Interview with Mom’s Choice Award-Winner Michele Monaco

Michele Monaco MCA Interview Series Featured image

Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.

Today we are privileged to speak with author Michele Monaco, who holds a PhD in Sports Medicine. She has been an academician and researcher for over 20 years and, we’re happy to say, has recently directed her interests into creating children’s books. In her Mom’s Choice Award-winning Santa’s Magical Reindeer: Becoming Pen Pals, some of Santa’s reindeer go on a quest to find kids who believe in Christmas magic—and spot three girls who love Christmas and want to exchange letters with them. Preschoolers, toddlers and elementary-age kids can benefit from learning the value of reaching out, expressing curiosity, and having the friendship of others.

MCA: Michele, it’s so good to have you with us today. To get the interview started, would you tell us something about yourself?

I am originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I now live in Collegeville, PA. I am a proud mom of three beautiful girls and the owner of Sleigh Bell City. I created Sleigh Bell City to share my love of Christmas and the magic it brings. I am also a professor of Sports Medicine. In my free time, I love the outdoors, discovering new trails, and constantly trying new things. I want to spend more time traveling and immersing myself in various cultures. A fun fact is that I am fluent in Slovak.

MCA: And now you’ve started down a new path. What was your journey to becoming a writer like?

I have been on this journey for quite some time. I always enjoyed storytelling and inspiring imagination. Putting my story on paper initially was challenging because I wanted to put so much content into it but realized that the illustrations could also tell a story. By working with a fabulous illustrator, I was able to let my creative vision take place into an enchanted story.

MCA: Was there a specific inspiration for writing Santa’s Magical Reindeer: Becoming Pen Pals?

The inspiration for my first Christmas book is my three beautiful daughters—Corryn, Kylie and McKenna. I have always loved the magic of Christmas and I wanted to amplify that when I had children. I wanted them to feel the magical power and imagination that brings Christmas alive.

My kids were always curious about why there were so many deer around our home, and one day I told them that it was Santa’s reindeer that were coming down to watch over them and report to Santa. From that, it evolved to me writing letters to them from one of the deer that they saw in our yard. From there was born becoming pen pals with Santa reindeer. My kids started writing letters and drawing pictures and asking such inquisitive questions to their reindeer, and I so enjoyed writing back to them. That encouraged their creativity, which blossomed into this beautiful Christmas tradition that I just wanted to share with the world.

MCA: What a lovely story. Children can be such wonderful inspiration. Tell us, what are some of the key lessons children will find in the book?

One of the key lessons from the story is that kids need to continually use their imagination. They need to ask questions, write letters, and grow friendships.

Most importantly, I want readers to be inspired to keep joyful, creative innocence alive within them.

MCA: Such important messages for children. What kind of response has Santa’s Magical Reindeer received?

The responses have been amazing. I have done appearances with real live reindeer and had the opportunity to spark kids’ imaginations. These appearances are in local bookstores, large community Christmas tree lighting events, Christmas villages, and Christmas tree farms. I have become pen pals with many children and adults alike!

MCA: There’s nothing like Christmas decorations and fragrant live trees to get us in the spirit of the season! Please tell us more about Sleigh Bell City—it sounds enchanting.

Children and parents learn about Sleigh Bell City through my website that is found in many community flyers, book stores and community events. Kids write all sorts of letters to the reindeer at Sleigh Bell City. Some of my favorites are: Do you like hot dogs? Where do you go on vacation? What do you do at reindeer school? Have you ever done gymnastics? Does the North Pole have dog parks? Can reindeer swim? I have even received letters from parents who are also craving the innocence of Christmas hope and cheer.

MCA: We certainly hope you have more ideas for your Pen Pal-seeking reindeers and their friends. Do you have any plans in that direction?

This is the first book in a series of Christmas books. I have two Christmas storylines that are being prepared for the next holiday season. The reindeer get into some really exciting, fun endeavors in the next few books! It allows the children to get to know each reindeer’s personalities. And the next few books have additional captivating characters from Sleigh Bell City!

MCA: We’re so glad you ventured into writing children’s books and wish you all the best!

You can learn more about Michele Monaco and her award-winning book, Santa’s Magical Reindeer: Becoming Pen Pals by visiting her MCA Shop pages.

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5 Comments on “Interview with Mom’s Choice Award-Winner Michele Monaco”

  1. That seems like a beautiful book! It seems that “Santa’s Magical Reindeer: Becoming Pen Pals” conveys a heartfelt message about the wonder of Christmas and the value of friendship.

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