New author Marina Plumbi recently published a unique children’s book that is very special in Greek contexts. Last Sip, published by Sweet Serendipities, is a very sweet story that deals with the sensitive subject of the withdrawal process. The purpose of this book, illustrated by Irini Thanou, is to help mothers and children step through natural weaning with love and understanding.
The National Herald: How did you start writing?
Marina Plumbi: Since the phrase “I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember” is common among people involved in writing, I’m going to put it specifically in terms of time and purpose. My intensive, goal-oriented engagement began when I moved to a new city about seven years ago. I had to quit my job and stay home, as I had my first child at the time. So I thought “it’s now or never”. That’s when I started taking online classes at the creative writing department of the Tabula Rasa school in Athens. I feel like it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
TNH: The Last Sip is a book on the very particular subject of the withdrawal process. How did we come to writing and what gap does it fill in the field of children’s books?
MP: My family and I lived abroad for a few years and when we got home I literally visited every bookstore I came across. Unfortunately, when you live abroad, you don’t have easy access to Greek books. When we moved to Chania (Crete), I visited the Koukoubook bookstore and asked for a children’s book on infant weaning. I was surprised to hear the owner, whom I was meeting for the first time at the time, telling me that such a book did not exist. It literally took me seconds to say that I would be the one writing it. Eleni and I now have a special bond, because for me, she is one of those people in my life who changed my path. Simply by sharing information with me. When I spontaneously told her that I was going to write it, she pushed me with an incredibly positive and natural tone to do so, even though she was seeing me for the first time.
TNH: Why is the weaning process so important and how can the last sip help young mothers?
MP: The weaning period is a very important and sensitive time for both the child and the mother. It deals with the mother-child duo. There are mothers who want to wean, there are mothers who don’t, and there are also mothers who want and don’t want at the same time. They all feel the same knot in their stomachs when they realize it was the last sip. So it’s a very emotional moment for the mothers too, not just for the child. This pressure is also increased by the environment surrounding the mother, her work, her daily life. On the other hand, the child is right in this transitional stage where a new period of autonomy begins. It’s a difficult separation, but it marks the beginning of a new, more independent journey for the child. The last sip is presented as a tale, a help, a “tool” (a description not mine, but that of experts who have read it), in which the child can identify with the protagonist , little Sophia, and perhaps be helped in her new beginning with a smooth transition. Of course, The Last Sip is by no means the cure-all for successful weaning since it will only depend on when the mother-child duo want it and follow their own rules.
TNH: The Last Sip is written in rhyming verse. Why did you choose this style?
MP: First of all, it came naturally to me. I had already thought about the structure of the story and had in mind its main characteristics. One night while breastfeeding my daughter, the story came to me in the form of a poem. When my daughter fell asleep, I ran to write the lines because it’s very easy to forget them. Then I shaped, improved and edited them. I am very happy that the creation was born in this way because it is very popular with children. It’s easy and fun for them to memorize lines.