Get to Know Elyse Shellie and The Little Book of Hopes!

March 14th, 2022

This month we are celebrating the release of the beautiful new book The Little Book Of Hopes! 

We had a chat with the super talented debut author, Elyse Shellie! 

Tell us about The Little Book of Hopes!

The Little Book of Hopes is a collection of hopes and dreams adults may have for the wellbeing of children in their care. I wrote it with my own son in mind but wanted it to be applicable to any kind of family. Evie’s beautiful and diverse illustrations make this dream a reality.

Where did the inspiration for The Little Book of Hopes come from?

My inspiration for writing The Little Book of Hopes was my son, who was only four months old at the time. My husband and I were having a discussion about children’s’ mental health and that got me thinking about all the hopes I have for my son’s wellbeing as he grows. I wrote an Instagram post for him including all these hopes and quickly realised I could turn this into a children’s book.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I had quite a few because I loved to read. As a really little child, The Wizard of Oz was my favourite story that my parents would read to me, but as I grew, I loved reading The Tales of Peter Rabbit, Harry Potter and Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul. A couple of my favourite picture books were Bad Mood Bear by John Richardson and The Tunnel by Anthony Browne. 

What did you enjoy the most about writing a picture book?

Learning about the editing process! Teaching writing to primary school students, we always discuss how the editing process isn’t just one round of editing, it needs to be continually revised and edited until it is the best work you can produce. I worked with a wonderful editor, Jane Smith, prior to sending my manuscript to New Frontier, who taught me lots about the beginning of the editing process and helped me fine tune my writing style. 

Once my manuscript was accepted by New Frontier, I had the opportunity to work with the amazing Tasha Evans who was incredibly patient and taught me the importance of not getting too attached to the exact way I had written something and to learn to play around with the words so that they worked well for the intended audience but still got my message across. I felt so lucky to be able to work with such wonderfully nurturing people for my first book because I’ve found that I’m a lot more ruthless with my own editing now!

Where do you like to write?

I like to write anywhere that is quiet. I have trouble writing in noisy environments, so at the moment with a two-year-old running around, night time in bed is best! I wrote the first draft of The Little Book of Hopes in bed on my phone while I was feeding my son.

How long did The Little Book of Hopes take to write?

I wrote the first draft in one night. I just had to get the words out! As I’ve mentioned though, that first draft is not what you see in the book today. The whole process, including the many rounds of editing, took a little over a year.

What do you do in your spare time?

I don’t really have a lot of spare time at the moment, but I think that’s because I’ve filled it with things I like to do. I’m completing my Master of Education (Wellbeing and Positive Mental Health) because I love learning new things and want to better my teaching for my students. I write because it’s my favourite way to express what I’m feeling and thinking. My favourite thing in the world to do is to play and read with my son and go for family outings to see the look of awe on his face when he learns new things.

What would you like young readers and their caregivers to take away from The Little Book of Hopes?

I hope that young readers and their caregivers take with them the theme of kindness, for themselves and for others. I believe that the ability to be resilient, persistent, tolerant, and empathetic is born from being kind to ourselves and that this kindness for ourselves and others is taught through the relationships we have with those around us (especially our primary caregivers).

My favourite quote is by R.J. Palacio from the book Wonder: 'When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.' This quote helped drive the themes throughout The Little Book of Hopes.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself!

The first book I ever wrote and illustrated was when I was in Grade 5 and it was called Toilet Paper Roll and Handkerchief. It was about discarded items that lived in a bathroom together. I clearly have a strange sense of humour!

Thank you Elyse for answering all of our curious questions! 
You can find Elyse on Instagram @elyseshellie 

The Little Book of Hopes

An enchanting book expressing all the hopes and wishes parents have for their children. Celebrating kindness, resilience and empathy, this book is the perfect collection of dreams for the future.

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Tags: picture book, children's book

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