A Mom for Umande by Maria Faulconer - A Book and a Latte
Please help me welcome a very special guest, Maria Faulconer, the author of A Mom for Umande! She’s stopping by for an interview as part of her blog tour for her beautiful, heart-string tugging, picture book based on a true story. Learn more about Umande below, check out my review and her Q & A, and the be sure to enter her fantastic giveaway!

A Mom for Umande by Maria Faulconer

The heart-tugging true story of how a baby gorilla found love in the arms of a surrogate mom.

When Umande was born, his mother didn’t know how to take care of him. So, he was hand-reared by keepers at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. For eight months, the keepers crawled on the ground with him to show him how to walk; coughed in his face to teach him discipline; and gave him happy gorilla grumbles to encourage him. But for Umande, something was still missing. Luckily, a thousand miles away at the Columbus Zoo, a mom was waiting just for him.

This touching true story about finding a family will resonate with animal lovers and adoptive families alike.

Illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Thoughts

A Mom for Umande most definitely tugged at my heart-strings! I appreciated that this story showed that not everyone is equipped to be a good mother/parent, I think that’s really important. I loved seeing the human-animal relationship between the keepers and Umande, and how the keepers found a surrogate mother for him. Also, the illustrations are a beautiful complement to Umande’s adoption story. A Mom for Umande is a wonderful addition to any child’s library!

*Disclosure: Maria Faulconer is my client through Jen Halligan PR. When I read A Mom for Umande, I knew I had to help get the word out about this amazing true story!

Q & A with Maria Faulconer

I love that A Mom for Umande is an adoption story. What inspired you to write it?

It was such a serendipity! One day, a dear friend showed me a newspaper photo of a baby gorilla snuggling in the arms of his surrogate mom. An adoptive mom myself, I was so captivated by the joy of their faces that I knew I had to write a story about this resilient little gorilla.

What’s amazing is that I never met Umande in person. When I saw the photo, he’d already been sent to the Columbus Zoo to meet his surrogate mom. So I learned about him through photos and interviews with the amazing keepers at the Cheyenne Mountain. Zoo. They loved him so much that I fell in love with him, too!

What was your publishing process like?

Great question! I sold my book in six days to a wonderful editor at Dutton Books. And it took seven years for the book to come out! During that time, I had four editors and the imprint changed from Dutton to Dial Books for Young Readers. But it was worth the wait!

What were your most rewarding experiences since publishing A Mom for Umande?

During my first book signing, I was overwhelmed with the number of volunteers from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo who stood patiently in line. They told me that they had been Umande’s caregivers during those first eight months–spending 24/7 holding him and being his surrogate moms and dads. The love they felt for this little guy touched my heart!

The next rewarding experience was waking up one morning to learn that A Mom for Umande had received a starred review in Kirkus and was featured in the New York Times and USA Today book sections as recommended reading for Mother’s Day! What a thrill!

Were you a reader as a child? Did you have a favorite book?

Yes! Both my parents worked, so I spent a lot of time hanging out in the library. In fact, my favorite possession as a child was my library card! I still have it–a small, well-worn orange card. It opened me up to wondrous worlds. I loved all the Madeleine books, and I couldn’t put down the Nancy Drew mysteries. When I grew up, I wanted to be just like Nancy–driving around in her snappy red roadster, solving mysteries!

When you write – do you use a computer, or pen and paper?

You won’t believe this! I actually began writing my first book, “Arianna and the Strawberry Tea,” in the dark, in the middle of the night, on a piece of paper in a hotel room because I knew my husband would kill me if I turned on the light! The night before, I’d met a little girl named Arianna in the dining room. She totally captivated me with her flashing brown eyes and bright blue coat, and I couldn’t stop looking at her. Her favorite book was Madeleine, too. That night, I had my first inspiration and had to write it down!

What’s your favorite book?

One of my favorite books is Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” Even though it’s a book about writing, it has so much wisdom about life. It’s one of those books that I keep coming back to. Whenever I need some inspiration, I close my eyes, open it to a random page and start reading. It never fails to speak to me.

Are you working on something new? Can you tell us what’s coming next?

I’m actually writing a YA novel. Even though it’s a departure from writing picture books, my background is in teaching and counseling high school kids. And this is a story that’s been calling to me for a long time. It’s a mystery/suspense novel…so I’m finally fulfilling my childhood dream to be Nancy Drew!

Do you have a favorite quote?

I love this Anne Lamott quote, especially the part about radical silliness.


I love it, thanks so much for stopping by!

Tour Schedule

Monday, January 12th – Geo Librarian

Tuesday, January 13th – A Book and a Latte

Wednesday, January 14th – Bumbles and Fairy-Tales

Friday, January 16th – In Between the Pages

Monday, January 19th – Such a Novel Idea

Wednesday, January 21st – Mundie Kids

Friday, January 23rd – Adoption Mama

Monday, January 26th – WS Momma Readers Nook

Wednesday, January 28th – A Leisure Moment

Friday, January 30th – Historical Fiction Obsession

Maria FaulconerAbout Maria Faulconer

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Maria Faulconer has published fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She loves writing stories, especially ones that tug at the heartstrings. A huge animal lover, and an adoptive mom herself, she knew when she saw a photo of a baby gorilla snuggling with his surrogate mom that she had to tell their story – A Mom for Umande. Her first children’s book, Arianna and the Strawberry Tea, was used for a statewide literacy program. She currently writes for Colorado Springs Style magazine and is working on a YA novel. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.


Winner will receive a gift basket that includes a $50 Amazon gift card, a copy of A MOM FOR UMANDE, a stuffed baby gorilla, a gorilla zoo book, a miniature wooden zoo train set, Gummi Bears, and rock candy!


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6 Responses to Review/Interview: A Mom for Umande by Maria Faulconer

  1. Joseph Hawkshaw says:

    I liked the mystery of the hardy boys very good.

  2. Maria faulconer says:

    Thanks so much for being a part of my blog tour…and letting me share my love for UMANDE!

  3. Favorite book from childhood? Oh my gosh, I had so many favorites. When I was really little, I liked just about any book that had animals in it, real or imaginary. Where the Wild Things Are was always high on my list.

    I’m expecting two little ones in the spring and I would love to share this cute story with them (as well as all the goodies 🙂 ).
    Meg @ A Bookish Affair recently posted..Exciting News!My Profile

  4. Laura McLendon says:

    I am in love with this sweet story. I enjoyed the Q&A. Thanks for that awesome Anne Lamott quote!!

  5. bn100 says:

    Tom Sawyer

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