Wendy Monica Winter - Playful and Uplifting Children’s Books

Wendy Monica Winter - Playful and Uplifting Children’s Books

Wendy Monica Winter is an award-winning author who lives with her husband, Calvin, in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. Wendy enjoys bouncing around like Mamma Kangaroo. You can spot her big grin as she plays with kids at the park. She also likes to visit the local mountains to bounce on her mountain bike and even her skis! She loves exploring new cultures and countries on our beautiful planet. In fact, travel inspired her to write her first book. While teaching in Perth, Australia, Wendy came up with this story, WHERE’S MY JOEY? This award-winning book is the first in a series. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about this book.

Please give us a short introduction to what Where's My Joey is about.

It's dinner time but Mamma Kangaroo cannot find her Joey. She must venture out to find her young one before dinner gets cold. Who will she meet on her quest? Does she succeed in finding her Joey?

What inspired you to write a bedtime story featuring a kangaroo?

I taught in Perth, Australia in 2007. I was sending a furry kangaroo album filled with my photos of Australian animals to my young nieces in Arkansas. As I was putting the photos in the album, I downloaded the story. I went out and bought speech bubble stickers and the next day the gift was in the mail. At the back of the book are a few shots from that original album.

Also, my sister-in-law, Aurora Winter, has assisted many authors in writing and publishing their books. She inspired me to publish Where’s My Joey? by guiding me into each of the steps involved in indie publishing.

Why do you enjoy writing children's books?

I'm a teacher and I love to connect with children of all ages. I also think some useful insights into life can be portrayed simply in a child's picture book.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I enjoy being physically active, especially in the mountains. I used to be an ultramarathoner and my longest race was 1000 miles in 16 days so I would say endurance is my not-so-secret secret skill. Another superpower of mine is that I can make a nice meal for a lot of people without much notice. Does that count as a secret skill?

The illustrations are beautiful. Tell us more about it.

The illustrator, Roxana Chitanu (née Antochi), far exceeded what I was expecting from her. She spent a lot of time researching the Australian flora and fauna to ensure its accuracy. She did not miss a thing. My favorite illustration is the one with Mamma Kangaroo reading to Joey. I love the book she is holding with a picture on her holding the book that has a picture of her holding the book... This concept was inspired by the "Borax Girl" who mesmerized me in my youth.

Does the book contain a hidden message? What do you hope readers will take away from it?

When Mamma Kangaroo reads to school children, she will often ask them what do people look for all over the world that they have to find within themselves. She has gotten many answers such as:

* Glasses when they are really on your head.

* Cellphones when they are in your bag.

As well as some deeper insights such as:

* Where does happiness need to start?

* How can we love another person if we don't love ourselves first?

* We have to be peaceful within if we want to be creating a peaceful world.

This book received several awards. What has the experience been like?

It is thrilling to open an email announcing that Where's My Joey? has won an award. My most meaningful award is the Wishing Shelf award because I am a teacher and it was decided by British school children. I also really appreciate the constructive feedback from the children and teachers that Edward Trayer (aka Billy Bob Buttons) from Wishing Shelf sent to me.

What did you have the most fun with when creating this story?

The most fun is sharing the story with others. My 92-year-old mother, Trudy Dorn, lives with my husband and me. She is also a children’s book author and illustrator. At Hallowe'en, we had a lot of fun handing out both our books.

When we have young visitors, I love to play Where’s My Joey? with them. I have quite a collection of stuffed kangaroo animals and we take turns hiding Joey so that Mamma Kangaroo can look for him. The cutest thing is when a child likes your hiding spot so much that on the next round they put Joey in the exact same location. 😊

Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?

As a writer, they were all very easy to create. I think this might be a better question for Roxana as she did an amazing amount of research to illustrate each of the animals.

Why did you decide to include a maze at the end?

Some very dear friends live in Chartres, France and I have had the fortune to go to the Chartres Cathedral which their ancestors built. The labyrinth in that church inspired the idea of the maze. I like the symbolism of having to go further away to reach the goal. I find a lot of hope in that concept.

Do you have any interesting writing habits?

I think the interesting thing about my writing habits is that I don't so much build a story in my mind but rather that I just all of sudden have it in its entirety.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

My website is wendymonicawinter.com. My favorite page is the one that gives more details about Joey's friends. Australia has so many interesting and unusual animals. This page also will help with pronouncing quokka, echidna, and emu.

I love getting emails from readers; my address is [email protected]

I especially love when kids send me the pictures they have colored from the Where's My Joey? Coloring Book.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on my second picture book. It is about how much more powerful light is than dark. It features a brave girl and a very scary family of monsters. It is about choosing love over fear. I am inspired by my third picture book as well but I want to just focus on one at a time.