Illustrator Interview: Marilyn Scott-Waters & Blog Tour

About the Book

Title: A Year in the Life of the Secret Garden | Author: Valarie Budayr | Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters | Publication Date: November, 2014 | Publisher: Audrey Press | Pages: 144 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 99

Book Description: Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book. Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.

Amazon * Audrey Press * Goodreads

I found this book to be a wonderful resource of recipes, games and easy-to-make crafts. Reading it with three young siblings, I saw first-hand how adaptable it can be for different ages. We ended up making the strawberry freezer jam featured in the May section—it was easy and turned out great! I love the creative way this team has introduced the classic The Secret Garden to new generations. This book will get you reading, talking and making things—a great result!

Q & A with Marilyn Scott-Waters

I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview the person responsible for the guide’s rich illustrations and photos. Welcome, Marilyn!


 Tell us a little about your background and your path to becoming an illustrator.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator; however, my college counselor didn’t think that was a viable career option, so I ended up getting a degree in Comparative Literature, with the hopes of becoming a teacher. There were not a lot of teaching jobs when I graduated, but I had worked my way through college as a technical illustrator, so I started doing graphic design. After thirty years of doing everything from magazine work, clothing design and textiles, I returned to my first love, children’s books. 

 Did you take any photographs or do any research before starting this project?

I like to be as accurate as possible when doing historical illustration, especially in drawing clothing, so I gathered a digital archive of hundreds of photos of Edwardian life. There is such a range of classes in the story, everything from gardeners and upstairs maids to doctors and wealthy children. It was fascinating research.


The illustrations, photographs and paper cut-outs are an integral part of this book. How closely did you work with the author, Valarie Budayr?

My friend,Valarie Budayr, is one of the cleverest people I know and is a delight to work with. We emailed and Skyped all the time. I think that having the illustrator and the writer collaborate closely leads to a better end product, something that you don’t find very often in traditional publishing.

 Why should someone read this book?

You should read A Year In The Secret Garden if you love nature and are curious about Edwardian life. It’s filled with character studies, recipes, crafts, and outdoor activities that bring the original story into the real world.

How long did it take for you to complete your work on this book?

It took about a year to create all the art. There are over seventy illustrations and color photos and drawings on every page. It really was a joy to do, with lots of flower and animal drawings.

 Can you tell us a bit about your artistic process from beginning to end?

First I read and reread the manuscript to come up with a list of possible illustrations for the book. Then I create digital reference files so that the details will be accurate. I also went through and wrote down every physical description of the characters I could find. Then I sketch the drawings on high quality printing paper and scan them into my computer. I do all the coloring digitally to look like watercolor.


What inspires you?

Color! I love looking at things that have interesting color palettes. I love wandering through fabric stores and antique stores just looking at stuff. I also have a pretty big collection of applied art from the turn of the last century. I find it fascinating how good design can make practical items beautiful.

 What is your favorite part of this book?

The jump rope rhymes were the best! I had so much fun drawing “Cinderella dressed in green,” “The Elephant jumped over the fence,” and “The King of France.”

 How familiar were you with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, the children’s classic which your book is based upon?

I grew up reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s books: The Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden. I was pretty much a bookworm. I reread it before I started the illustrations. But it was Valarie that really got me excited about the story behind the story. She researched the heck out of everything—Burnett’s pet robin, her belief in positive affirmations, even the meaning of the character’s names. There are so many wonderful themes in the book: the healing power of friendship, the importance of experiencing nature firsthand, and the need for children to eat wholesome food and get fresh air—things that as applicable to today’s children as much as one hundred years ago.

 What is the best question/comment you have received from a child during a school visit or in an e-mail or letter?

I’ve answered over eight thousand emails in the last ten years from people all over the world. I think that the funniest thing that I was ever asked was if I could draw a duck-billed platypus. I did my best. Another email that sticks out was from a teenage girl in New Zealand that told me she was the oldest of seven children and that they didn’t have a lot of money, so they made toys off my website for Christmas. It made me feel a bit like Santa Claus.


 What is the main message that you hope to convey through your work as an illustrator and paper toy engineer?

My main goal is to help grownups and kids spend time together making things. Kids spell love:T-I-M-E, and often grownups don’t know how to get kids away from the computer screen and to the kitchen table to talk. Also, it’s good to be creative, to make things with your hands. We learn by doing.

Do you have any new projects that you would like to tell us about?
I’m finishing up the second Haunted Histories book and also working on paper toys for my website I send out a free newsletter every month to over 30,000 people that has paper toys and craft ideas. Plus, I like writing my own stories too. I think I need a extra day in the week to get everything done.

About the Author: Valarie Budayr

Valarie BudayrValarie Budayr loves reading and bringing books alive. Her popular website,, inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure.

She is founder of Audrey Press, an independent publishing house, as well as an Amazon and iTunes best-selling author. She has written The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Valarie is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and encouraging families and schools to pull books off the shelves and stories off the pages.

Book Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Pinterest | Google+ | Goodreads

About the Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters

Marilyn Scott-WatersMarilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper. Her popular website,, receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things.

She is the creator of a paper toy craft book series The Toymakers Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling), and The Toymakers Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling). She is also the co-creator with J. H. Everett of the middle grade nonfiction series, Haunted Histories, (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). Ms. Scott-Waters illustrated The Search For Vile Things (Scholastic), and created paper engineering for Pop & Sniff Fruit (Piggy Toes Press).

Website | Facebook | Google+

A Year in the Secret Garden Blog Tour Schedule (2014)


November 1

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch)

Coffee Books & Art (Guest Post)

WS Momma Readers Nook (Book Review)

November 2

Cherry Mischievous (Excerpt)

Hope to Read (Excerpt)

November 3

Eloquent Articulation (Book Review)

Enter Here Canada (Excerpt)


November 4

BeachBoundBooks (Excerpt)

Books, Babies and Bows (Book Review)

November 5

Monique’s Musings (Book Review)

November 6

SOS-Supply (Book Review)


November 7

Randomly Reading (Book Review)

November 8

Adalinc to Life (Book Review)


November 9

100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

November 10

Edventures With Kids (Book Review)


November 11

Icefairy’s Treasure Chest (Book Review)

November 12

Girl of 1000 Wonders (Book Review)


November 13

Seraphina Reads (Guest Post)

November 14

Juggling Act Mama (Book Review)


November 15

Pragmatic Mom (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Purple Monster Coupons (Excerpt)

November 16

Stacking Books (Book Review)


November 17

Oh My Bookness (Book Review)

November 18

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures (Book Review)


November 19

The Blended Blog (Book Review)

November 20

All Done Monkey (Book Review)

November 21

Geo Librarian (Book Review)


November 22

My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 23

Christy’s Cozy Corners (Book Review)

My Life, Loves and Passions (Book Review)

November 24

Bookaholic Chick (Excerpt)

Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking (Book Review)


November 25

Ninja Librarian (Guest Post)

November 26

Jane Ritz (Book Review)

Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 27

I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (Book Review)


November 28

Deal Sharing Aunt (Book Review)

November 29

Mommynificent (Book Review)

November 30

This Kid Reviews Books (Book Review)

Java John Z’s (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Grandbooking (Author/Illustrator Interview)

* $100 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Amazon 100 gift card

Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: December 7, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

6 Responses to “Illustrator Interview: Marilyn Scott-Waters & Blog Tour”

  1. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book ReviewsRe

    Great interview with Marilyn, Belinda! The artwork in the book is absolutely gorgeous. Interesting how you were told that illustrating children’s books was not a viable career – Boy, were they wrong!! Although, of course now I’m expecting to see that drawing of a duck-bill platypus! 🙂 Thanks for hosting Marilyn in the “A Year in the Secret Garden” Blog Tour, Belinda.

  2. Grandma Kc

    Great interview — illustrations really can bring a book to life. I remember a couple of books from my own childhood which had illustrations that I just loved and looked at often. You do get to meet some interesting people!