Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Roxie Munro

We are excited to introduce ROXIE MUNRO, author-illustrator, app guru and all around talented (and sweet!) artist!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I've written/illustrated over 35 books. Have also created 3 apps, with 11 more coming out fall 2014. I've been a freelance artist all my life; won 1st prize in a county-wide art contest for a still life when I was 6, and had my photo in the paper - a great incentive! Earlier in my career I was a TV courtroom artist, did editorial work for magazines and newspapers, and have had 14 New Yorker magazine covers published.

What are you working on at the moment?

A nonfiction maze book, MarketMaze (Holiday House, spring 2015), about where food comes from and how it arrives at a town's farmers' market. Also, wrapping up work on a long-time book project, KIWiStoryBooks (Kids Interactive Walk-in Story Books) which will come out in fall 2014...ten huge life-sized lavishly illustrated and researched "picture books," with an interactive AR (augmented reality) app for each.


How do you get an idea for an app?

My first (of six) maze book, Mazescapes, was published in four languages, including Dutch. A dad, Omar Curiere, in Amsterdam sent me a fan letter on behalf of his 6- year-old son. A few years later he approached me to do apps - he owns a graphics company doing virtual reality videos for architects, city planners. I was thrilled. Omar started a new division of his company, OCG Studios, and we've done lots of apps together. He also builds great apps for other authors and illustrators.

Rather than licensing my books back from my publishers, we decided to do an original idea, based on the previous maze books. I created a giant 3.5 by 5 foot maze (ultimately creating 16 screens), and 400 spot drawings for animations.

It became "Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure," for the iPhone and iPad. It got lots of awards and is ranked (selling) in more than 70 countries. The rights to one of my Chronicle books, DOORS, reverted back to me. I got the scans, did a bunch more spots for animations, and we made the 3-D app, "Roxie's Doors," which went on to get some awards too. And last fall we made "Roxie's Puzzle Adventure," a new jigsaw puzzle app for IOS (iPad and iPhone), Android and Google Play, using the art from the maze app. You can choose between 6 and 260 pieces for each of the 16 puzzles. (This app was picked by School Library Journal has one of the Ten Best of 2013.)

What genre are your books?

Most are nonfiction; some are concept books. Some use "gamification" (mazes, lift- the-flap, seek-n-find, counting, inside-outside concepts, ABCs, guessing games) to impart information in a fun way, and engage children.

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What advice would you give to other writers/illustrators?

Join SCBWI. Work hard, don't give up. Write, then rewrite, then rewrite, then rewrite. Stay original and true to yourself; don't worry about trends or what you THINK people want. Part of your job is to create something that people, after they see or read it, realize that they needed or wanted it.

BTW, June 22 to 24, I will be on the faculty of the 21st Century Nonfiction Children's Conference being held at SUNY, New Paltz, NY. I'll be doing programs on apps, the "gamification" of children's books, and the current market and styles of children's book illustration

Do you like anchovies on your pizza (it seems that a lot of authors like anchovies on pizza)?

:) Nope.

Roxie is an award-winning author/illustrator of more than 35 books for children, primarily nonfiction. Her books have been translated into French, Italian, Dutch, Chinese, and Japanese. Recent books: "Slithery Snakes"; "Hatch!"; "EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures"; "Desert Days, Desert Nights"; "Inside-Outside Dinosaurs"; and "Busy Builders".

"Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure" and "Roxie's Puzzle Adventure" are interactive animated maze game apps; "Roxie's Doors" is a 3-D animated book app (OCG Studios, developer). Roxie also did all the art for the new product KIWiSTORYBOOKS (Kids Interactive Walk-in Story Books).

She creates oils, watercolors, prints, and drawings, primarily cityscapes, which are exhibited widely in the US in galleries and museums. Roxie's work is in numerous private, public, and corporate collections.

Roxie Munro studied at the University of Maryland, the Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore), received a BFA in Painting from the University of Hawaii, attended graduate school at Ohio University (Athens), and received a Yaddo Fellowship. She lectures in museums, schools, conventions, and teaches watercolor on ships, workshops, and in the Paint in Italy program.

Many of her paintings are views from the roof of her sky-lighted loft studio in Long Island City, just across the East River from her home in mid-Manhattan. Roxie is married to the Swedish writer/photographer, Bo Zaunders.

Roxie Munro

TWITTER: (@roxiemunro) 

App & Trailer Developer OCG STUDIOS: 


  1. Congratulations on your inspiring eclectic portfolio, Roxie. Your support to those of us creating content in our chosen fields is always so appreciated.
    Rewriting and staying true to oneself resonates, certainly.

    1. Yes, Eiry - and you also are invested in creating good material for children. I think that sometimes the standard traditional publishing folks don't think outside of the box enough. There is so much exciting potential for cool ideas to be implemented in new media. You still need great well-written researched content, but maybe it's okay to do it in multi-media . The public may be ahead of the curve ...

  2. What a great interview, Roxie! I am so inspired by your art, your philosophy, and your confidence in thinking AND working outside of the box. I love what you say about introducing the public to the need they didn't know they had. You're leading the way! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! It's such fun, actually, to be involved in the kidlit world - and a lot of the excitement and pleasure is working with the people who, like you, populate it: the authors and illustrators, librarians, teachers, app makers, a whole assortment of engaged creative folks...

  3. Awesome interview. I love how you set your own path and saw the benefits of apps way ahead of others. So inspiring.

  4. Thank you so much, Roxie! You are a true trail blazer, thanks for sharing "you" with "us!"

  5. I wish I could attend that Nonfiction Children's Conference! Your career has been so amazingly varied and brilliant, Roxie, I am just completely in awe. My kids are too old for (and not interested in) apps, but I love reading your books on my own for fun. And I love that photo of you lying on your illustration table to work on your art! You make it all look like so much fun and deceptively easy to write and illustrate for kids.

    Great interview, Roxie, and Kidlit411! :)