It’s here! Well, almost.
I have Europe’s “The Final Countdown” in my head! Only the der der der der bits, as I can’t remember many of the words, but it’s there, singing away happily.
But, why? I hear you ask (maybe).
My children’s book, “Where Are We Going?” has gone to print and it will be here, with me, in just a couple of weeks! Oh my! A book, that I have written, will be in my hands, very soon. It feels quite odd, surreal. This is something I have dreamed about for a long time but didn’t really think it would happen. It’s happened!!! I’m a published author!
The book is really important to me, and I hope that others will think it’s important to.
That sentence gives it a lot of gravitas. Some people may not see its importance, and that’s okay. But I believe there will be some who see why it’s important. Maybe you’ll be one of them.
Why is it important? It’s important because it’s a rarity.
At first glance, it’s a book about imagination. It’s about encouraging children, and their adults, to dream about wonderful places to go, people to see, and things to do. Imagination may not seem important but it really is.
I work with a lot of people, of all ages, who believe they can only do what their parents do; or believe that they can’t do anything because of restrictions that have been placed on them, by themselves or others. As the fabulous Frank-N-Furter sings in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, “Don’t Dream It, Be It”; if we can’t dream about wider horizons, how can we work towards achieving them? We need to be able to imagine things so that we can believe that there is a whole world open to us all.
I want people to know that dreams aren’t certainties. Just because someone wants to fly to the moon one day, it doesn’t mean they are going to do that; what it does mean is that they can dream of travelling, of exploring new realms; and, that, they can do. If someone dreams of cavorting with royalty, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily have regular afternoon tea dates with the monarchy, but it may mean they will love dancing among drag kings and queens and being open-minded to the amazing, diverse communities that surround us. By encouraging our imaginations we open ourselves up to more possibilities, to more adventures, to richer, fuller, lives.
Then there is Emily, the main character in the book. Emily is a beautiful child, who lives a life full of love, kindness, imagination and adventure. And Emily is a child with a visible difference. But that’s not all of who she is; just as we are all not just one thing.
And that was something else I wanted to address, ever so subtlety, with a hint of sledgehammer.
In children’s books, it’s very rare to see a child with a disability, and, in those stories, it’s usually about their disability. Those books are important, without doubt. However, I feel they also highlight the differences, rather than sharing how many incredible things we have in common.
In “Where Are We Going?”, Emily’s visible difference is, well, visible. But her difference is not a part of the story. As she and her adult go on their imaginary adventures, you can see her prosthetic limb, because it’s not something that she feels she has to hide, but it’s not part of the story.
Though, there is a little something about Emily’s disability in the book; at the back, there are some questions for teachers to plan a lesson round, or for parents/older readers to ask the children, and three of those are questions about her visible difference.
When you read anything about how authors write, they usually say how each of their characters has a backstory. Those back stories may never be known to anyone else but the author knows it. And, as the author, I know Emily’s.
As I’ve said already, Emily lives a life that is full of love and kindness, and, with that love and kindness, comes acceptance and belief. She hasn’t been told she can’t do things because she has a prosthetic leg; she has been told that some things might be a bit more difficult because of it but that should never stop her trying. She has been encouraged to believe in herself and to believe that she can do anything she sets her mind to. She has been taught that, sometimes, life is difficult, and that things are rarely perfect, but that she is absolutely wonderful, just as she is, just as others are absolutely wonderful, just as they are too.
Although this World Book Day is different to previous ones, it’s been lovely to see photos of children dressed as their favourite characters, and I can’t help but hope that, next year, and for years after, there will be children dressing as Emily.
The book will be available on my website soon: http://www.vieness.co.uk