The Children’s Book Review Interview in partnership with Carole P. Roman, the author of Henrietta Hedgehog’s Prickly Problem
Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of over fifty children’s books. Whether it’s pirates, princesses, spies, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children of all ages. Her best-selling book, The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids: 800+ Jokes! has reached number one on Amazon in March of 2020 and has remained in the top 200 books since then.
In this interview, Carole talks about how she comes up with ideas for her stories, how self-discovery can happen through conversations with supportive peers, and more about creating Henrietta Hedgehog’s Prickly Problem.
Carole, you’re the award-winning author of over fifty books for kids. What’s your secret for continually coming up with new ideas for stories?
Carole P. Roman: Everywhere I go, I am confronted with people struggling with issues like bullying or self-esteem. I thought it would all end when my sons grew up, but there are grandchildren, nephews, and great-nieces, not to mention friends and their children. I work in an office where I’ll hear about someone dealing with their child, and if one of my stories helps another person going through a problem, then I am happy I put the thoughts on paper.
The text’s message is clear and concise while also entertaining, letting kids know that they are perfect just as they are and that name-calling is never okay. What or who was the inspiration for Henrietta Hedgehog’s Prickly Problem?
We talk a lot about bullying or body shaming, yet it continues. Years ago, these subjects were never dealt with. You would think that with all the sensitivity training and great books out there, it would be a thing of the past. If one of my stories helps a family cope or makes someone realize what they are doing is hurtful to someone else, I am satisfied. Every book I write is a message to my audience of everything I learned the hard way. I hope my experiences will soften a difficult road for someone else.
What would you like readers to know about this story?
I wrote this book because of TikTok. I have watched videos of people who alter their appearance for the most absurd reasons. I’ve seen people use surgery to change their body type and face based on what they think will make them more likable or accepted. Our differences make us interesting! Why do we allow strangers to dictate the perception of beauty or how smart someone should be?
I run a large transportation company with over 400 employees. I often have to act as an arbitrator (Mom) to all of them. They fight, misinterpret comments, find fault, and yes, even some of the grown-ups can be reduced to name-calling and bullying. That’s why we have human resources departments, and I wonder, what’s wrong with us that we need them? Shouldn’t we all have learned this stuff yet?
Henrietta is having a lot of self-doubt about her appearance. Even though Mama reassures Henrietta that her spines are beautiful, Henrietta must discover this for herself. I love that self-discovery ultimately comes through conversations with supportive peers. Was this a conscious choice while writing the story?
Discussion is always good. All my books have that element in them. We need a support system not just for problems, but we don’t want to surround ourselves with an echo chamber. It’s very important to hear everyone’s point of view. You may not see something as an issue, but from their vantage point, it may be devastating. It’s vital that we not only listen to each other but hear what we are saying as well. One of the things we always practiced in my household was concentrating on hearing what the other person was saying.
You have delivered a thoughtful, caring story that all elementary children could benefit from reading. Do you have any tips for how teachers could use this book in the classroom?
Reading it and then opening it up for discussion. I think a great exercise would be making a replica of Bella’s teeth and then asking the children how it makes them feel and what they thought Bella was thinking. (Sharp spines may present more of a problem, lol.)
You have once again paired up with children’s book illustrator Mateya Arkova. Readers will quickly become enamored by the sweetly illustrated Henrietta—pink, rosy cheeks. What kind of input did you provide for the artwork?
Mati is a delight to work with. I sent her the story and she created the visuals based on the manuscript. She sent over a sample, and I was in love with Henrietta. She captured the whimsy of all the characters. She is intuitive as she is talented!
This quote by Judy Garland on the dedication page offers a perfect summary of what to expect from the theme of Henrietta Hedgehog’s Prickly Problem: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” I know that you love including quotes in your books. Was this the obvious choice—it seems like it—or were there other contenders?
The minute I saw the quote, I knew it was the one for this book. It described everything I needed to say about this book.
During the COVID lockdown, I wrote four children’s books that were unrelated, Giggles Galore, Mrs. Rabbit’s Friendsgiving Dinner, Henrietta Hedgehog’s Prickly Problem, and another book about a fight between a group of bugs. I haven’t titled it yet. I didn’t frame them in a series and published them as individuals. The only series I am working on is Grady Whill Book 2.
What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing this story?
Challenging is always selling the books. Marketing takes time, effort, and sometimes a substantial amount of money. The rewarding aspect is getting those emails or reviews where someone indicates the book changed them or helped them with a prickly problem.
Is there anything else you feel we should know about Henrietta Hedgehog’s Prickly Problem, yourself, or your writing?
I hope they pick up a copy of the book. All my books have messages, and I like to think, filled with hope. I write them for a diverse audience, and they are not just for kids. I’ve had more than a few adults say reading it helped them through a tough time because they saw a glimpse of themselves in the characters.
Written by Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by Mateya Arkova
Ages 3+ | 44 Pages
Publisher: Chelshire, Inc. | ISBN-13: 9781950080083
Publisher’s Book Summary: Henrietta Hedgehog is having a bad day.
She doesn’t want to go to school. When her mother questions her, Henrietta admits that she doesn’t want to be a hedgehog anymore.
Henrietta’s quills make her feel unapproachable, and the other kids don’t want to be her friend.
Henrietta comes up with a plan to fit in but discovers that sometimes the most important person to accept you is yourself.
Join Henrietta and her critter companions as they learn that the things they might not like the most about themselves can be more important than they realize.
Buy the Book
About the Author
As well as being the award-winning author of over fifty children’s books. Carole P. Roman Roman is the CEO of a global transportation company, as well as a practicing medium.
She published Mindfulness for Kids with J. Robin Albertson-Wren. and has co-authored two self-help books: Navigating Indieworld: A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing with Julie A. Gerber, and Marketing Indieworld with both Julie A. Gerber and Angela Hausman. She also writes adult fiction under the name Brit Lunden and has created an anthology of the mythical town of Bulwark, Georgia, with a group of indie authors.
Writing is her passion and one of her favorite pastimes. Roman reinvents herself frequently, and her family calls her the ‘mother of reinvention.’ She resides on Long Island, near her children and grandchildren.
For more information, visit http://www.caroleproman.com/.
Read our review of Henrietta Hedgehog’s Prickly Problem here.