An Interview with Madelaine Black, author of Kobe Ketchup and the Food Bank Adventure

March 29, 2023

We joined Madelaine Black as she read her new children's story, Kobe Ketchup and the Food Bank Adventure, to hundreds of children on World Book Day! This uplifting and timely tale teaches children (and adults) about need, giving, receiving, and how we can all make a difference.

This book is published in support of Bankuet - the UK's first digital zero-waste food platform, and the number one supplier of food to food banks. For every copy of this book sold, £1 goes to a food bank in the Bankuet network.

Find out more about the fantastic work that Bankuet does here.

Watch the World Book Day reading here 👇

Purple Mash subscribers can read Kobe Ketchup inside Purple Mash, and print copies can be ordered from Amazon.

About the Author

What was your favourite subject at school apart from English?

Elm Class

I loved history, I supposed because I like stories. I even went to university and studied history. I love the stories about Henry VIII chopping peoples’ heads off! I also love reading about inventions – my family know I love going to factories to see how things are made.

What were you doing before you became an author?  

Shapla, Walthamstow Primary

If there’s a company or a charity that wants to give a message to the public, because they need to raise money or they want peoples’ help, I try and come up with an idea that will attract peoples’ attention and get them connected and involved.

What inspired you to start writing in the first place? 

Sasha, Birkwood Primary

I always loved writing, and have had a career writing adverts. I loved writing stories at school (sometimes I used to get in trouble because I wrote funny stories!). I always feel so good when I’ve had an idea and put it on paper. It’s such a lovely feeling of coming together when I share it with people and see how they respond.

Madelaine Black, author

Why did you decide to write books for children?

Tiarna, Royles Brook

I have grandchildren and I love telling them silly stories, making them up when they go to bed. The trouble is though, that they get too excited and they are more excited after the story! I get in trouble with their parents because I was supposed to calm them down ready for sleep!

How many books have you written? How long does it take you to write a book? 

Year 2, Adderley Primary

This is the second book I’ve written, the first book was about Super Carrot and an Onion. I had the idea for Kobe Ketchup and the Food Bank Adventure in my head for quite a long time, and then I sat down to plan out the pages and the story, made some notes over a couple of weeks... but I sat down and wrote the basis of it in one night! But that’s only the beginning of a book. Sam and his team at Purple Mash Publishing helped me craft it and edit it, and make it the story you hear today.

Kobe Ketchup Front Cover

What time in the day do you like to write?

Bluebell Class, Totworth Primary

Usually very early in the morning, or very late at night when it’s quiet! Sometimes, once I’ve started I don’t even notice the time and I’ve been there until 3 or 4 in the morning...then I pretend that I wasn’t so I don’t get in trouble! Normally I say I will spend two hours per day on it, but then when I get started I just get sucked into it!

How long does it take you to write a book?

From my idea, I spent one evening scribbling down all my notes for the book, and then the next evening I wrote it all into a rhyme. It wasn’t very good at that stage! Thanks to the Purple Mash Publishing team, we polished and shined it up which took quite a few weeks.

How many books have you written in one day?

Well I’ve only written one book in about a month! I have written a song or a poem in a day. Jotting down all the ideas for this book I did in a few hours, but it took a long time to get to that point, and to get to a finished story.

If we wanted to write a book, where would we start? 

Class 2O, Adderley Primary

First of all, you would need to have an idea – maybe you have something you want to say and you want to find an interesting and fun way to say it? Then I think the thing to do is jot down some notes of those things that come into your head and think about it for a few days. As you start to think about it, things will start to come alive – maybe some characters will develop, some words will appear in your mind... keep on jotting it down! Then you can start writing it page by page, making sure there’s lots of room for pictures. When you’ve finished writing it, read it to a family member or a friend and see what they think. Maybe you could hand it in to your teacher, maybe you could start illustrating it and then see where it goes!

Do you have an author you are inspired by? 

Walthamstow Primary

I’m inspired by Roald Dahl, because his imagination just goes so crazy. He brings people to life and makes them so funny in so many ways. The Twits is one of my favourite books of his – they are horrible!

What is your favourite book?

Kayla, Holland House School 

Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss! Another favourite of mine is Horton Hears a Who.

Have you ever 'magpied' from other authors?

Reece, Birkwood Primary

Nao the Mayo is a bit like Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast, but Jay and Mum are just regular people you would meet in everyday life. Food Bank Frank, I didn’t Magpie him, but I did have Frank Bruno (the boxer) when I came up with that character!

Fave books

Do you need to be brave to be an author?

Wagtails Class

I think so! You need to be brave to even come up with a thought or idea sometimes, but you shouldn’t worry that someone will think something is silly or not good enough – if you’re proud of it and you like it, people will enjoy it!

Do you have any other hobbies apart from writing? 

Adam, Adderley Primary

I love listening to funky music! We turn it up really loud in the house and the car. I also love walking on the beach and whenever I have the chance to get out in nature.

Does anyone in the team support football and which teams do you support?

A football mad class!

Nigel (the creator of Purple mash) is a huge supporter of Aston Villa, and Sam (from Purple Mash Publishing) supports Charlton Athletic. My football team is Tottenham Hotspur. Robin’s (from Bankuet) is Manchester United.

About Kobe Ketchup and the Food Bank Adventure

What inspired you to write this book?

Year 5, Westwood Prep

When the Covid-19 pandemic started, I offered to work in a local food bank and they had just had some big plastic crates full of carrots, onions and other fresh produce delivered. There was a lady, who was also volunteering there, and she had two little kids. When we emptied out each of the big crates, she was asking her little boy to jump into the crates to see if there was anything left in the corners to put in a bag for them to take home. I saw what was going on and spoke to the manager and she said “There are people who come to help because they’re embarrassed to come and say ‘Please can you help us?’ so they come to volunteer and they need to take things for them and their children.” I realised that maybe we need to start to talk a bit about food banks in a way that everyone can understand: they’re a place where everyone comes together as a community, and whether you’re a packer, a volunteer, a user or a manager, it doesn’t matter. We’re all in it together.

Danny and food box

Is your book based on a true story? 

Lacie, Birkwood Primary

A neighbour of mind, during lockdown, was holding a little Kindergarten in her home, and the children had to bring breakfast and lunch. There was one little boy who just had a slice of bread with ketchup for breakfast, and the same for lunch. When they asked him about it, he said “Mummy and Daddy aren’t working at the moment, but I’m going to have cheese on Friday.”

Why did you choose to base your characters on food?

Bea, St Patricks

Food has a life of its own, doesn’t it? I used to always imagine my dolls and teddy bears were real and were more than just being still. I remember the box of cereal with Tony the Tiger which would start talking to me as I ate my breakfast, and from there it was a natural process.

Nao,  Kobe and Danny

How did the Ketchup come alive? 

Holland House School

It came alive from its super powers from being so upset to see that it was sitting alone in the cupboard and didn’t have anything to splash on the plate with. It knew that there was an emergency situation and when Jay opened that door, that was its moment!

Why did Jay want to show the ketchup to his mum? Would she not be afraid of the talking ketchup?

Year 4, Westwood Prep

I think it was really hard for him to have any secrets from her. It was a relief for him to show his mum - he was able to get it off his chest, and come together with his mum as a team to go to the food bank together.

Do you have any other books and do they have characters that come alive?

Leila, Royles Brook Primary School

I haven’t created any characters like this before, and it’s the first time I’ve had any of my stories illustrated so now I can see the idea that was in my mind, in colour on paper, it makes me want to do it more! I think there’ll be more characters on their way...

Which character in your book is your favourite and why? 

Year 2, Adderley Primary

I love Kobe, but Nao the Mayo is actually based on my daughter, whose name is Naomi! The little sachets are meant to be her children. Kobe is the ultimate hero though – I think we all need a Kobe in our lives whenever things are a little bit difficult.

Do all of your books rhyme?  

Pippa, Totworth Primary

My books for chidlren do – I love Dr. Seuss! I like rhyme, I think it’s fun and gives the story music. It can be a little bit more challenging but makes you look harder for the right words.

Is there a reason for the cat appearing on each page? 

Bella, Birkwood Primary

The idea was to have little things going on for you to look at apart from the main picture – like that cat! The cat can also express and show the feelings that Jay is going through at the time.

How good friends are you with the illustrator?

Stanley, Totworth Primary

I met her when I was doing my last ‘practice’ book and we became friends straight away! If you’re both sharing an idea together, and you bring it to life, you have a connection. So we’ve become very good friends.

Did you ever think of giving up on your book? 

Fletcher, Birkwood Primary

No, because the idea was born when I started having a chat with Purple Mash publishing and they are such a fabulous team, and such a joy to work with that when the project and opportunity to work with Bankuet came alive (like Kobe Ketchup had), there was no going back!

Shirley Waisman, illustrator

What will your next book be about? 

Walthamstow Primary Academy & Travis, Birkwood Primary

I’d like to give Kobe Ketchup another adventure, somewhere else, in another community or another town. Another idea I did have is a book about all the sachets and plastic cutlery we waste when we get take-out food – can you imagine how many gazillion gallons of stuff we just throw away every day, because it came in a take-out box?!

About Food banks and how Bankuet can help

Food bank and trolley

How many food banks are there in the UK?

Royles Brook Primary School 

There are over 1,400 Trussell Trust food banks in the UK, in addition to at least 1,172 independent food banks.

What is the process for going to a food bank?

Peregrine Class

The first thing is to find where the food bank is in your area – they’re all over the UK. Then, you normally need what’s called a referral – which is what happens in the story: Jay and his mum get a referral from the school – they say that Jay and his mum would benefit from the food bank. You can get a referral from your school or the Citizens Advice Bureau, the local Council or doctor's surgery. However, it’s really important to know that food banks will never turn people away that need help, so if you don’t have a referral but you do need help, then just go when they’re running a session. They’ll talk to you and provide you with an emergency food parcel and then they will get you a referral for the future.

Can you turn up at a food bank at any time? 

Peregrine Class

There are around 3000 known food banks in the UK, but in reality many more, and they will hold drop-in sessions at different times. Just look on their website to find their times and you can go when the session is running.

How do you donate food to a food bank?

Peregrine Class

There are lots of ways you can donate food to food banks:

·         Lots of supermarkets have a food basket by the checkout which you can put food in.

·         If you have lots of extra food in the cupboard at home, you can take this directly to your local food bank.

A far more sustainable way of donating to food banks is to make a financial donation through Bankuet. Sometimes food banks have too much of one thing and not enough of another e.g. loads of tomato soup but not enough rice. 


Bankuet is an online platform that turns donations into supplies that food banks need the most. Bankuet makes sure your donation goes as far as possible for maximum impact through the power of bulk buying; for every £1 you give, Bankuet delivers more than £1 of food! Not only does Bankuet make it easy to donate, it is also a zero-waste company as they only deliver what is specifically requested.