Anika Denise and Tomato

image1Today the fabulous children’s author Anika Denise joins me to talk about loveys as I launch my new Lucy’s Lovey (#WhosYourLovey) blog series, where kids, KidLit people, etc. share their childhood lovey stories. In my new picture book, Lucy’s lovey is her favorite among her seventeen doll babies, the one and only Smelly Baby.

Thank you, Anika, for stopping by to answer some lovey questions!

As a child, who was your lovey?

Well, this may sound a little odd, but she was a tomato. Not in the Sophie’s Squash tradition of having a perishable lovey—but rather, my lovey was a tomato pillow, made for me from a kit, by my Grandma Ines. I called her (rather unoriginally) Tomato.

tomato_pillow_What was your relationship with your lovey?

She was my forever bedside companion. When my grandmother first gave her to me, I wasn’t sure I liked her. She had large eyes that seemed to stare endlessly. And legs! And leaf-hands! No doubt about it, she was a little strange. But gradually, she grew on me. I came to appreciate her happy expression and floral tights with blue lace-up high top sneakers. I liked coming home to see her sitting plump and cheerful at the head of my bed. She wasn’t overly stuffed with batting; she was squishy and fun to cuddle. Over time, she became lumpier and lumpier, but that only made me love her more. Tomato came with me to sleepovers and to summers spent in upstate New York. I buried my face in hers and cried when my guinea pig died—and when my parents split up. She was weird and lumpy and perfect, and even though I sometimes hid her behind my other pillows when friends came over, I loved her.

anika_trikeDid your lovey ever get lost, and do you still have it?

She was never lost, to my knowledge. But I don’t have her anymore. Oddly, I can’t recall consciously making a decision to get rid of Tomato, but at some point, I must have let her go. I think it was after my first year of college, when my mom moved out of New York. It makes me a little sad, to be honest, that I can’t remember why or when I decided I was too grown up for a quirky but well-loved tomato pillow.

What did your lovey smell like and was it ever washed?

She smelled like shampoo (Suave), and possibly a little like drool. I do remember my mom insisting she be washed occasionally, which always made me anxious. Sewn from a pattern on my grandmother’s ancient sewing machine, she was always one-popped seam from disaster. But somehow, she held.

denisegirlsloveysWas your childhood lovey passed down to your children or did they connect with their own (different) loveys?

Sadly, Tomato went to the big vegetable garden of lost loveys before getting to meet my kids. Too bad, they would have liked her, I think. But they do all have their own special loveys. For my oldest, it’s a floppy Gund puppy with a spot over one eye called Spot. For my middle: a bulldog she affectionately (and hilariously) named Gigi. And for my little one, a Jellycat teddy bear upon whom she bestowed the classic name, Pooh-Bear. It feels, in a way, like their loveys chose them, rather than the other way around.

I think back and wonder why I was chosen by a tomato pillow. Perhaps it was to remind me that quirky is interesting, and a few lumps only means you’ve lived a full and well-loved life.

monstertrucks-cvr-approvedAnika Denise is the author of several critically acclaimed books for young readers including three illustrated by her husband Christopher Denise: Baking Day at Grandma’s, Bella and Stella Come Home, and Pigs Love Potatoes. Publishers Weekly hailed her latest picture book, Monster Trucks, illustrated by Nate Wragg, “a mash up made in heaven” in a recent starred review. When not writing tales of vroom and doom, Anika can be found zipping around her hometown of Barrington, Rhode Island in her monster minivan, or reading not-so-scary stories with her husband and three kids. Visit her online at www.anikadenise.com, or on Twitter @AnikaDenise.

For anyone who would like to share their childhood lovey story, along with pictures, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment on my blog, message me through my Facebook page, or email me via my website with your contact information.

7 thoughts on “Anika Denise and Tomato

  1. Tomato is such a great lovey! I had a bear named Butterscotch and a blanket that I adored. I still have them. They were well loved in childhood and now enjoying a quiet retirement in my memory box. 🙂

  2. So sweet! I had (and still do) a striped elephant, also unimaginatively called Elephant. It came with an autography pen, and now I treasure those signatures and messages from the people I love.
    Just like Anika’s story touched me and called up memories, I know, Betsy, that your book will touch so many!

    1. Thanks, Lisa, for sharing your lovey story. How lucky you are to have the signatures and messages from people you love.

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