Guest post By Jesica Nkouaga
Do you ever wonder where children’s authors get their story ideas?
Children’s stories can come from almost anywhere. Children’s authors write about personal experiences, experiences they witness, experiences with their children, and of course, ideas from their imagination. Authors also get ideas from other authors, by reading children’s books and then gaining new inspiration for a story, or by modifying a story to include different characters or a similar but different storyline.
I recently authored the book entitled Emmanuel and the Hedgehog which is about a young boy named Emmanuel who finds an injured hedgehog in a field while he is helping his mother plant sweet potatoes. Emmanuel decides to take care of the hedgehog and nurse it back to health.
As you read, find out what events unfold as Emmanuel decides to secretly take the hedgehog to school with him in his backpack!
Emmanuel and the Hedgehog was inspired by a true experience that I had while living and teaching English in Uganda for two years in 2011 and 2012.
In Uganda, I had a neighbor boy who was named Emmanuel. One day he brought over a bucket with a hedgehog in it. He explained how he had found the hedgehog and was taking care of it. He gracefully picked it up from underneath in the same way that Emmanuel and his mother do in the story.
He set the hedgehog down on our veranda and I watched it walk around, or rather glide around gracefully. When I bent down to try to touch it, it rolled up in a little ball to protect itself. This was the first time I had seen a hedgehog in real life, and the care that Emmanuel gave it impressed me. The experience touched me enough that I remembered it years later, in 2018, I decided to write about the experience in a children’s story.
I consider Emmanuel and the Hedgehog to be inspired by a true experience because I had a real-life experience where I met Emmanuel and his hedgehog in Uganda, and the experience inspired me to write the story. In my view, this is slightly different than a story that is based on a true story.
A story inspired by a true experience means that you gained the inspiration for the story from a real-life experience, but it doesn’t mean that all, or even most, of the events in the story occurred in real life. In contrast, a story that is based on a true story includes a plot and storyline with many events that did occur in real life.
When I read “Emmanuel and the Hedgehog” to my nephews, they asked me, “did you really meet Emmanuel?” I said, “yes!” They asked if I saw a real hedgehog, and I said, “yes!” They asked if Emmanuel really took the hedgehog to school in his backpack, and I said, “I don’t know.” That is were my imagination kicked in!
Jesica has taught English as a second and foreign language in Jordan, Honduras, Thailand, Macau, Uganda, and the USA. She aspires to create fun and meaningful books for children. Her first book, “Baha’i Coloring Book for Families and Children” was published in 2012. Her second book, “The Diamond Family Plays Hide And Seek” was published in January 2018. “A Walk In Nature, Une Promenade En Nature” was her third book published in July of 2018. Her fourth book, Emmanuel and the Hedgehog” was published in 2019. Her husband, a native French speaker, translated the second and third books into French. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, doing puzzles with her husband, cooking international recipes, and creating children’s books.