A simple little ditty, shared between a grandmother and granddaughter, has led to a new children’s book by an 11-year-old author, all about self-esteem and saying no to drugs.
Lara Beattie, who lives in Central Saanich,says she woke up one morning “and out of the blue, by gramma began reciting ‘Little Suzie Walker is quite the little talker, she knows just what to say to keep the drugs away’.”
It was that saying — and her inquisitive and creative mind — that sparked the idea of a story in Lara’s mind and had led to the publishing of the book #SuperTalker and Ugh! the Drug Bug.
Lara’s already a young writer, said her grandmother, Holly Beattie, during an interview at their Central Saanich home. She added she also talks with Lara a lot about the issue of drugs and drug use. Lara is about the age where children are curious, asking questions and beginning to have opinions about such things. Holly was a school teacher for many years and knows it’s a good thing to recognize this, and for parents to have meaningful conversations with their kids.
Lara agreed and said she wanted to write a story about a confident character who is able to resist temptation — and feel good about their choices. Lara said she’s been writing creatively for a long time, especially about cat tribes in the forest and dragons. This latest book is her first officially published work and became a summertime project for herself and her gramma.
The story is about Suzie Walker, the #SuperTalker. She’s an empowered young girl who is able to talk back to anyone offering drugs — like Ugh! the Drug Bug. Suzie meets the Drug Bug, who targets kids and tried to get them hooked on drugs.
“But the Drug Bug doesn’t see how much self-esteem she has,” Lara said.
Suzie is able to build a tower of self-esteem to overpower the Drug Bug, who is eventually squished by an elephant character that represents the strength in everyone. Each of the book’s illustrations — also drawn by Lara — include the elephant.
“It’s a metaphor of how to stay in the light,” added Holly. “The message in the book is about self-esteem, being able to recognize it and how to use it in order to make good choices.”
Lara and Holly spent the summer writing outlines for the book and the illustrations. Holly said it was important to make sure the book was written from a kid’s perspective, so that it might spark positive conversations between children and their parents and teachers.
And it seems that their book has resonated with some of Lara’s classmates, friends and even at her school. She attends St. Joseph’s School in Saanich and she has a buddy in Grade 1. She read it to her and Lara said her buddy drew a picture of Suzie for her.
The book has even got the attention of some teachers who used it as an example in their classrooms and it could soon be in the school library. Holly added they printed on about a dozen so far back on Oct. 25, and they have already been spoken for.
Lara is very happy with the reception — and attention — her book has gotten so far. She said she really enjoys writing and hopes to turn it into a career (as well as being a doctor and a singer!).
To find out more about #SuperTalker and Ugh! the Drug Bug, email email@example.com or visit their website (still in progress) www.smidjinpublishing.com.