Elicia Castaldi is our Author Champion of the Week


Milk+Bookies is proud to spotlight Elicia Castaldi as our Author Champion of the week. The Milk+Bookies mission is to join together a community of parents, authors, and community leaders to promote literacy and service learning among youth.  Not only is Elicia Castaldi one of our favorite creative illustrators and authors, but she is also a dedicated supporter of our mission to increase access to books for underserved communities. For this reason, we are very proud to spotlight Elicia’s new children’s book, The Food Parade on sale December 31st! This imaginative book introduces children to the 5 food groups and explains in a fun and easy way how they nourish our bodies. Castaldi’s new book seamlessly teaches children healthy eating habits and tells an exciting story everyone will love! Milk+Bookies is glad to have her as a supporter and believe you will enjoy The Food Parade with your little ones!


The author took time to answer some of our questions to give us more information on her and her new book!


How was working on your own picture book, The Food Parade, different from the other children’s books you have worked on before?

Each of the four books I’ve illustrated have been different in lots of ways, but this one was very special because it was my first published book as both author and illustrator. It’s truly a dream come true. Creatively, when it’s your own manuscript, you’re in your own little bubble with both the words and the pictures. Everything is more inward-focused. I really love being in that bubble, but it’s a different kind of excitement to collaborate on books, such as the middle school series I worked on with Jennifer L. Holm. I enjoy all of it, I absolutely love making books.

What was your inspiration for The Food Parade?

My inspiration came from my own childhood curiosities. When I was a young girl I was always enamored with what foods “did” — meaning, what were their health benefits (probably from watching Popeye on tv). If I was eating carrots, I would ask my parents to tell me again what carrots did for us — nutrition seemed very magical. The Food Parade is exactly the kind of book I would have enjoyed reading when I was a kid.

What were your favorite foods to eat as a child and has that changed from now?

I had so many favorite foods growing up. The very condensed list would be: my dad’s lentil soup, my grandmother’s lasagna, sweet potatoes, spinach with black olives and stuffed artichokes. Lentil soup is still my ultimate favorite food. I still love the same foods today that I did as a child, except for foods like jalapeños and anchovies – those affinities happened later in life.

Who is your favorite character from Food Parade?

Ooh — tough decision! All of the characters have their own kooky vibe. Perhaps my favorite is the very snazzy lamb chop, though I also adore the pancake in roller-skates. Food Town is a fun little world.

What advice can you offer to parents trying to get their children to eat healthy, well-rounded meals?

I’m not a parent yet, so I can only speculate. However, I would say that leading by example is the biggest thing a parent can do. If children see their parents enjoying healthy meals and being kind to their bodies, it makes an impression. My mom had a huge influence on how healthy I am today. That’s why I dedicated my book to her.

Will you continue to make children’s books as an author/illustrator and do you have any future projects we can look forward to?

Absolutely! I have a few picture book ideas that I’m in the process of developing. I’m not sure which will become books – that’s up to the publishing world. My hope is that I can keep making all kinds of books. Besides lentil soup, books are my favorite thing in the world.

Do you have any readings or upcoming signings?

I do! I will be doing a few different book events in 2014. The first is in LA with your lovely organization Milk + Bookies! The bookstore and date are still in the works. I will also be having a book signing at Whole Foods Market in Providence, Rhode Island sometime in early spring. I will be posting info on my website and my Facebook author/illustrator page Elicia Castaldi.

Where can people find The Food Parade to buy and share with their children?

The Food Parade is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as local independent booksellers. It will definitely be stocked at Whole Foods Market in Providence, possibly other locations as well.



Make sure you grab your copy today! 

by socialmedia

Intern Spotlight: Carly

Photo Credit: Rudy Ambrocio
As another intern season comes to a close, the Milk+Bookies staff sat down with one of our fall interns, Carly, for our traditional farewell interview. It’s always bittersweet to have a member of Team Intern leave us, but we can’t wait to hear about the wonderful ways Carly will be changing the world over on the East coast!


Name: Carly
School: Susquehanna University
Position: Program Officer Intern
Why were you looking for an internship? After graduating I wanted to get involved somehow in the nonprofit world. I was job searching all summer and finally found Milk + Bookies. I was so excited to apply because it embodied everything I was looking for.
What drew you to M+B? The idea of bringing together service learning and literacy sounded awesome to me. I was a creative writing major at SU and have always loved books. I’ve also worked at a summer camp for years and love inspiring children to become great. The idea of taking two things I love and putting them together in order to inspire these future philanthropists was exactly what I wanted.
What was your greatest experience with M+B? Most challenging? My greatest experience was helping out at all the events. From Flash Giving to story times, it was always fun seeing how excited kids got about donating books. It is really awe-inspiring how easily it can come to a child. After explaining what M + B is all about, kids would write really beautiful inscriptions. The most challenging ties in with the greatest experience. During Flash Giving especially, I realized how out of touch we have all become with charity. With all the new technology we’ve all become to caught up in our own lives and don’t even think about those of us who might be less fortunate. During Flash Giving it was always sad to me to see how many people would pass up the opportunity to donate a book.
What makes working at M+B different than other internships? Working at M + B is so different from any other internship. Some of my friends complain to me about how they hate their internship. They complain about having to go on coffee runs and feel very out of touch with the staff. At M + B that is never the case. As an intern I was able to be involved in so many projects and learn so much. I was also able to build relationships with everyone in the office. Coming to work was always something I looked forward to. And I can’t forget to mention the cookies.
What was the most surprising statistic/fact you learned about service learning or literacy? My first day at M+B I was looking through all of the statistics we have to get familiar with everything. The one fact that I will never forget is about the ratio of books to children. In families above the poverty line there are 13 books for every child, but for families below the poverty line there are 300 children for every one book. I think this statistic really illustrates why we do what we do at M+B.
Finally, what is your biggest piece of advice for future interns? Be prepared to be spoiled. No internship will measure up after working at M+B.Thanks Carly for all of your TREMENDOUS hard work. We’ve never met anyone who could connect with kids quite like you can!

If you are interested in joining our internship program, check out our Opportunities page HERE.

by Caitlyn Young



As Milk+Bookies Staff, we are incredibly lucky to spend most of our days surrounded by storybooks.

With years of story times and book-raisers under our belt, we have over time created a long list of our favorite children’s books, a collection you can find on our website HERE.

We recently came across a new work titled Journey by Aaron Becker and fell in love. We knew instantly that this book belonged on our treasured list of favorites.

Becker’s debut picture book is filled with breathtaking illustrations including those featured above and below. With each new page, Journey follows a young girl on an adventure of a lifetime from one magical realm to the next within her own imagination.  The message of Journey is beautiful: there is nothing quite as magnificent as the creative power of our own imagination. Becker’s work inspires children to dream, to create, to imagine,  and we can’t think of anything more magical than that.

We’re not alone in our love for Journey. The New York Times Book Review wrote, “Though Becker has plenty of experience as an artist for films, “Journey” is his first book, and it’s a masterwork.”

Watch the trailer below to see for yourself the beauty of this new picture book:

Make sure to stock up this holiday season on plenty of copies of Aaron Becker’s Journey for your loved ones!


by Caitlyn Young

Splendid offers 50% for 5 Donated Books!


We are SO excited to announce our holiday partnership with Splendid!

Come into ANY Splendid store nationwide and receive 50% off an item for every 5 books you donate! Books can be new or gently used, and will benefit children right in your own neighborhood.

PLUS, if you’re an LA based family, the Los Angeles area Splendid locations will be hosting special story times next week! Bring your little ones in their jammies for cookies, cocoa, & bedtime stories read by a special guest reader!

Friday, December 13, 6PM at Splendid on Montana Avenue: 1324 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Saturday, December 14, 6PM at Splendid at The Grove: 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Happy shopping!

by Caitlyn Young