I got the idea for this book after subbing at my son’s school. I was substituting teaching a lot at the time, and I never liked using the discipline behavior charts in the classroom – I wanted something more positive to give the children a sense of hope instead of feeling defeated. I have always loved flowers, so I would draw a picture of a flower on the board. Every time someone did something good that needed to be acknowledged I would color in a petal or a leaf for a child’s good behavior or kind gesture to a friend. I would tell them that being kind and doing the right thing was like shining sun on the flower or nourishing it with rain. When they would do something bad, or didn’t follow the rules, or they were mean to a classmate, I would erase a petal. I told them that their negative behavior was like putting poison on the flower. I was amazed how quickly the children responded to this concept, and from there my children’s story idea seed for “The Friend Garden” was planted.
The next step was taking my ideas and turning them into a children’s story. It is funny how things come together, or people come together, at the right time. That happened when I met Ana Buckmaster. When I met her I knew I wanted to get to know her better. She is a unique, funky, and really cool mom of two amazing ballerinas that I teach in my role as a dance teacher. As I got to know her more I opened up and shared my creative goals. Ana is a genius on so many levels and this became apparent to me the more I was around her. Ana listened to my book ideas and, from the first one, wrote an amazing story that sent tears down my face…. she understood exactly what I was going for. She was able to create a story from a child’s perspective while harboring all the feelings I was aiming for. What I love so much about our relationship is that we are complete opposites on so many levels but we admire and respect each other’s differences and we have created something really amazing together. Imagine how wonderful this world would be if that happened more often! Yes I am tooting Ana’s and my horn! Thank you Ana.
The next person I met, through my son’s school, was Nina Byerly… she is an artist phenom, talented beyond her 12 years… the more I got to know her, the more I knew she is who I wanted to bring my story to life through her incredibly beautiful artwork.
Just like the way sun and rain nourishes a flower, I feel I’ve surrounded myself with people who have helped my dream of creating children’s books take root and grow.
Be sure to signup to our email list to receive updates about The Friend Garden and other upcoming projects!