How many of us, I wonder, working within an early years setting, have experienced a child in our care becoming upset or even terrified when they have become unwell with a common childhood illness? It is so difficult for children to understand that they won’t always feel this way and they will soon be ‘good as new’ again.
Among the ways that we offer them support and comfort is by reaching for a book to explain the illness in a way that they can understand, helping to calm them and accept and deal with the illness in a positive way.
I had just such a situation when Effie, a 3-and-a-half year old in my care contracted chickenpox. She was very frightened and horrified at the spots appearing all over her body. They came very fast and she did have a particularly large number of them!
I remembered that I’d once had an excellent book which explained chickenpox in a simple and positive way. However, the book had been loaned out and never returned so I began a search for a replacement.
I looked online, in all the large stores, libraries and second-hand book shops without success. There were a few books available but they were not suitable for one reason or another... too negative and unhelpfully detailed or too poetic and ‘sugary’. I wanted a gentle story that would be informative but that children could relate to.
I started calling independent book stores in the hope that they might have some old stock or know of a book which would ‘hit the right note’. I had called several already when a man answered my call saying “Candy Jar Books” and I went through the story...‘child with chickenpox… upset... book needed for information and comfort etc...The conversation then went as follows:
“Right, and you are ringing me because?”
“Well, because you sell children’s books, don’t you?”
“No, I’m a publisher! But if you’re struggling to find the book you need, why don’t you write one? I’ll publish it for you!”
So I did! I think he was rather surprised when I turned up on his doorstep with manuscript in hand!
We commissioned a local artist, Jez Knight-Harris, to illustrate the book, which he did wonderfully with bright, warm characters just perfect to bring the story to life in a colourful and fun way. It took him about five minutes to sketch the main character, Effie, shown here, and I knew it was perfect right away... this was Effie!
And now here I am, a real published author! The most difficult part for me has been the marketing. Being a naturally very shy person, it has been challenging to put my book ‘out there’ but I am so proud to have done it! Selling the book has been a steep learning curve for me, with setting up PayPal and an Amazon selling account. It’s crazy to think that this has happened because I mistakenly called a publisher instead of a bookstore!
The book is available in some garden centres and if you’d like a copy, you can order one from here.
About the author
I have been a registered childminder since my eldest son (now 40 years old) was a baby. I have had one or two other jobs along the way but childminding has been my primary career. Things were very different when I started, NCMA was in its infancy and there was very little regulation in those days.
Childminding as a career was not very highly regarded back then and many considered it just as a way of earning money only during the period they were required to be at home with their own children. It has been rather different for me, childminding was a real career choice and I have seen the profession grow hugely in confidence and regard into the highly respected position it enjoys today. NCMA and PACEY have been instrumental in this transformation and have been a tremendous support to me personally throughout my career.