Getting down to earth writing a positive, uplifting children’s book
Clark the Mountain Beaver is born and ideas have been formed. It was now time for the real fun to begin ~ writing!
I knew from the start that my story was going to be a positive, uplifting one. I don’t believe there always has to be a villain or a bad guy to tell a good story. Also, my cast of characters were going to be animals, and honestly, I am tired of animals being portrayed as mean and nasty. As for the adventure encounters, that came quite easily because I based them on my own experiences.
First the storyline: Take a unique, misunderstood critter who just wants to be accepted for who he is and pair him with my one true passion ~ Nature.
Anyone who has gone through grade school knows how it feels to be accepted or not. Unfortunately, kids today are pressured more than ever to fit in. Bullying was in all the headlines when I began to write my book. Although Clark is never bullied, he certainly knows how it feels to not fit in and to be misunderstood.
Clark the Mountain Beaver was my opportunity to convey to children that being different is okay. In fact, it is our differences that makes life so interesting. Thanks to the friends Clark meets throughout his adventure, he learns that when you take pride in your uniqueness and believe in yourself, you become empowered. Empowered with self-confidence, strength, and resilience.
The other issue of concern ~ Nature-Deficit Disorder.
Yes, like everything else these days, there is a name for children becoming disconnected from Nature. For those of us that grew up without computers and video games, it is hard to believe children are not spending time playing outside, but it is true for a lot of children. In fact, in a recent study, 70% of U.S. mothers reported they played outside everyday as a child while only 30% of their children do. What Clark’s adventure shows kids is that Nature is all around us and that the critters that live there, no matter how common they may seem, are fascinating. Whether it is your backyard, a park down the street, or a tree on your block Nature is there. Why is it so important that children have a connection to Nature? Because, more than ever, Nature needs their love and compassion so they feel compelled to protect and preserve it. As the saying goes, “Where there is a connection, there is protection”.
Next up, enter the cast of characters.
I am fortunate because I have an abundance of wildlife that frequents my yard and I have had some amazing encounters with them throughout the years. I simply used the encounters I had with critters in my yard and turned them into Clark’s encounters. Genius, right?!
A few of my favorites include: Looking out my kitchen window one morning and seeing a beautiful doe coming up from underneath the bridge that spans our small creek. Now a creek is not a typical place you would expect to see a full-grown deer so this unexpected surprise totally made my morning! I named her Bella because, although deer are considered common, I had just begun to see them in my yard and I viewed her as the “Bell of the Ball/Yard”. Get it? Bell-of. Bell-a. Okay, NEXT…
The mallard ducks that frequent our yard have trained my husband, a.k.a. Uncle Ricky, to bring them dinner. I named them the Quackers because that’s what they often do, Quack! As I dove into their characters, however, they quickly turned into my parents, Bob and Mary.
Mr. Quacker LOVES to fly. My Dad’s passion, or obsession might be a better word, is airplanes! If he was going to make it into my book, there was no doubt he had to be a bird. Mrs. Quacker LOVES to dine out. Undoubtedly from a lifetime in the kitchen having to prepare meals for six finicky children and a husband! The best part with the Quacker’s was when my editor commented on how he thought Mrs. Quacker was a prima donna! Really? My mother? In her dreams maybe! Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to tell my Mom about my editor’s perception of her based on Mrs. Quacker’s behavior!!!
My favorite encounter, aside from Clark’s of course, was the one I had with an American Bald Eagle. I noticed this magnificent Bald Eagle flying straight towards me and the house as I began to open a sliding glass door to the deck. As the eagle approached, she lowered her legs exposing her massive talons and then quickly dropped down onto a pile of sticks. The eagle walked around the pile, examining the various sticks before gathering a talon full, and then with great strength and grace took off and flew to her nest. I was in awe! I named the Bald Eagle Hep because her strength, determination, and beauty reminded me of the actress, Katharine Hepburn. Okay, I confess, I am a huge Katharine Hepburn fan and it was only a matter of time before she found her way into a starring role in one of the chapters of my book.
That is how I got down to earth in writing my first children’s book. As for the other characters, they too have stories but perhaps I will explore their origins at a later date. Until then, find yourself in Nature, and by all means, embrace your uniqueness!