A quacking story
Long before launching The Authentic Bermuda Shorts store [TABS], Rebecca Singleton wrote stories for children. Then working in London, England, she would type her ideas into her laptop as she travelled on her daily commute.
A decade later, with two young sons of her own, she decided to do something with them.
The Little Blue Ducky is the designer’s first book. Illustrated by Katherine Summerville, published “with the help of a lot of really talented people”, it is set in Bermuda.
“Storytelling has always been in my DNA,” she said.
“I’ve always used it as a way of processing emotions. I regularly journal, I write poems for people and I used to write on my commute. On my way to London, I wrote a bunch of children’s stories on my laptop.
“Ten years and two babies later, I started reading them to my children and then I met Katherine Summerville. I love her illustrations. She has taken the story and embodied the messages [in her art]. She ran with it and added on layers of complexity.”
The Little Blue Ducky is about Fred and Fran, identical ducks, who are best friends.
“They’re going to school one day and take a short cut through Spittal Pond,” the author said.
“Fran falls into a pot of blue paint. Fred doesn’t want to be friends with her because she’s different, and leaves her stuck in the pot.”
Instead of panicking, Fran frees herself, but then starts “having negative thoughts”. Her primary concerns: that the other ducks will not accept her because she does not look like them any more, and that her mother will not know who she is.
“But her mother recognises her quack and says it doesn’t matter, your friends and family will always love you,” Ms Singleton said.
“She realises it doesn’t matter and decides to embrace being different. At school the next day, Fred realises he made a mistake. Fran chooses to forgive him.”
With the aid of Heather Willens, a teacher and “a good friend”, the book includes talking points to help young readers grasp the importance of such things as embracing differences and forgiveness. Inspired by her sons, Thomas, 3, and Finn, 1, the author’s hope was to do more than just tell a story.
“I would read to my children, close the books and they would go to bed,” Ms Singleton said.
“As a working mom, I really only have a couple hours with them each day. It’s a special time, but I often thought when reading the books: ‘What are they getting out of it?’ Sure, they can name superheroes, but what messages are they getting out of the story? I want a book to be more than just a book. I want to help my children learn. This is the prime time for teaching them something.
“Heather pulled out key messages from the book — things to think about and do with children that are relevant to the child’s age group. I can sit with both kids and read and they can each get something out of it.
“I was reading The Little Blue Ducky and the story was resonating with them. The messages are so important in the world we’re living in right now and Thomas kept asking me to read it.
“I didn’t want him to feel that he has to be this or that. I wanted him to know that it’s OK to be blue, to be sad — which is one of the messages for older kids.”
Since the book’s release, she has been travelling the island, speaking at schools and gifting students with The Little Blue Ducky crayons “to further the message”.
“My goal is to encourage young readers, but also to spread the message that it’s OK to be different,” Ms Singleton said.
“It’s really amazing to see it resonating with people. This is such a passion project for me. The messages are so important for young people and the book is helping with language development through rhyme.”
Rather than go the traditional route, she decided to self-publish the book.
“It just felt like the right time,” she said. “If I get picked up by a publisher it would be amazing, but my goal is to impact Bermuda.
“I realised I could do it myself, and the marketplace here has been so receptive — Brown&Co, Bermuda Book Store and the [children’s] library.
“I figured that if I could just do it in a small way, do it locally, what’s the worst that could happen? If I can get into schools and positively impact young people, if I can get more kids to say it’s OK to be different, I’m happy.”
• The Little Blue Ducky is available at The Bookmart at Brown&Co, at the Bermuda Book Store, Luxury Gifts Bermuda, Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art and Tabs, for $25. Author Rebecca Singleton will sign copies tomorrow, at Brown&Co between 12pm and 3pm, and at Luxury Gifts Bermuda, between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. She will also be at the BHS Christmas Bazaar, on December 7. Follow The Little Blue Ducky on Instagram. For more information: littleblueducky.com
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