Join me for the birthday celebrations of Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks by Sally Fetech in what has been an amazing blog tour.
Author Sally Fetouh was inspired to write this touching story by her own daughter who has Down syndrome, feeling it was important for her and other children like her to be able to see themselves in literature. Two years ago, after reading a different story about a girl with Down syndrome to her daughter’s preschool class, Sally says:
“The children were so engaged in the story and asked questions. They were very accepting and loving of their friend—my daughter. I left with a heart overflowing with emotion and that inspired me to write my story.”Sally Fetouh
Sally’s cheerful text and whimsical illustrations bring alive this heart-warming story of kindness and inclusion featuring a character with Down syndrome.
When young Jana receives heaps of beautiful socks from her parents after learning how to put on socks all by herself, she can’t wait to show her friends at school. They are always kind and patient with Jana when they play together. Jana decides to share a pair of her new socks with each and every friend. This calls for a school sock parade! All of the children had so much fun showing off their colourful socks together that they gave a very special and huge gift for their kind and generous friend, Jana, a box of more socks.
My stop on this fantastic tour will take the form of an author interview.
Happy Birthday for Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks. Welcome to my blog, Much To Do About Writing.
Tell us a little bit about your picture book and how you developed your main character.
When young Jana receives heaps of beautiful socks from her parents after learning how to wear socks all by herself, she can’t wait to show her friends at school, who all want a pair when they see them. Jana decides to share a pair of her new socks with each and every friend until there are none left. This calls for a school sock parade!
All of the children have so much fun showing off their colourful socks together that they give Jana a very special gift for their kind and generous friend, Jana, a huge box of socks!
‘Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks’ showcases a beautiful experience at school, exemplifying acceptance and friendship. I was inspired to write this touching story by my own daughter, Jana, who has Down syndrome, feeling it was important for her and other children like her to be able to see themselves in literature. I wanted to base the character on someone who has Down syndrome and even though ‘Down syndrome’ is not mentioned in the story, some readers may be able to recognise and relate to some traits. For example, Jana doesn’t say as many words as her friends or she’s slower than her friends when they race. I wanted to include all these aspects in the character, while championing the strengths that children with Down syndrome have in their kindness, empathy and huge sense of fun.
What are the underlying themes of Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks?
The main themes are that of inclusion, acceptance, kindness and friendship. The story aims to show children that even though we may be all different, we are still the same in the way we want to have friends, play, learn and have fun. The analogy of socks plays on this, where the socks were all different, but they were still the same thing – socks!
What inspired you to use socks to highlight differences?
Down syndrome is about having an extra chromosome, and chromosomes are shaped like socks. I was inspired by Down Syndrome International’s #lotsofsocks campaign that happens every year on World Down Syndrome Day on March 21 where the whole global community gets together and wears their brightest, craziest, most mismatched socks to celebrate the extra chromosome.
What have you discovered about the publishing process since Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks launched last year?
It’s a journey that requires a lot of continuous hard work in terms of marketing and publicity to keep the book alive in the sense that I’m trying to get more parents, teachers and librarians interested in it. Trying to get the word out there about the book and the message behind it is part of this process and it doesn’t stop.
What writing tip would you give to people aspiring to write a picture book?
Think like a child (of the age you are targeting) and write from that perspective. Focus on the story first and invest in a great editor. The illustrations will follow on naturally from that.
To find out more about Sally Fetouh and her book, Jana’s Brightly Coloured Socks on her website is www.sallyfetouh.com/book. There is also a list of online retailers who stock the book, and some information about the illustrator, Alexis Schnitger.
I would like to thank Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.