profile: Maria Cordeiro
January 1, 2003
never too late to pursue your dreams of teaching kids important lessons
though art, according to designer Maria Cordeiro. Cordeiro parlayed
her 27 years experience as a banker and her lifelong love of painting
and embroidery into her own creative enterprise, Fine
Arts Authorship and Publishing. Using her experiences
working with children and art, Cordeiro created the Mushroom People
as a way to teach kids about the importance of the ecosystems around
them. Cordeiro wrote, designed and illustrated The Mushroom
People’s Summer, a story about the exploits of four
mushroom children in a forest, before branching out into making hand-made,
stuffed felt likenesses of her Mushroom People characters. She has
also designed posters and magnets with the same characters.
ToyDirectory Monthly (TDM): Where did the ideas for
the Mushroom People originate?
Maria Cordeiro (MC): From as far back as I can remember,
I would draw on covers, and I would even draw on walls. My mom was
not pleased with the way my art was taking over the house. The mushroom
people idea goes way back to when I was 11 or 12. My friend and I
used to sit around and think up this stuff and we’d even sing
a song about this. I would imagine mushroom people in the forest.
Later, I decided I needed to put some kind of human connection with
a forest idea because we are all connected to it. I wanted it to be
something unique, and I remembered the mushroom people.
What does your most recent book, Mushroom People’s Winter,
MC: In the winter book, I decided to bring up children’s
safety while they were playing. Children can play safely and still
have fun. It has three stories with the same characters [as in the
previous book]. One of the stories is about little girls taking chances
without precaution, another focuses on building an igloo and then,
snowshoeing with grandfather.
TDM: What does the future hold for you?
MC: My next book should be published around spring
2003, but it’s not about mushroom people. Instead, it will focus
on real people, for older children. The important message for them
is about confidence and believing in themselves and developing their
ideas and not giving up even if other people might put you down. It
doesn’t matter where in society you are: middle-class, wealthy,
poor. Everyone has some talent; they have to see it and develop it.
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