The Children’s Book Review | February 15, 2019
Jen B Wild is the pen name of children’s author, Samanta Moise. Born in Ecuador, she moved to the United States as a teenager, joining a proud tradition of naturalized citizens that continue to make America great. Through hard work and single-minded focus, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a registered nurse. Because of her nursing background, Jen B believes that early intervention in childhood is critical to the development of adult mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. She drew from her life experiences and enlisted the help of her 4 children to write her first book, Henry Winterbottom and the Feeling Rainbow. Through Henry’s story, kids will gain insight into their emotions and discover a vocabulary to express their feelings.
Henry Winterbottom and the Feeling Rainbow has been written and illustrated to help children understand emotions through Henry’s experience with a colorful spectrum of feelings. What inspired you to write a story focused on social-emotional development?
Anxiety has been a constant companion my entire life. As a kid, I remember worrying about the smallest things. Dealing with ‘The What-Ifs’ became part of my daily routine. Learning to cope with this allowed me to channel this nervous energy into a productive and fulfilling life (Mom of 4. Years working in critical care nursing). Helping children understand their emotions is key for development of emotional intelligence and transitioning to successful adult relationships and responsibilities.
What is it about Henry that you think will resonate with the intended audience of children ages 3 through 9?
Children at that age are very visual and are developing the abstract thinking necessary to connect their feelings (internal state) to things in the world. Using colors and objects to describe feelings and emotionally charged situations make the subject relatable. And Henry is such an open and imaginative main character, that his thoughts leap off the page thanks to our illustrators amazing artwork.
How did you collaborate with illustrator Day on the artwork?
Day is amazing. I first saw his sketches on a site for artists, and thought he would be a great fit for the book. The moment that I saw his first drawings, which he made on the basis of a few lines of the manuscript, I felt Henry come to life. He was incredibly flexible, responsive, and his creative energy inspired me to rethink what I wrote to reflect the intricacy of his art. He was critical in translating Henry’s journey onto the page.
A few things we know about you: Jen B Wild is a pen name, you are naturalized citizen, and you fulfilled your dream of becoming a registered nurse. What was your childhood like and how have you own early experiences, and then your nursing experiences, help shaped this first story about Henry?
Emotional openness was not a topic of discussion when I was growing up. Like in many cultures around the world, children were to be seen and not heard. Being able to normalize thinking, talking about, and expressing emotions for children is rewarding. My time as a nurse has reinforced the notion that early childhood emotional development is key for successful adults.
What has been one of the best reactions from a reader, so far?
I did a guest reader appearance at my child’s class while I was still working with Day on the illustrations. After I finished, two kids came up to me and told me they feel like just like Henry and they loved the book.
For you personally, what has been the most life changing advice you have received on managing emotions?
Embrace emotional honesty. The path towards emotional growth involves acknowledging feelings, identifying triggers, and learning to manage them through exercises, tactics, coping mechanisms, etc. But the first step has to be honest, critical appraisal of emotions.
On the flip side, what has been the worst advice you have received in regards to feelings?
Emotional blindness, or as I call it: “The imaginary feeling shut off valve”. Pretending that the emotions we experience aren’t affecting us may feel like a move towards “objectivity”. But ignoring the motivating force of emotions actually blinds us to their power to control our patterns of thought and behavior.
What is it about storytelling that you believe has the greatest impact on children?
Children are an amazing combination of imagination and inexperience. The way we make sense of our world is by making connections between things, which is fundamentally an act of story telling. Children have fewer preconceived notions of how the world works, making them much more receptive to stories that fundamentally alter the way they understand and process their experiences.
Do you have more books planned? Should we expect to see more stories featuring Henry?
Yes, I am writing books 2 and 3 in the series right now. Book 1 is very focused on Henry. I want to open up his world in future books to introduce new characters and challenges so that all children can relate regardless of background.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with the TCBR readers about Henry Winterbottom and the Felling Rainbow, your writing or yourself?
You can get the book at:
Henry Winterbottom and the Feeling Rainbow
Written by Jen B Wild
Illustrated by Day
Publisher’s Synopsis: “Henry Winterbottom and the Feeling Rainbow” is an illustrated children’s book written by Jen B. Wild and illustrated by Day. The book is designed to help children understand emotions by reading about Henry’s experience with a colorful spectrum of feelings. Through his adventures, Henry Winterbottom learns about the experience of emotions in a way that is easy for children to understand. Henry and his wild imagination are brought to life with vivid illustrations that pop off the page. This book is aimed at young readers from 4 to 8 years old. The goal of the book is to give children a way to appreciate and embrace their feelings through a main character that we hope will become a trusted companion.
Ages 3-9 | Publisher: La Pixie Publishing | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1732652309
Learn more about the author and book here: A Creative Tale Aimed at Introducing Children to Emotions
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