Sue Macartney of Oak Bay published her first children’s book in June. (Courtesy of Sue Macartney)

Sue Macartney of Oak Bay published her first children’s book in June. (Courtesy of Sue Macartney)

Oak Bay woman’s first children’s book encourages self-compassion, environmentalism

‘Benjamin’s Blue Feet’ takes place on the Galapagos Islands

An Oak Bay woman’s newly-published children’s book about a blue-footed booby is already a best-seller at a Victoria book store.

More than five years ago Sue Macartney began working on ‘Benjamin’s Blue Feet,’ a coming-of-age story about a booby bird on a self-esteem journey. Along with themes of environmentalism, Macartney’s booby tale tells children that it’s okay to be yourself, to have imperfections and to sometimes struggle with self-confidence.

“I hope they take away that it’s normal for you to feel self-doubt, but what is important is how we learn to deal with it and how we learn to hold our own,” she said.

Macartney has experience in anthropology and graphic design. More recently she started working with children at the Bateman Foundation in Victoria.

“I noticed how young children will start comparing themselves negatively to others,” she said. “We all do it, to varying degrees throughout our lives but it surprised me how young kids are when they starting doing it.”

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Illustrating and writing Benjamin’s Blue Feet was Macartney’s answer to that realization. And on his journey to self-love, Benjamin compares himself to other species on the Galapagos Islands, a character arch that gives young readers insight into the unique and often endangered, species that call the islands home.

Macartney hopes her readers will enjoy learning about some of the wild and wacky species of the Galapagos Islands as much as she did as a child.

“I want them to know a blue-footed booby is a real bird,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t make it up. All of the animals in the Galapagos are real.”

As the little booby goes through a journey of self-discovery he finds pieces of treasure – human trash – something Macartney hopes will be a talking point for parents and guardians to talk to their kids about ocean pollution.

Benjamin collects a “string-stretch-it” and a “twink-um-doodle” among other “treasures.”

“A lot of the stuff he finds is garbage that’s drifted in,” Macartney said. “I was hoping it would be a gentle stepping-off point for parents to talk about ocean trash.

“Even in the Galapagos Islands it’s an issue.”

Macartney was “doubly-excited” to see her book released amid the highly competitive children’s book industry and setbacks of COVID-19.

“Getting your first book accepted and published can take upwards of five to 10 years,” she said. “I’m thrilled to have written and illustrated my first picture book and hope to do many more.”

Released in June, Macartney said the book has already been flying off the shelves at Munro’s Books. ‘Benjamin’s Blue Feet’ is also available at Ivy’s Bookshop and Russell Books.

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Arts and cultureVictoria