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Friday, 18 September 2015

Guest Post: Bianca Ross on the Inspiration for the Herbert Peabody Books

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome author Bianca Ross to share the inspiration for her junior fiction series about Herbert Peabody, a friendly farmer who teaches young readers about where their food comes from.

Kids not eating veggies? Herbert Peabody is here to help

Enticing children to eat their vegetables in a fun way has been close to my heart for a long time. I’m a small-time farmer turned author. After playing the corporate game in marketing children’s dairy and juice products, I moved overseas and changed careers to advertising. When I returned home to the foodie frenzy gripping Australia, I noticed something.

I saw many fabulous books connecting adults with food through growing and cooking vegetables, but there weren’t many options for kids. As part of my work, I'd been involved in research groups, observing children trying new products. In one of the sessions, a four year old boy asked me why there was a cow on the frozen yogurt tub. I explained milk was an ingredient, and milk came from cows. He informed me milk came from cartons at the supermarket.

Over the years, this moment stayed with me, and I began to understand the context of the boy's response: he lived in the city, he’d possibly not been to a farm, and like any of us, he didn’t know what he didn’t know. It started me thinking, and I decided if I couldn’t make something of this opportunity, I should give up my day job and find a different career.

So I began crafting an idea. Freelancing full-time, I woke at 5:30am and worked solidly until 7:30am, bringing to life my thoughts on how to connect children with where food comes from. I wanted to create a fun character children would identify with, and felt a book series would be the best way. I wrote every day until the manuscript was complete, found myself an amazing editor and mentor who told me to pursue writing, and the journey to bring about the Herbert Peabody series began.

Herbert Peabody, or Herbie as he’s known to his family and friends, is the new farmer in town who’s enticing kids to understand where their food comes from as he works and raps in the veggie patch. Rapping in a children’s book? I wanted children to interact with the stories and the message, and felt everyone loves to get their kid-friendly Eminem or Jay Z on and rhyme.

I feel it's important for readers to easily engage with characters, so Herbert Peabody maintains his own social media, regularly posting what he’s up to at Mulberry Tree Farm. Herbie’s niece, Clementine, and nephew, Digby, further engage young readers in the stories as they learn important lessons of community and co-operation along the way.

Read more about Bianca's inspiration for Herbert Peabody in her previous guest post for KBR about The Renaissance of the Backyard Veggie Patch.

Bianca C Ross is a writer and small time farmer. The first book in the Herbert Peabody series, Herbert Peabody and His Extraordinary Vegetable Patch, launched in June 2014. The second book, Herbert Peabody and the Incredible Beehive, is out now at all good book stores. For more information about Bianca Ross and the Herbert Peabody books, including printables of Herbie and his friends, visit the Herbert Peabody website and Facebook page.

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