This podcast interview is presented in partnership with María Castellucci Moore and The Children’s Book Review.
In this episode of The Growing Readers Podcast, María Castellucci Moore talks about Vivienne in Paris—winner of the Moms Choice Award.
Vivienne in Paris is a delightful picture book that inspires young readers to delve deep into their senses and observe how it ignites their emotions to find what makes them feel a unique joy.
Listen to the Interview
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Owner Entrepreneur, first-generation American, writer, and mother to four children. Maria Castellucci Moore strives to bring passion and enthusiasm to all her endeavors. A lover of all things European, María has found great passion through her travels to Paris, Italy, Spain, and South America. Her affection for winemaking, foreign languages, the arts, ballroom dancing, and traveling has given María a unique and grateful perspective on life. Her love for her family and helping others through charitable giving has enabled María to thoughtfully curate purposeful life adventures.
María Castellucci Moore earned her bachelor of arts degree in finance from Dominican University on a tennis scholarship and later pursued studies at New York University and the London School of Economics with a focus on global affairs. In 2016, with her siblings, Maria founded Castellucci Napa Family, a luxury wine and real estate brand. María runs her wine label and a family real estate development company in the greater Bay Area. She is a board member of the San Francisco Opera Guild and is enthusiastic about building opportunity and community through the arts.
María resides in Saint Helena, California, with her husband and four young children. She enjoys writing; traveling; attending the opera, ballet, and symphony; flower arranging; winemaking; ballroom dancing; and playing tennis and the piano.
Read the Interview
Bianca Schulze: Welcome to the Growing Readers Podcast, Maria. I’m so looking forward to talking to you about Vivienne in Paris for so many reasons. So, first of all, just a big welcome.
Maria Castellucci Moore: Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be here.
Bianca Schulze: So one of the reasons that I instantly took to your book was because I’m a little bit obsessed with the country of France myself. It’s so beautiful. I also think understanding the impact mindfulness can have on kids and adults alike is so important. Your book does that while also set in one of my favorite places. So before we settle in to talk about the book, I really just want to get to know you first, is that okay?
Maria Castellucci Moore: Yes, absolutely.
Bianca Schulze: Well, beyond being a published author now, you, along with your siblings, founded the Castellucci Napa family brand, which is a luxury wine and real estate brand where you run a wine label and a family real estate development company in the greater Bay Area.
Maria Castellucci Moore: Yes.
Bianca Schulze: You’re also the mother of four children, so tell us just a little bit about your life and what a typical day looks like.
Maria Castellucci Moore: Well, I’m so blessed to be able to work alongside my loving family, so that’s first and foremost, it’s truly a blessing. My parents were both born in Italy in the south, and I’m first generation here in America. And it’s just been a true honor and a blessing, really, to work alongside some really remarkable people that happen to be my parents and my siblings. My siblings and I—I’m the oldest of three—all work for my family in some capacity.
So, I head up the division in Napa, which goes everywhere from wine. I make wine, I sell wine, we sell direct to consumers, so we’re not big distributors by any means. We’re a pretty small luxury brand, about 1000 cases a year. And then we are also growers, so we have vineyards and I have a team that I manage in the vineyards, so we are growers for other wineries and we sell grapes to them.
And then I also manage the real estate side up here, so up in wine country. And my sister and brother do the other side in San Francisco. So we have all of our bases covered here with being a big family business. So it’s really a blessing.
And yes, four children, our youngest is almost two, so it is definitely a full house for sure. And honestly, these little kids have given me so much inspiration to create and they love to get lost in a good book. So honestly, I’m just really blessed and just feel very grateful for them for giving me so many tools to be successful.
So life around her is a circus, but it’s very fun. We live on a vineyard, we have chickens and bunnies and it’s like we live on this—I don’t want to call it a farm, but it’s a glorified farm if you will. Yeah, it’s a special place up here in wine country with the children and my family business, and getting this wonderful book really in a tangible place where people can hold it and feel it and read it and resonate with its message. I hope so. All good.
Bianca Schulze: Well, I know when I was reading just about what you do in a typical day, I was like, wow, it must be just go, go all of the time. So what’s one thing in your day-to-day practices that you think could inspire listeners?
Maria Castellucci Moore: Oh, that’s a great question. I would say make time for yourself.
I recently discovered that as an adult, an aged adult, if you will, make time for yourself. I now get up at 5:00 a.m. and I do my little exercise routine and meditation, and it’s changed my life, and has allowed me space and time to be creative, and that’s what brings me joy. Everyone has their own thing, and it’s like, discover what that thing is because you never know where it will take you. And I never knew my “thing” was writing and bringing a message that has really changed my life to children and adults alike. So I would say, create some space for yourself and you never know what will come of it.
Bianca Schulze: Well, you obviously created some space for yourself to sit down and write, Vivienne in Paris. I would love to know if being an author is something that you always dreamed of doing and becoming.
Maria Castellucci Moore: It is. And I have to say, when you say always, I would say from the time when I first became a mother, which was twelve years ago, that’s when it really kind of struck me that children receive so many wonderful messages through story. And I learned that by having my own children.
And it really sparked with my first child, Sophia. She’s twelve now, and seeing her just grab books at night for bedtime, and just seeing her enthusiasm with stories and pictures, and I thought, gosh, what would it be like to read your own book to your children someday? That would be just far out. I mean, that to me would be just so rewarding and fulfilling. So this was from when I say always it’s like I would say in the last twelve or 13 years. It was something that really resonated with me a little bit deeper as a mother.
Bianca Schulze: You’ve said your kids love to get lost in a good book, and they obviously love to read, so what do they think about your book?
Maria Castellucci Moore: Well, when I first got that book delivered, we got this big shipment, and I couldn’t even carry it. I had to have someone help me carry it. And when we opened the box together for the first time, they knew that Mommy was working on a project. And I shared some illustrations with them towards the end of the process, but I didn’t really share the whole story with them. I kind of wanted to bring that out kind of as a TADA when the book was actually in hand.
So they opened the package with me and then opened the book with me, and they were like, wow, you made this? How did you make this? How did you draw this? And I said, oh, well, I wish I could draw. That’s one thing I definitely cannot do. And so I found someone that is just an incredible artist. So I told them the story of how I found my illustrator, but they were really taken aback by just the idea of creating something that can be given to others, that can be shared. They loved the message. They thought it was really sweet.
And honestly, that first night of reading my book to my four kids was really outstanding. It was remarkable. I felt very, very rewarded in the sense that I hope I can inspire them to create something that means something to them because this book means so much to me. So really, it’s like, almost you’re a little bit speechless when you share something that you’ve worked so hard on and your children look up to you like, wow, you did this. And honestly, that’s not why I wrote the book. But to have your children kind of look up to you as this figure of inspiration and creation, it was really special.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah, it’s almost like showing them you can have a dream and you can put it out into the world.
Maria Castellucci Moore: Yes. And it allows them to think bigger. I think when they see their parent, who is like Groundhog Day every day and is making lunches and cleaning and laundry, and it’s like, wow, where did this come from? So I’m trying to instill in them not only a love of learning and creating but to have the confidence and self-love to be able to do something that really impacts them. And when you do something for yourself, you share it with the world in a different way. And there is some of that messaging in the book as well.
Bianca Schulze: Well, they say to be a writer that you need to be a reader first. So we know your kids love to read, and you’ve obviously enjoyed writing, but do you love to read yourself?
Maria Castellucci Moore: I do. Our entire family, including my husband, are very avid readers. And a lot of the books I love to read are about self-exploration and self-discovery books. I love nonfiction. I’m trying to get into more fiction, but I love nonfiction. I love learning. I love actually reading about how to be better and what great people do, what their routines are. I love to learn about how other people do things and how I can implement and just learn something new every day. So there’s a lot of that in my life.
Yes, I love to read, and we all do. So this was very fitting that I was able to publish a book.
Bianca Schulze: With everything that you’re sharing, I feel like this was your perfect debut children’s book. So let’s dig into it. Will you talk us through what readers can expect from reading Vivienne in Paris?
Maria Castellucci Moore: Yes, readers can expect to be delighted with all the sensorial. It’s like a trip down sensory lane if you will. Really, it’s about self-discovery and mindfulness and how that pairs with finding your true inner joy. And I would have to say that the illustrations really bring the book to life, so you can expect really beautiful artwork that really shows emotion.
I will also say it’s a story that uses a holistic approach to learning and feeling. And that is what I felt I had found that, personally, has the most profound results in my own life. And truly, this book is a direct reflection of me and what I have gone through in my own personal life and what I find to be most happy and joyful to me. So I think they’ll expect a sweet story that kind of counteracts our modern-day definition, if you will, of what happiness means and what happiness is. And it’ll make you want to go to Paris.
Bianca Schulze: Absolutely. If there was one, what was the particular seed of inspiration to write this particular story? Was there an “aha” moment or were you just playing around?
Maria Castellucci Moore: I learned through my own self-discovery and personal journey that happiness is unique to each and every individual. And I learned this as an adult through some challenging periods of my life. And I really wanted to create a story that would inspire the connection and conversation between the child and the adult so that children could actually use this book as a tool to find their own unique joy and start from a young age, not like me, where I waited till an adult to find out that it’s not selfish to discover yourself and to learn about self-love.
These are all big overarching words that meant nothing to me when I was growing up. I didn’t come from a household that really used emotion and feeling as a way as descriptors. I didn’t come from a house that spoke about feelings. And it was just, like, you just did certain things and that’s just what you did.
And so this book, to me, really kind of counteracts that one-size-fits-all for happiness that’s in our modern-day world. So I know this is a long-winded answer, but I have to say my own self-discovery journey is what inspired this book. And if I can create that conversation between a child and their loved one from a young age, then I’ve done my job.
Bianca Schulze: Absolutely. Do you have a favorite quote or two from the story that you’d be willing to share with us or even read to us?
Maria Castellucci Moore: Absolutely. Let me see here. I do have one that I really like. Let’s see. I have a couple. So I’ll start with this one. It says, “At this point, riding my bike seemed to draw my attention more so than any other day. Pedaling over the century-old stone street flagged my eye, and I felt the breeze through my hair with a sense of freedom and delight”
That’s one. And then the other one is:
“I was starting to feel different since my talk with Pappy earlier that morning. The more I noticed my senses, the greater joy I felt in my heart and body. I was amazed how different I felt doing the same things I did every Sunday.”
The common thread between those two quotes really is about pausing and focusing and being aware of not only your surroundings, but yourself, and how you can see through a different lens when you do that.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah, they’re beautiful. I mean, everything is so sensory. And you’ve talked a couple of times about the illustrations, and I feel when your words do combine with the artwork, there’s just so much to take in. So let’s talk about the illustrations a little bit. So your kids wanted to know, did you draw the pictures? And you said that you found an illustrator. So let’s hear a little bit about how you came to work with your illustrator.
Maria Castellucci Moore: Yes. So her name is Emanuela Manello, and she’s from Rome, Italy, and I immediately connected with her. We share the same culture, and I told her, my parents are from where you’re from. And so we immediately connected. Just from a cultural standpoint, we really connected. And she’s very gifted with her illustrations and the way she can draw with such emotion, you can truly take the words off of the page and actually just feel what Vivienne is feeling in every picture.
And that, to me, is why I chose her, because this book really is all about paying attention to yourself and using your five senses to explore the world around you and to feel a greater connection with yourself. And that’s what changes your perspective in life and, honestly, even just the little things that you’re around every day. Emanuela just really hit home with how great she was able to translate all of the emotions that Vivienne experiences on this typical Sunday. And she did it through art. So it was truly a collaborative effort between her, and I really thank her for this.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah, it turned out beautifully. And I just love the way that your text also asks questions and it really helps the reader to stop and ponder and to really get the gist of what you want them to do—to be in touch with their senses. So my next question for you is one that I pilfered directly from your book in which Vivienne’s grandpère asks, “Do you remember a time when you felt most alive, full of spirit, zestful, and sparkling with enthusiasm?”
So I want to direct that question back to you. Do you remember a time when you felt most alive, full of spirit, zestful, and sparkling with enthusiasm?
Maria Castellucci Moore: Yes, I do. Well, I have two answers for you. So the first one was when I got proposed to in the Luxembourg Gardens by my husband, and that is why the book is set in Paris. So those feelings and those emotions were very true to me in this city. So that’s my first answer.
My second answer was when I discovered my own unique joy. The book is basically a direct reflection of this, but flowers are my most favorite thing in the world. And for my readers and your listeners, I don’t want to give everything away, but Vivienne does find her kind of elation at the end and it really is a direct reflection back on me.
So when I went through my own process of self-discovery, that’s actually when I felt the most alive. And I was like, I’ve never been able to find a book that speaks to me in this way, so I’m going to create it myself, and I wanted to create it for a younger audience so that children can think of this and hopefully be moved by the message at a young age.
Bianca Schulze: Yes. Well, what impact do you hope Vivienne and Paris will have on readers?
Maria Castellucci Moore: I hope that the takeaway and the impact will be that they will stop to ponder into question their own happiness and know that each person is so unique and special in their own way. And happiness is not one-size-fits-all. It’s not what our modern society thinks you should look like, feel like, or walk through life like, it really is personal and individual. And I learned that for myself and I hope that my readers will stop and question that for themselves.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Incredible. Will you be writing more books with Vivienne? And if so, will you be exploring other countries and cultures?
Maria Castellucci Moore: I absolutely will. So my program is to write a book for each one of my children. So I plan to write four more books set in a different city in the world. I’d like to have it be set in cities that either I’ve lived in or had some very personal experiences in. So, yes, the answer is yes.
Bianca Schulze: Do we get any insight or do we have to hold tight?
Maria Castellucci Moore: No, I would hold tight. I will say, though, my next book will be about my oldest daughter first, so I’m going to start with the oldest and work my way toward the youngest. I look forward to sharing that with you.
Bianca Schulze: Well, before we go, if our listeners were to take away one really special sort of important point that you’d like everybody to take away, what would that be?
Maria Castellucci Moore: It would be to create that space for yourself, no matter what age you are, and really explore yourself. And with that self-exploration, you can explore the immediate world around you and look at it through a different lens. And I just really hope the takeaway and the inspiration will come to you, what’s unique to you. And I hope this book just makes you think differently about yourself and your surroundings and just think of happiness in a different way.
Bianca Schulze: And if there’s anything else that you want to share about Vivienne in Paris or yourself before we go, please do so.
Maria Castellucci Moore: Oh, my gosh. Well, Vivienne is one of my favorite girls’ names because people ask, Who’s Vivienne? And where did the name come from? So when I was pregnant with my fourth child, not knowing the gender, if it was a girl, it would have been Vivienne. That’s where the name was inspired from. And yeah, since I got proposed to in the city of Paris, that’s the setting why I set it in Paris. And I just hope all your listeners today and future readers really enjoy it and know that it was created with love.
Bianca Schulze: That’s beautiful. Well, Maria, thank you so much for being on the show today and for writing a book that encourages kids to feel joy by connecting with their senses.
Maria Castellucci Moore: It’s such a lovely feel-good story.
Bianca Schulze: And that’s exactly how I feel about our conversation today. So thank you very, very much.
Maria Castellucci Moore: Thank you so much for having me. This has been really special and I appreciate all your thoughtful questions. You’re amazing. So thank you so much.
About the Book
Vivienne in Paris
Written by Maria Castellucci Moore
Illustrated by Emanuela Mannello
Ages 4+ | 38 Pages
Publisher: Mascot Kids | ISBN-13: 9781637551431
Publisher’s Book Summary: Vivienne in Paris follows a young Parisian girl on a journey through Paris to find what makes her tick. Join Vivienne as she discovers the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of the city that make her feel alive. What better place to explore, observe, and delight in her senses than Paris?
This book tells a story of mindfulness and insight into how the surrounding world can really move you. It unites curiosity, wonder, and marvel to enlighten, surprise, and tickle your deepest spirit. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that bring you the greatest joy.
Buy the Book
For more information, visit https://mariacastelluccimooreauthor.com/.
- Running a luxury wine label and real estate brand while being a mom of four children.
- Becoming an author and adding this title to her repertoire.
- The joys of reading and getting lost in a good book.
- Vivienne in Paris and its message of mindfulness and the impact it has on readers.
Thank you for listening to the Growing Readers Podcast episode: Maria Castellucci Moore Discusses Vivienne in Paris. For the latest episodes from The Growing Readers Podcast, Follow Now on Spotify. For similar books and articles, you can check out all of our content tagged with Earth Day, Inclusion, Jennifer Swanson, Non-Fiction, and STEM.