Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Welcome back for another interview in our ongoing series. Today we were able to sit down and chat with Nan Arkwright, author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning book, Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure! Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure is an inspiring children’s picture book that aims to help children adjust and build emotional resilience as they face big life changes and challenges. Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure is a great tool for any parent or educator wanting to help children with their emotional control and problem-solving abilities. Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure is also filled with beautiful illustrations that help tell the story, with one reader calling them “Probably the best illustrations I have seen in a children’s book.” Keep reading to find out more about Nan and her amazing book, Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure.
MCA: Hi Nan! Thank you so much for sitting down with us today and congratulations on winning a Mom’s Choice Award. I’d first like to start off the interview by finding out a little background about the author of such an amazing book. Tell us about yourself!
Nan: I knew from an early age that I wanted to work with children. I taught school before becoming an occupational therapist 25 years ago. Writing this book has made me a better therapist, due to the collaboration with colleagues and research I’ve done to show the story is evidence-based. I actually planned to start slowing down my practice, but the opposite happened when I got the idea of writing this book. It’s a reflection of the work I do with families in my therapy sessions but now, as a book, it has a larger reach so many others can benefit beyond just the kids I treat. I care about kids seeing their own possibilities and capabilities, overcoming obstacles, and growing from their experiences. The story is a safe way for them to do this
I love outdoor activities and being in nature year-round. I love reading, sports, clogging, travel, beaches, mountains, chocolate, pets, and drawings kids make of themselves! I also enjoy comedies, opera, theater, wildflowers, wildlife, and national parks.
MCA: It is such a wonderful thing when someone is able to identify their passion at an early age. Can you talk more about your transition into becoming an author?
Nan: I had lots of messages I wanted to get into the hands of families and one day I felt called to share them by writing a book. Despite the fact that I had never done anything like this before in my life I jumped right into the writing. I just assumed I could figure it out. I had a steep learning curve – learning new apps, finding an illustrator, figuring out who I needed to help me, researching, connecting with other authors to learn about writing books, marketing, using social media, managing a team, and much more. There were times when I felt like Joseph, that it was all “too much.” But, using Spaceman Sam’s Sam-isms helped, especially Imagine It! and Believe It!
MCA: You talked a little bit about how your work as an occupational therapist inspired your writing Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure. Can you tell us more about what lead you to write this book?
Nan: I wrote this book so kids and parents could share a story about Big Feelings they both can relate to and to help children who feel that stopping when asked, accepting “no” for an answer, and doing something they don’t want to do is just “too much”. In therapy, using the hero’s journey concept from the book, I help children understand their own journey and how to become agents of positive change for themselves. My desire is to extend my reach by providing resources on my website that families can use to accomplish the same purpose.
And my niece’s dog was the inspiration for Gretchen in the book! They both have a big personality packed into a small body and they both have helped with Big Feelings!
MCA: The people (and animals) in our lives can definitely provide the best inspiration! What are some of the key lessons found in Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure?
Nan: Although there are more lessons in the book, the key ones are highlighted in the back of the book. I call them Sam-isms because they are words of wisdom Spaceman Sam wants kids to know about. He gives kids a 4-step model for what to do with Big Feelings (Feel It!, Say It!, Calm It!, Solve It!). Readers can look for other messages such as co-regulating, growth mindset, breathing, using willpower, being flexible, imagining yourself in the future, and believing in yourself.
MCA: Those are some lessons we at Mom’s Choice really can get behind. Why was it important for you to try and help children to learn to deal with their emotional reactions and grow from setbacks?
Nan: My practice has evolved over the years from more motor-based support to more social-emotional support. In the fast-paced, complex, and unpredictable world we are living in now, families are looking for direction, support, and hope. I want kids to relate to Joseph and his struggles, to his emotions, and to his Mission Accomplished! feeling at the end of the book. I want parents and kids to talk about topics in the book such as optimism, self-control, flexibility, mind-body connection, practice, choices, managing feelings, learning from mistakes, mindset, and more. Finally, I want to model grace and self-care for grown-ups and equip them with tools so they can help their children, as Joseph’s mom did.
MCA: Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure has received amazing reviews from readers online, with a 5-star rating on amazon alone. Can you share with us what some of that feedback has looked like?
Nan: Here are some of the responses I have gotten from my readers:
“My son wore the gauntlet during Zoom class today and was excited to show it off. He had a very good day and pointed to the gauntlet quite a bit. We’ll have it on again tomorrow!”
Parent of 6-year-old
“I really love this book! As an occupational therapist, I’ve used it with a few of the children that I’m seeing with regulation issues and it has been perfect. The children are completely engaged with the graphics and the story. I’m so impressed with how the book has integrated interoception principles, co-regulation principles, calm-down strategies, problem solving, parent regulation, sensory strategies… and lots more in a child-friendly way.”
“As a teacher, I felt that so many students can benefit from all the techniques to control their emotions, anxiousness, nerves, and big feelings. Excellent Book with incredible illustrations that draw you in!”
MCA: If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?
Nan: This book is the first in a series of six my very creative illustrator, Joe Bauman, and I have planned. In each book, the reader will see Joseph growing a smarter and stronger brain and ultimately finding his place in the world, knowing who he is and what his life’s work is. So, my vision is that readers will be inspired by Joseph’s modeling as he matures, to become their best selves too. The promise of tomorrow is powerful!
MCA: Indeed it is very powerful. Thank you for such a great interview, Nan! I know we’re not alone when we say we look forward to hearing more from your series, please be sure to keep us posted!
You can learn more about Nan Arkwright and her award-winning book, Mission: CONTROL! A Big Feelings Adventure by visiting her MCA Shop pages.