Questions Often Asked:
When you write a book, who is the first person to read it (or may be who do you read it to)? And who is the one person from your family whose criticism you pay most attention to? (Please answer the second question only if it won’t create trouble for you :)).
Because I write for young readers, I usually ask my granddaughter to read what I have written. When I wrote Whenever A Child Is Born, she was six years old, and was the perfect critic for my work. The target age for this book is 5-8, so my granddaughter was able to help me to know if the book reached the target audience. She was quick to offer suggestions and approval on illustrations, text, color and the message of the book. She loves to read, so when my book got her praise, I was happy because her opinion is important to me.
I also ask my husband to proofread everything that I write, because he is a keen editor. He catches everything that doesn’t flow perfectly, and he is also very gentle with his constructive criticism…which is always welcoming.
I want to add here, that prior to beginning to write, I consulted with pre-K and Kindergarten teachers regarding layout and content of this book. I wanted to make sure my work would be appealing to young readers, that it would capture their attention and would deliver a meaningful message. The input of early education teachers was a plus for me!
I am from India. Here, we sometimes refer to moon as ‘Chanda Maama’ (literally ‘Uncle Moon’). So, the cover page with the child sleeping soundly in moon’s ‘lap’ immediately made me thinking of that. And it also made me wonder why you chose this cover. What was the thought behind the cover of the book?
The idea in my mind, as I decided on the front cover of this book, was that the entire universe welcomes and comforts every new baby. Whether the child is comfortably resting in the arms of its parents; cradled in a field of flowers and singing birds; being adored by farm animals, or nestled in the lap of the moon, every new baby is embraced by all creatures, in all places of the universe.
The book’s message for children is that the world responds with joy whenever a child is born, because babies are gifts of love. This narrative offers a child the opportunity to experience joyfulness and excitement when they hear the news that a new baby is about to be born.
I am the mother of two teenagers. Even though my kids are all grown up (kind of), or maybe because I’ve been a parent for so long, what resonated with me first after reading your book is the feeling of ‘it’s ok if you are not perfect. You have help’. What I’m trying to say is that for me the book is as much for the children as it is for the parents.
Is that what was in your mind when you were planning and writing this book?
Interesting question! The message of the book when I was planning it, and the message while writing it shifted a bit. Prior to writing, I thought I would write a book for families that were searching for the most loving way to explain to their children that another baby was on the way! My idea developed into showing children how much delight the entire universe experienced when a new baby was about to be born.
My story of how all of creation might respond to the news of a child being born was intended to bring joy and excitement to siblings in an expectant family, but the message quickly extended to parents. As I wrote, I actually felt the words appealing to anxious parents; offering them comfort that they would never be alone raising their child, and that the child would never be alone in life, because whenever a child is born, it is given a guardian angel to guide and guard throughout his lifetime.
In continuation of the last question, is such anxiety among parents something you have come across often as your work as a counselor?
In my counseling practice, I often work in group therapy, and it was in a group that consisted of young mothers, that I realized the topic of “having a new baby” was cause for much anxiety for these expectant mothers. The ladies discussed how they would tell their families that another baby was on the way. They especially addressed the issue of informing their children that they were going to have another sibling. These ladies found it difficult to find the most loving message for their children.
This is when I realized that the anticipation of a child coming into the world needed its own story. The fictional narrative of how all of creation might respond to hearing that a new baby is about to be born, would be a great way for children to experience happiness and delight whenever they hear the news that a new baby is on the way.
Since its publication, Whenever A Child Is Born has become a favorite for Moms, especially “new Moms”, and Grandmothers, especially “new Grands”. It has definitely found its way to more baby showers that I can count. Although it was never my intention for this book to become the “go to baby shower gift”, sometimes books have a way of creating their own identity.
What is your favorite children’s book or story?
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You, by Nancy Tillman, is my favorite children’s book. I discovered it after my own children were grown, but it is my favorite book to read to my grandchildren.
“I wanted you more than you’ll ever know,
so I sent love to follow wherever you go. . . .”
How comforting are her words from that book? Every line of her book offers children a loving reminder that no matter where they are, or how old they are, her love will always find them.
I love books that reassure children, and help them to feel safe and loved.