I received a lovely email from a Duncan woman by the name of Donna Hert the other day and she told me that she loves my column and that she can tell I am a wonderful mother. She could have asked me to do anything after those compliments and I would have done it because, well, she made me feel good.
In any event, all she wanted to do was give me her new children’s book A Farmyard Christmas Pageant.
“I would like you to have a copy of the book in gratitude for sharing the bright side with me and so many others,” Hert wrote in her email.
(Obviously yes, it’s for sale on Amazon, go buy it.)
She didn’t really give me an option to say no because that afternoon she dropped a book off at the office for me.
I don’t know if Donna knows about my Christmas book mould debacle from last year and I don’t know if you remember but, last December I went to get the tote of holiday themed books from my basement only to find that one or both of my children’s soggy, grubby, little candy-cane-crusted fingers had added just a bit too much moisture to a book back in 2019 before we closed the tote for the year, and mould had had roughly 300 days to grow on and basically destroy most of the collection.
So, to be given a children’s Christmas book from a local author was a double delight. Another to add to our new and growing collection! Of course I’m happy to promote it for her on this platform; but something else happened in relation to her book that made me want to write a bit about it even more.
Being a family that’s big on reading, I obviously showed my kids the book. Being about Christmas, my daughter was instantly intrigued. I explained to her the story was about Frances the lamb and Rover the pup and all of their farmyard animal friends putting on a Christmas pageant. Rover didn’t know the Christmas Story and so the book follows along as Frances explains the story and all of its players to her.
My kid was excited to read it at that point. She loves animals. I then told her that the publication was illustrated by a 12-year-old named Carolina Vazquez.
“Like my cousin!?” she wanted to know.
“Yep! Just like your cousin,” I replied.
Her jaw dropped.
You could see the wheels start turning in her head. She is a prolific drawer but it was as if it had never ever crossed her mind in her more than five and a half years of life that a young person could in fact illustrate a legitimate book.
“You mean a kid illustrated this book?” she asked, not quite believing me.
“She sure did,” I confirmed. “The woman is a writer, just like me. And the young girl likes to draw, just like you.”
The wheels kept turning.
“So, I could draw my characters and then we could write a story about them?” she questioned.
“Well, I suppose we could,” I said. “It’s hard work but we could do it.”
“Could it even have a shiny cover like this one does? We don’t have paper like that.”
I explained it’s just like newspapers, where you build the pages on the computer and then send them out to the printer. They’re the ones with the special paper. She seemed relieved to not have to worry about that part.
My daughter now has cornered me into a verbal contract to write a book called Sprinkle Panda Goes to School featuring, her original characters including but not limited to: Sprinkle Panda, Plum Pigeon and Jordan.
I did want to thank Donna Hert and Carolina Vazquez for not only bolstering our Christmas book collection with a copy of A Farmyard Christmas Pageant, but also for inspiring my daughter to think beyond what she ever thought was possible for herself. I look forward to her pending book, even if I do have to be the one who writes it.
I also want to thank Hert and Vazquez for reminding us of a few lessons we can all take from their version of a Christmas story, regardless of our affiliations:
First, the best laid plans can change — life throws you curveballs (hello pandemic!) so it’s a good idea to learn to roll with the punches; next, even the seemingly smallest of roles can be the most important to people; and finally, it’s great to be self-sufficient but struggles are often much easier dealt with when you have help — be it from above or anywhere else.
A Farmyard Christmas Pageant can be found online at Amazon.ca