By Donna Brainard
I’m very happy to announce my first children’s book.
Like everyone else, when Covid began in 2020 I was looking for ways to occupy my time. Being confined to home was a new thing for me and I was going a little stir crazy.
While cleaning out my desk one day I came across a little story that I’d written about a hummingbird. I wrote the story while on a visit to my daughter’s home in California in 2014. I had observed a hummingbird building a nest in a small tree in her backyard. Although I had seen hummingbirds before, I never saw a hummingbird nest. It was fascinating to watch this tiny creature build her nest, and eventually hatch her babies.
I decided to try to turn the story into a children’s book. It felt good to begin a project that might help to ground me through the uncertain time we all were facing. I had earned a teaching degree in the 70’s and at one time taught preschool. I’ve always loved children’s literature and read daily to my children when they were growing up.
But where to begin? I signed up for a ZOOM course for aspiring writers on how to get published. The course was offered by the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort. Jonathan Haupt, the director of the center was very helpful and encouraging. I learned about the publishing world and how it has changed in the last twenty years. I did research on publishers and also explored the possibility of self-publishing. I was able to speak with several authors who have written children’s books. Based on what I learned, I decided to approach a hybrid publisher located in Virginia. I sent out a copy of my manuscript and Mascot accepted it for publication. Working with Mascot Books, I had access to a great editor, a layout artist and was able to select an amazing illustrator, Yoko Matsuoka, an artist from Japan. There was so much to learn. The entire team that I worked with was professional and skillful.
They helped me turn my idea into a book for children ages 4-8 that teaches a valuable lesson. The lesson seemed to fit right into the reality that we were all stepping into . . . a slower reality.
I was able to model the young boy in the book after my grandson, Marcus. That made it very special to me and has turned out to be a lovely gift for my family to embrace. The story is set in Brooklyn where Marcus lives. At the age of 6 he was always whizzing around on his skateboard or his bike. He loved to go fast and his parents were always telling him to slow down. One day, Marcus spotted a hummingbird and realizes that she goes fast like him. By slowing down a bit and taking the time to observe this wonder of nature, Marcus understands that sometimes, when you slow down, you might find something fascinating.
The book is available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com as well as national book distributors so that libraries and bookstores can choose to carry it.
I have begun to participate in local promotions in Beaufort. I have presented to several book clubs and will be reading and signing books at The Beaufort Bookstore on December 4th. I recently presented my book to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and am waiting for their response. They have a beautiful gift shop that includes children’s books on gardening and flowers, and since the story takes place in Brooklyn, I am hopeful that they will carry my book. I also recently presented the book to the Verona Library in Verona, New Jersey. I grew up in Verona and lived directly across the street from the library. As a young child, I spent many hours in the children’s room at that library. They have agreed to carry my book. It feels like I have come full circle to know that my book will be in the children’s room there.
I have received beautiful comments from people who have purchased the book. They seem to love the story, the lesson, and the beautiful illustrations.
I hope that this book will encourage children to appreciate nature, especially the fascinating creatures that are found in gardens everywhere.
Beaufort resident Donna Brainard will be signing books from 11 am – 3 pm at the Beaufort Bookstore on Saturday, December 4, during Santa’s visit to Beaufort Town Center.