I am a mother of 3 adult children who, at age 63, has just fulfilled a dream I've kept hidden away in my imagination for over 50 years. I've written and illustrated a fictional/part educational children's book called Bullies, Bees and Brussels Sprouts for ages 8 -1 , which has now been published!
Even at the age of 10, I loved to cross the threshold between reality and fantasy, constantly writing stories about animals, fairies and ghosts! I can still remember my teacher declaring: "You will be a writer when you grow up!"
Well, just like many of us do when we "grow up", we travel, work, marry, raise children, face life's challenges. Consequently writing a book became a hidden-away dream for me. However, after experiencing one long emotional roller coaster ride watching my mother suffer Alzheimers for 16 years and my father suffer pancreatic cancer, I decided the greatest remedy for my grief would be to bring my dream to life.
I was born in the 1950s at a time when a certain medication for expectant mothers was prescribed for morning sickness which was sadly later recognised as the cause of many anomalies in babies. My mother was never prescribed medication throughout her pregnancy, and yet I was born with similar physical anomalies; a mystery to doctors and specialists.
I grew up in a terrace-house in an inner city suburb of Glebe, Sydney where our backyard was too small to cater for animals, but it made my desire for animals grow. No doubt when I had my own children, animals and pets became a very important part of our lives, which inspired me for characters in my book. Throughout my childhood, I encountered 'bullying' and name-calling but somehow it didn't faze my love of drawing or writing, as it helped me fantasise allowing me to lose myself to an imaginary world.
I always thought "What's the difference?" if I have short, slightly crooked arms? I still have a heart that feels, a mind that thinks and the ability to write and illustrate. Fortunately, as I've matured as a woman, I didn't care as much about being stared at or patronised because I had a husband who loved me and three beautiful children - but underneath I still felt that angst from school years especially when I heard the word "bullying".
In fact, I included a poem in my book entitled What's the Difference? which is expressed by Ella the Echidna who is bullied by snakes.
Bullying is not the only theme of my book. It also includes issues such as environmental awareness, the endangerment to earth's creatures, real-life facts about amazing skills of various animals, the importance of friends and how precious it is to respect, love and admire all living things. We are all born with individual differences; therefore every living thing has something special to offer and should be respected and admired not bullied or criticised. We all have the ability to use that 'something special' to make the world a better and nicer place.
My book is based in Australia with some of our beloved Aussie animals as the main characters. As one of my characters proclaims (and the reason for the title): "Bullies are like Bees ..t. hey cause pain and the pain takes a long time to heal ... and Brussels Sprouts ... take a lot of strength to tolerate, in fact they are extremely unpleasant!"
I cringe when I hear children suffer torment and my heart 'sinks' when victims take their lives because they can no longer suffer the effects of that soul destroying word, "bullying".
So if my book can convey issues to make children mindful in a fun, fictional way, then I have achieved what I set out to do.
To my absolute delight I have just received a 5-Star rating review from an American Reader's Favourite site, so I am hoping my book can achieve the same recognition in Australia. I may be 63, but I hope that I also help prove that you're never too old or fragile to make a dream come true.
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You can find out more, and purchase, Narelle's book at www.narellemcallister.com