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.
Hey, Readers! Today we are coming to you with another amazing interview with one of our distinguished honorees! For this interview, we were able to speak with Hélène Ferreira, author of the Mom’s Choice Award-winning book, The Storm Tree! The Storm Treeis the second book in The Blanket Tree Books series. It is an inclusive, fantasy adventure picture book. The Storm Tree is written in rhyme, like a song. The Blanket Tree Books are bedtime stories of inclusivity and growth, learning, and renewal. Keep reading to find out more about the award-winning book, The Storm Tree, as well as the fabulous author behind it, Hélène Ferreira!
MCA: Hi Hélène! Thank you so much for joining us today and congratulations on joining the Mom’s Choice Awards family! The Storm Tree is such a sweet children’s story that is sure to warm the heart of anyone who reads it. We’re so excited to share you and your wonderful book with our audience! Can you introduce yourself by telling everyone a little bit about you?
Hélène: I am blessed to be able to wear many colorful hats. I am a physiotherapist, mom blogger, an avid reader, a travel enthusiast, movie watcher, netball player, friend, daughter, sister, wife, and mother of two. I work from home in my physiotherapy practice. I enjoy studying different languages, playing board games, being on the beach or in nature, and spending time with my family. Writing children’s books is a dream come true for me.
MCA: You sound like you are a very busy woman, we are very grateful you were able to take the time to chat with us today! You say writing a children’s book is a dream come true for you, can you tell us what the path to that dream was like for you?
Hélène: My biggest inspiration growing up, was reading books by many different authors of varied genres. Books are a marvelous escape into an adventure. The imagery in one’s head (and in someone else’s words) can be fascinating! I personally wanted to create books for young readers of varied ages to enjoy. I have been wanting to write children’s books for a long time. One night, during a power failure, the kids and I were lying in bed – telling each other stories. My story was a version of The Rainbow Boat – the first book in The Blanket Tree Books series. I remember my husband asking: “Did you just make that story up?” The next day I wrote it down and it came out in rhyme! And soon one story followed another and another…
MCA: That is so interesting! So did the rest of the books in The Blanket Tree Books series come to be in a similar way?
Hélène: Our family are very musical. My husband and my son both play the piano and the guitar. I love trees, nature and music and the beauty and intensity of thunderstorms. Looking at the hill in our town one day, I imagined a great big tree on the top. Having lived through a fire in the neighboring town and a flood in our own, I saw how disaster can bind a community together. The Storm Tree brought together all these different elements, creating an ‘accidental hero’ who saved a town, but eventually had to credit the Power that enabled it in the first place.
MCA: As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’ It is wonderful you were able to draw inspiration from personal hardships! What are some of the key lessons in The Storm Tree readers can expect to learn?
Hélène: There are big and small lessons. Rosalie learns not to try to profit from a situation without even understanding the meaning of it. If they didn’t already, the townspeople learn to trust in a Higher Power – acting through a musical tree in this story. The tree learns not to take pride in a situation not of its own making. I think the people of the town are also more firmly bound together as a community by the tree. Firstly, by being saved from disaster; then by rebuilding their town together and eventually by finding mutual joy through music up on the tree’s hill.
MCA: There are such beautiful illustrations that can be found within The Storm Tree that really help with bringing the story to life. Can you tell us a little bit about the illustrations and the inspiration behind them?
Hélène: My daughter and I drew many of the concept sketches for the books together. The illustrators (Creature of Habit – Creative by Nature) were amazingly patient and helpful in conjuring their vision and aligning it with mine. They created beautiful digital animation, which I kept tweaking and tweaking. My main idea with the illustrations was to create an inclusive community, where different people emerge from trials and tribulations as a stronger unit.
MCA: Well your vision definitely came to fruition, the illustrations absolutely create an inclusive community of different people to anyone who views them. What kind of response from readers have you received?
Hélène: My friends’ children love the stories! They read and reread them. That makes me happy.
As a child I loved books with colorful illustrations. I wanted to create bright, happy books with somewhat surprising elements and valid life lessons.
Thankfully, it seems that the kids who have received/purchased one of The Blanket Tree Books enjoyed it. I thank every person who gave me positive feedback. In a kids’ magazine giveaway, kids had to fold a rainbow boat. (The first book in the series is called The Rainbow Boat.) I got sent lovely photos of all the boats! I shared a number of books at a local school. They drew and sent me beautiful ‘thank you’ pictures inspired by the book!
MCA: Tell us what we can expect to see next in The Blanket Tree Books series!
Hélène: Currently there are two English books and one Afrikaans book in the series. Afrikaans is my home language in South Africa. The next book will be an English one with a lively animal in the lead role. A quirky little character who learns some interesting life lessons while on a strange journey brought on by a minor disaster. But will he learn? This we will have to find out together.
MCA: That is so exciting to hear! Please keep us posted on when your next book will be out.
You can learn more about Hélène Ferreira and her award-winning book, The Storm Tree by visiting her MCA Shop pages.