An interview with Rosemary Wells, the author of Max & Ruby.
Why did you decide to take Max & Ruby to television?
I wanted them to meet millions of new young friends!
How has the transition been from writing and illustrating children's books to working in television?
As an author and illustrator I work by myself. In television, I'm part of a large team of creative people: artists, animators, writers, actors, musicians, and producers. It takes hundreds of people to bring my characters to life on screen.
What is the goal of the show?
Max & Ruby celebrates the relationship between Ruby and her younger brother, Max, and the universal nature of sibling relationships. It's as common an experience to many childhoods as Band-aids and birthdays. And what makes the relationship in the series compelling is that I've added salt and pepper to it, instead of sugar.
Are there ways that the show has had to be different from the books?
Yes. The television series centers on the familiar faces of Max and Ruby, but also introduces new characters and an expanded world with many brand-new stories written especially for television. Like the books, each of the shows is funny and gentle and makes a point for preschoolers. No difference there.
Are there things you can do in the show that you cannot do in print that are especially satisfying to you?
Max's toys are much funnier when they move in the show. The voices of Ruby and Max are wonderful. Everything moves and the music is great.
Would you describe for us the relationship between Max and Ruby? How does it work?
Ruby is seven and Max is three. Their relationship is based on my two kids when they were seven and three. Even though they love each other, Max and Ruby have very different ideas about everything. Max is mischievous and disorganized. Ruby is bossy, determined, and very organized. In each story Max wants one thing and Ruby wants something entirely different.
As in most other classic stories, we don't see Max and Ruby's parents, because I believe that kids resolve their issues and conflicts differently when they are on their own. The television series gives kids a sense about how these two siblings resolve their conflicts in a humorous and entertaining way.
As an active literacy proponent, do you have ideas and suggestions for how television and books can support each other?
I absolutely do. Some families already own copies of my books, and I encourage them to read the stories together either before or after watching the show. For those who don't have copies of the books, I'd encourage them to visit their local library. I hope that reading the Max & Ruby stories together will spark, or deepen, an interest in reading other authors' books too.