where they see characters and language they can identify with.
  •      I want to give non-Hutterite children a glimpse into our unique community.
  •      I want to be able to use my books as teaching tools, hence: shapes, colours and soon numbers.
I agree, it's important that Hutterites write stories, for all the reasons you listed and also that there are books available that tell our stories from our perspective - frankly, no one can tell these stories like Hutterites themselves! I also know, first hand how rewarding this is; I've published two books: Lindas gluecklicher Tag and more recently Hutterite Diraries.  

Thank you for being part of my Pen Pal Posts and also for always being willing to edit my writing!

(To see previous post in this series, click on Pen Pal Posts under Tabs.)



  1. Her books sound just adorable! I may have to put these on my wish list for a couple special girls I know.

  2. Yes, they are wonderful books, as they're written in rhyme along with delightful illustrations, both of which appeal to young children,


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