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About Natasha Wing
I started publishing books in 1994. To date I have had 19 books published with 4 on the way. Thirteen of those books are from my Night Before series. Several of the titles have been on best selling lists. Jalapeño Bagels came out in 1996 (15 yr. anniversary is 2011). As of 2009 the book is in its 15th printing. The story is included in several school anthologies that are geared to second grade readers.
The Inspiration for the Story
I wanted to write a multi-cultural story that reflected the blended cultures of families which to me is what Americans are more about. And I thought that symbolizing it through food would make for a universal way for people to relate to my story. I had just moved to Humboldt County from Arizona where there’s a Mexican influence, and I grew up in Connecticut where there are Jewish communities, so I thought combining those two would be interesting. After reading about Dennis in the Los Bagels Cookbook, I imagined him as a boy living in a house that celebrated traditions from both cultures and he became my main character. (The boy in the illustrations is actually the illustrator’s son whom he used as a model.) Even though Dennis’s Mom was Jewish and his father was Latino, I pictured them just the opposite, and because this story is fiction, I changed them. Then I needed a reason for the boy to wonder who he is so that’s why I have the teacher wanting the kids to bring something to school for International Day (something I made up, but it probably existed somewhere in the schools).
Dennis Rael...about Pablos' age
The setting is based on Los Bagels in Arcata, California. In order to describe how the jalapeño bagels are made in the book, I went to the bakery early one Sunday morning and watched the process. Since the illustrator lived in New York, and he knew that the story was based on a real bakery, he asked me to send photographs of the interior and some of the baked goods such as chango bars. He used the photos to create his watercolors.
Natasha Wing 2010
My favorite bagel is sesame seed with cream cheese and jalapeño jelly on one half and cream cheese with walnuts and raisins on the other half. I live in Fort Collins, CO with my husband, Dan, and cat, Jemima , and continue to write stories for kids.