The book is beautifully illustrated and it is a story about “the importance of being inclusive, kind and non-judgemental and is perfect for children aged two to eight years of age.”
Bethany Gum has lived in Portimão since February after living in the Netherlands and is currently completing her Gender studies MA course. She has always been passionate about writing and equality and decided to write for fun during lockdown, but it has snowballed into something greater than that as her book has been published by Nightingale Books and her first children’s book is now available to order.
Bethany spent five years teaching Early Childhood learners in Vietnam which she found greatly rewarding and whilst she was working there, she taught children of seven different nationalities so she was in a massively diverse environment. “The director of the school’s main principle was that you are never too young to learn about big ideas”, which supported Bethany’s initiative to talk to the children in me class about diversity. Following on from this, she told me that “the children and this environment really inspired her to write “Suzie the Eight Legged Painter” during the last lockdown.” Additionally, “during this time, Black Lives Matter protests were happening and there was a lot of social unrest in terms of racism and the children were very open to learn everything she shared with them in relation to these issues”. From this she found that it was difficult to talk to children about racism and any kind of discrimination. She also found that the school had few children’s books on discrimination and diversity, other than the narrative of this person is just like me. Bethany, however, wanted to emphasise that “we are not the same and that we are different and that is to be celebrated.”
This sparked the vision for her new children’s book which is about breaking stereotypes “Suzie the spider is ostracised from society for being different and one day, meets a friendly centipede who helps her break the stereotype that spiders are scary. When the insects living in town discover what a talented painter Suzie is, they come out of hiding to watch her, in awe of her painting the community is brought together by art! Suzie’s courage and creativity inspires the other inhabitants of Buzz Town to rethink their stereotype of spiders; are spiders really scary because they have eight legs? Is Suzie really that different to us?”
Bethany hopes to continue writing for children and has lots of ideas in store for Buzz Town as there are “lots of other insects that live there and each insect will have a certain role and certain characteristic which will make for a great future series.”
This thoughtful book is currently available online from Amazon, Waterstones, the Book Depository, Pegasus’ website, and other online outlets. Bethany is also hoping to have the book stocked in local independent book shops here in Portugal. If you know of any other local book stores that sell children’s books in English, Bethany would love for you to get in touch with her. You can contact Bethany at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bethany would also love Suzie’s Facebook page to become more interactive as she would really appreciate some feedback from the children who have read her book, as she plans to do a kind of series including children reading her book and what they thought about it.
To keep up to date with Suzie and all of Bethany’s latest work please check out Suzie’s page at https://www.facebook.com/suziethe8leggedpainter. Additionally, if you would like more information, please check out Bethany’s website at https://bethgum.com.