Many years ago, I took a broad stroke writing course that briefly talked about the various forms of writing: fiction and nonfiction, newspaper articles, screenwriting, and more. As part of this class, I had to do a couple of lessons on children’s books.
Not my thing.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I love to read children’s books. When my kids were little, we’d visit the library almost every week, and we frequently walked out with thirty or more books between the four of us. The stories we read were fun. Poignant. The characters were sweet. Daring. Hilarious.
But to combine character development and plot lines into a story that was largely communicated through pictures and keep it under 1,000 words (shorter than many of my blog posts) — that was not my kind of writing.
However, a seed was planted in those writing lessons that wouldn’t let go.
The Creation of My Children’s Book
Allie saw her parents talking nearby. “Do you know what they’re talking about, Oscar?” ~Carrie Daws, from A New Home for Allie
The question in my lesson was simple. I had to write down at least five ideas for children’s stories. Except at this point in my life, I only wrote devotions. So I had to not only journey into books for kids but into fiction books.
Surely this wouldn’t be too hard. After all, I enjoyed losing myself in fiction, at least in those few moments between caring for my family when I could actually read. And I had three young ones around me all the time. How hard could it be coming up with five original ideas?
My Daughter Rescues Me
Harder than I thought! I came up with two and got stuck. I let it sit a while.
That didn’t help.
So I called my daughter, an eight-year-old fiction lover who read quite a bit. “I need ideas! Can you help me?”
And out they tumbled, one after another like she did this for a living. Maybe I should have recognized the budding writer in her then, but that’s a different story.
Allie is Born
Her exact words are long forgotten, but they went something like this: “You should write about a little girl giraffe. Her daddy is in the animal military, and he gets orders. They have to move away to someplace she’s never been before.”
Oh, the precious heart of my baby girl who made her first move when she was just fifteen months old.
“What is her name?” I asked. After all, if my girl was going to inspire the story, I thought she should get to name the main character.
She didn’t think too long on her little giraffe. “Allie. And she should have a friend who gets to go with her so she won’t be alone.”
Another prick to my momma-heart as my girl revealed a tender piece of hers.
I played around with the story a little, doing some research. Thinking through all the books my children and I had read together, almost none came to mind about moving. And I knew very little about giraffes at the time. Did they move around? Did they hang in families? And how realistic is it that a friend could travel with sweet Allie on her grand adventure?
What I discovered watered the seed my baby had planted, and I knew one day I would have to write this story.
- Giraffes do travel in small groups, leading a pretty nomadic life. And it’s not uncommon for them to switch from one group to another as they journey.
- They don’t cluster together unless they are attracted to the same tree to eat. Females tend to be more social than the males, with moms of small calves being most social.
- Oxpecker birds tend to form symbiotic relationships with giraffes, buffalo, rhino, and more, keeping them clean of skin parasites.
Allie Finds a Home
“Are you my new friend? I’ve been praying for a girl to play with.” ~Carrie Daws, from A New Home for Allie
For years, the research sat in a file on my computer. Occasionally I’d think about it, or my girl would ask if I’d written Allie’s story yet. But I always had more doubts than courage.
Until the day God brought an artist into my life. When we first met, it was over our fiction writing, so I didn’t think about Allie. We became good friends, encouraging each other on our publishing journeys.
And then came the day when God planted the thought in my head: Share Allie with her. Let her draw your little giraffe.
I emailed her, and she was intrigued. She started her own research — publishing a children’s book was a new adventure for her too. We forged a partnership, I started writing, and she starting sketching.
The story is written and through editing, and my friend is earnestly working through the illustrations, painstakingly painting each page. Each painting she sends me for the book is more beautiful than the last, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.
We don’t have a release date yet, but we’re getting closer! Be on the lookout this fall for more news about my first children’s book, A New Home for Allie.
Coming Soon . . .
A New Home for Allie
Allie loves her home in Kenya. But her dad works for the Animal Jungle Patrol, and he just got orders to move their family to Somalia. She has many questions, and the journey will be long. Will the new place be like what she knows? Will she find friends in her new home? And will she ever see her best friend again?