Newcomer author Marina Plumbi recently published a unique children’s book that is very special in Greek contexts. Last Sip, released by Sweet Serendipities, is a very sweet story that deals with the sensitive topic of the weaning process. The aim of the book, which was illustrated by Irini Thanou, is to help mothers and children to proceed step by step to natural weaning with love and understanding.
The National Herald: How did you first 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’ll put it specifically in terms of time and purpose. My intensive and goal-oriented involvement began when I moved to a new city about seven years ago. I had to give up my job and stay at home, as I had my first child at the time. So then I said to myself, “it’s now or never.” This is when I started attending online classes at the Creative Writing Department of the Tabula Rasa School in Athens. I feel like this is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
TNH: The Last Sip is a book on the very special subject of the weaning process. How did the writing of it come about and what gap does it fill in the children’s book field?
MP: My family and I lived abroad for a few years and when we returned 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 settled in Chania (Crete), I visited the Koukoubook bookstore and asked for a children’s book about the weaning of infants. I was surprised to hear the owner, who I was meeting for the first time at the time, tell me that there was no such book. It literally took just a few seconds for me to say that I would be the one to write it. Eleni and I now have a special bond, since for me she is one of those people in my life who changed my path. Simply by sharing a piece of information with me. When I spontaneously told her that I would write it, she urged me with an incredibly positive and natural tone to do so, despite 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 want to, and there are also mothers who want to 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 time for mothers too, not just for the child. This pressure is also increased by the environment which surrounds the mother, her job, her daily routine. On the other hand, the child is right in this transitional stage where a new period of autonomy begins. It is 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, an aid, a ‘tool’ (a description that is not mine, but of experts who have read it), in which the child may identify with the protagonist, little Sophia, and perhaps be assisted in his new beginning with a smooth transition. Of course, The Last Sip is in no way the remedy for achieving a smooth weaning process since this will only depend on when the mother-child-duo wishes to do so and will go by 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 of the structure of the story and had its main features in my mind. One night as I was breastfeeding my daughter and the story came to me as a poem. When my daughter fell asleep I ran to write down the lines because it’s very easy to forget them. Then I shaped them, enhanced them, and edited them. I am very glad that the creation came about in this way as it is very much loved by children. It is easy and fun for them to memorize lines.
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