Show me a “Do not walk on the grass” sign and my shoe will just accidentally have to graze along the blades. If I’m warned “Don’t touch the hot plate”, my fingers are scorched as I check exactly how hot the plate really is. And obvious messages in books? I want to do exactly the opposite to the message, or throw the book away. I do not like to be lectured when I read.
So, it was a real challenge for me to write A New Friend for Marmalade, which has the significant message of accepting those who are different to us. I want children to enjoy my books and not to feel as if they are reading a “message” book. I needed to write a book with a significant but invisible message.
I decided the best way was to show the behaviour rather than commenting on it. This would allow the readers to reach their own conclusions. I think it’s important to leave gaps in books to encourage active reading where the reader uses their own imagination.
The close friendship between Ella, Maddy and Marmalade was explored in my previous book, A Year with Marmalade. In A New Friend for Marmalade, I introduced Toby who is very different from Ella and Maddy. He is super active and exuberant. All he wants is to be friends with them, but he doesn’t know how to gain their friendship.
The girls exclude Toby from their play, not because they are being mean, but because they’re not sure how to handle his exuberance. And poor Toby lacks the social skills to know how to fit in.
Marmalade immediately accepts Toby as a friend, and doesn’t even notice that he’s a bit different. Throughout the book I show how when the girls get irritated by Toby’s behaviour, Marmalade will rub his head against Toby for a pat or purr.
I wanted to celebrate Toby's special qualities - his exuberance and unique way of seeing and doing things. I wanted to show that once the girls were prepared to accept Toby's differences, they could all be good friends.
When Marmalade is trapped up a tree, it is the resourceful Toby who comes up with a solution. The three children are finally mentally and physically together when they each take a corner of Toby’s cloak, and Marmalade jumps to safety.
I loved the challenge of writing this story. I tried to make it a funny, enjoyable read, yet with a strong, invisible message of being tolerant of other people and accepting their differences. Hopefully, I succeeded.
A NEW FRIEND FOR MARMALADE Blog Tour
11th Dee White – review and post
11th Chris Bell – post
12th Angela Sunde – interview with Heath
12th KBR – book giveaway
13th Boomerang Books – Post with Dimity Powell
14th KBR Guest post
14th KBR Review
14th Sally Murphy – Meet my book
15th Buzz Words – Interview
17th Alison Reynolds – Ask the Bean Counter – Mr X
17th Pass-it-on Post and Review- Jackie Hosking
18th Alison Reynolds – Ask the Publisher – Kay Scarlett
Pet contest for all ages!
Marmalade the cat is full of personality. Do you have a pet with personality? Win a piece of artwork by Heath McKenzie. Send along a photo of your personality-plus pet to Alison Reynolds website, email Alison or upload to Alison's Facebook page.
Random book giveaways!
Just leave a comment on one of the posts in the blog tour, comment on facebook or even email Alison that you want to enter competition to win A New Friend for Marmalade.
Jump the Slush Pile!
Win a free pass to a Children’s editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials CB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.
Win a free pass to a Non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.
Win an assessment of Chapter One of a chapter book by the fabulous mentor extraordinaire Dee White. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials DW. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.
Win a free picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds! Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials PB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.