My publishing and book design company, Top Reads Publishing, recently had a booth at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Orlando, where I was given some great feedback from librarians and teachers about our forthcoming book, Misho of the Mountain. In advance of the event, Diana, the author, and I collaborated and created an information sheet about our book to give librarians in the hope of getting feedback at this early stage of development.
Also, by visiting the many other booths showing children’s books I got a clear sense that we are doing something important and very different. Diversity is a primary theme these days, with many books showing multi-racial kids, but a conversation I had with one very wise retired librarian gave me a little deeper insight into just how far diversity expands. She told me how young Asian kids sometimes try to disfigure their faces so they don’t look so Asian. And how kids with disabilities or deformities so desperately need to see themselves in stories so they don’t feel so alone.
This is the true beauty of Misho. Her hardships mold her into a twisty, bendy tree, so abnormal that she feels she is not beautiful, and certainly not how she is “supposed to look.” How many of us are faced with that every time we watch TV, or read a magazine or are served ads on our social media feeds—all saying or showing what the ideal is that we are supposed to emulate? By telling our story through the viewpoint of our special little tree, Misho’s message is that even though life is hard and we may not always win, we can survive and find the beauty in things like friendship, perseverance, and being willing to go forward no matter what lies ahead.
Misho is a hero of the very ordinary type, and we hope our readers will be able to see a little bit of Misho in themselves, just as we do bringing her story to life.
Teri Rider is the illustrator and book designer for Misho of the Mountain, A Read Aloud Adventure in Five Parts, due to be released in late 2016.