It is not about the books, it is about the journey. Author Sandra Wilson is working on a series of Emotional Animal books to help children understand emotions. For each book, Sandra works with a classroom to gain story ideas and get illustrations once the story is written. She has visited schools from Woodstock to Cobourg with many stops in between. The importance of the project is to have the children participate in a discussion about emotions and discuss ideas on how they can and should respond in various situations. Then, with their ideas and drawings included in the book they can see that what they have to say is important and what they do is amazing.
With each school visit Sandra experiences the excitement of the children having their ideas heard and recorded. She is met with kindness and hugs and is sometimes chased down the hall to be presented with paper hearts. (The book Kindness Kangaroo says that kindness is giving a paper heart.)
The project has evolved as it grows and sometimes the stories change to suit the children or classroom situation. One class had trouble with a little one who kept leaving the room and running off so Reckless Raccoon became a story about safety and the importance of staying where adults can see you. Another classroom was about to learn about one of their classmates who had been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. So, Timid Turtle hid in his shell because he was embarrassed about his tics. The class all gave wonderful ideas on how to help Timid and so, when they learn about their classmate they will already know how to respond and the little boy won’t feel out of place because he will be just like Timid.
Although the series of 26 books will be quite an accomplishment Sandra is gaining so much more throughout the journey of the project. The children she meets all have amazing ideas to share and the stories they inspire have already touched so many. The proudness these children carry when showing off their drawings in the printed books is a reward for Sandra like no other. Sharing the spotlight with the students of these classes is something she didn’t even have to think about. Building confidence and self-esteem in children as well as recognizing their talents and encouraging their creativity is a joy for the author to experience.
Sandra hopes that, with the help of sponsors for the books, she can get the books into the hands of children all over Ontario, through schools and libraries, and encourage children to draw, to write, to be creative. She wants children to be able to relate to the book characters, to see them-selves in the situations and know it is ok to feel that way but that maybe there are different options on how to react with these feelings.
By providing characters with abilities of all types Sandra hopes to help children see how similar everyone really is. A child who struggles in school (Determined Dog has dyslexia) or struggles in their mind (Anxious Alligator) has feelings just like anyone else and can also make great friends.
It is a journey of love for the author, a passion project that is creating a legacy to be proud of and filling her heart to capacity.