Guest Post by Katy Hudson
The Golden Acorn was inspired by an inquisitive squirrel that lives in my back garden. Every morning she would scurry along the full length of the fence, absently dig up the soil in my recently potted plants, have a sudden epiphany and move onto the next pot before scampering off with her prize. I was slightly annoyed for my plants, but my daughter was fascinated. She is still young and finding her voice, but the Squirrel was a perfect subject matter to introduce different conversations such as; “What is she doing?”, “What has she found?”.
This book was my answer to the questions that I had posed to my toddler – what if this bright-eyed and bushy-tailed squirrel really had been in a mad dash race to find an elusive nut? The speed at which she was racing it was unlikely anyone would be able to keep up with her! She was determined, almost single minded… a trait that can sometimes be problematic in some social situations.
I loved the idea that Squirrel would be the competitive one in the group, and that she would be the fastest, and that’s why The Golden Acorn tells the tale of how squirrel loves to win. However, when The Golden Acorn Hunt gets turned into a team event it means squirrel must work with her friends. I really wanted to explore how these competitive traits can clash with a friendship and highlight the importance of teamwork throughout.
As a child my favourite bit about reading books was imagining the back story of the characters within the story, the things that weren’t seen, the extra woodland that was just past the edge of the page or the secret hiding place behind an insignificant little door in the corner of the page. This is why I wanted to incorporate a strong theme of friendship and teamwork throughout – so that children can imagine the different ways in which these characters will interact with each other off the pages. When children learn to be part of a team, they learn more about different ways of thinking, and improve their ability to communicate with others. Teamwork also helps children feel like a part of a community and can help in all areas of learning. Communication, social, and emotional skills are all strengthened when children learn to work as a team, which can help improve self-esteem and confidence in kids. Having a daughter of my own, I wanted to write a story that incorporates the qualities and life lessons that I am trying to teach her, and teamwork is one of them.
I had a wonderful email a while ago from a family asking about an illustration in my previous book, A Loud Winter’s Nap. Their question was ‘who had planted some carrots at the bottom of the tree?’. One child thought it must be Beaver, the other said it was Tortoise and so they had asked their mum to email the author for the definitive answer – the answer was Rabbit! How wonderful that this detail had sparked so much further curiosity from the two children! The fact children were engaging with the book was really the most I could have ever hoped for and curiosity is something I hope to continue inspiring in children throughout the rest of my books. I have planted some similar details in The Golden Acorn illustrations in the hopes it may continue to spark and encourage the inquisitive nature of children and help them continue to love reading and questioning the world around them.
For a downloadable The Golden Acorn activity kit click here
The Golden Acorn is written and illustrated by Katy Hudson and published by Raintree.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the FCBG.