Author and Illustrator Bethanie Deeney Murguia

By Mia Brady

Bethanie Deeney Murguia is a multi-talented woman, to say the least. The Phi Beta Kappa graduate of University of Rochester studied psychology, and took statistics and fine arts as an undergraduate, speaking highly of her time spent studying liberal arts. “I am proud of my liberal arts background — I believe that a broad education is necessary for people in creative fields. We need to be thinkers as well as great technicians in the mediums we choose,” says Murguia. After graduation, she headed to New York City in search of her own artistic voice, and to work as an art director for a magazine. Murguia went on to complete her MFA at the School of Visual Arts, where she found the perfect combination of illustration, fine art, and writing.

Murguia is an art director, illustrator, and author, and she is also a mother of two little girls. It was motherhood that led her to reconnect with her passion for children’s picture books instilled at such a young age reading Dr. Seuss stories with her grandfather and making up stories while playing in the woods behind her home. “When I became a parent a few years ago, my storytelling impulses went into overdrive. My children inspired me, and I was reading stacks and stacks of picture books every day,” says Murguia. Knowing this about her, there is no question from where the idea for Zoe Gets Ready was born.

Zoe Gets Ready, published by Scholastic this year, is the adorable story of a typical morning for Zoe, who proves to be quite the imaginative and indecisive little girl. Zoe Gets Ready displays Zoe’s vast creativity through her clothing choices. Should she wear a purple skirt if she’ll be twirling today? Or a bright pink tutu and scarf if she’ll want to stand out? Or her orange pocketed sweatshirt, if she’ll be exploring and need lots of room for treasures? Murguia takes the daily task of getting dressed and turns it into an adventure.

“I have observed plenty of dressing up and getting dressed in the past few years. I’ve been fascinated by how my daughter and some of her friends choose outfits based on their expectations for the day. “What if I need to jump, twirl, cartwheel? What if it snows? What if I have to climb a mountain? That belief in infinite possibilities inspires me,” says Murguia.

Infinite possibilities is exactly what Zoe Gets Ready represents. It is a beautiful reminder of what each day might bring. Bethanie Deeney Murguia combines her experience of motherhood with her artistic and writing talents, and also a childhood sense that anything can happen, to create a memorable story that will keep parents and children alike smiling. “I strive to write books and make pictures in which both parents and children will find humor and truth,” says Murguia. There is no question that Zoe Gets Ready does just this.

Mia Brady is a senior at Elon University majoring in English with a concentration in professional writing and rhetoric. Elon is home to the Eta of North Carolina chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.