Alex Macdonald is an English-Spanish children's book author who loves writing bilingual children's books that inspire children to learn while having fun.
Born in London, Alex moved to Madrid 15 years ago, where she lives happily in the mountains with her husband, two children, a dog and a cat. After working for many years as a geneticist, Alex started writing and illustrating bilingual stories for her children and now has two books published: Milly & Coco (2021) and Mouki and her special day/El día especial de Mouki (2022).
Her latest book, Mouki and her new nest/El nuevo nido de Mouki, is a sequel to her first Mouki book, and follows the adventures of a little bird as she moves to a new nest and meets her new neighbours. The book teaches children to practice counting up to ten and to learn about different birds and animals.
Join us for a Q&A with Alex as she shares about her new story and the Kickstarter campaign she is now running to fund it.
1. What inspired you to write this story?
This is my third children's book, all of which are bilingual because I'm half Spanish and half English and have two bilingual children. My first book, Milly & Coco, started off as a bedtime story and became a bit of an obsession as I attempted to make the story rhyme in both languages.
The inspiration for this third book came because the children at our local school kept asking when I would bring out another Mouki book (Mouki is a little bird in my second book), and I thought it would be great to have Mouki moving house, meeting new neighbours and, at the same time, introducing the numbers up to 10 in both languages.
2. Tell me about your Kickstarter campaign and why you decided to do it?
I'm doing a Kickstarter to be able to publish Mouki and her New Nest/El nuevo nido de Mouki with the highest print quality possible. Softcover books are great, but there's nothing like a beautiful hardcover book. If I get the funding, I'll be able to do a print run of at least 100 copies with a great size format, 22 cm x 25 cm, with a self-publishing company in Spain that will proofread the text and help with formatting, as well as national distribution. I'd also like to be able to offer stretch goals, such as a counting poster and plushies if I manage to raise more than the target amount.
3. What do you want to tell readers with your story?
For me, the most important aspect of a children's book is that it's enjoyable to read. I've got a great team of alpha readers at home, my 5- and 8-year-old kids who share their opinions without hesitating, and this story got the thumbs up. But it's also educational.
As I mentioned, it's a counting book to help children get used to hearing the numbers in order and also to help them learn the proper pronunciation (something that can be a little tricky for non-native English speakers).
Lastly, there are lots of different birds and animals in the book (cuckoos, a heron, a kingfisher, a squirrel, a duck-billed platypus and wild boars, to name a few) about which there are fun facts at the end, as well as some more counting, hide-and-seek, and drawing activities.
4. How do the illustrations complement the text?
I'm not a professional illustrator, but I love drawing, especially birds and animals. I actually created Mouki while I was playing around with my (then) new tablet. I illustrated my first book with a free illustrating program that took me ages to learn, and I think that my drawings have developed quite a lot since then. I've learned so much in a relatively short amount of time.
The illustrations in this second Mouki book are simple, but I've tried to make the birds and animals as true to life as possible. I also added little details that the reader might not notice the first time they read the book.