Today I have a fantastic guest post about inspiration from lovely author Melissa Savage to celebrate the release of Bigfoot, Tobin and Me a wonderful new Middle Grade book dealing with grief and moving forward.
Bigfoot, Tobin and Me was released on the 4th May 2017 published by Chicken House.
When I asked Melissa about the inspiration behind the story and following reading her guest post it made me quite emotional…..
Lemonade’s mother named her for her favourite saying: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But now her mum’s dead. After relocating to her grandpa’s place in Bigfoot-obsessed Willow Creek, Lem meets Tobin. Quirky and determined, he’s the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. Lem is reluctantly enlisted as his assistant. Together, they try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film, but what they find is even more amazing.
Inspiration for Bigfoot, Tobin & Me
As a licensed therapist working with children, I have used many different research based techniques to make connections with my clients, and story is one of those tools. I have found narrative work with children to be especially effective to assist them in learning healing strategies and adaptive coping mechanisms. Just as story was important in my life growing up, I know it is important to other children as well, and therefore I choose to write about social issues.
Years ago, there was one little boy I will never forget because of the impact one particular story had on him during a session. This sweet, wiggly, little guy had been permanently removed from his home due to abuse and neglect and was currently living in a foster home. At the very end of our session, I read him a therapeutic picture book about a mistreated kitten who needed a new home because the family who cared for the kitten did not treat the kitten as he deserved to be cared for. This little boy listened to that story so intently, eyes wide and without a single wiggle. When I read the very last line and closed the book, he looked up at me from over his glasses that sat low on his nose and said, that kitten is just like me! It’s those small miracles in therapy that we hope for, that we have made an impact towards healing. On that day, I knew he felt understood. On that day, he felt that he was not alone. And the tool that assisted me in making that special connection with him was story. And I knew he was finally on his way to learning how to heal.
Story is so many things to us. It is integral to our history and continues to be important to connect humankind today. Story can entertain and enlighten us. It can help to shape who we become and how we fit in the world. Story can give us a sense of belonging and help us feel not so alone in our differences or in the hardships we face.
And it can help us heal.
I’ve been asked if the subject matter of grief and loss in Bigfoot, Tobin & Me is too much for the middle grade reader. In fact, in my work with children and families, I know that many children have either gone through an equally devastating loss themselves or may know someone else who has. At the very least, these children are all too familiar with what goes on in our world today. We cannot shield everything from them and they need our guidance to understand it at a developmentally appropriate level and be guided in their healing process as they learn to sustain their own coping ability. And with that healing, a sustained sense of hope and joy, in spite of the fear and sadness brought on by tragedy.
Most recently after suffering my own difficult loss, I’ve had the privilege to walk beside other children and families who have suffered difficult losses. It was devastating to have to share such sadness with others, yet healing too, because we were not alone. What is it that shapes who we are? Experiences both good and bad. Although no one ever wishes for bad experiences, it is the hardships and the adversity that molds us to be more than we are each time we must endure it. It is in adversity that we grow and learn and change. We become stronger for it, we become more loving and we certainly become more capable. And story is one of those wonderful ways in which we can learn empathy and coping as we bear witness to experiences in books that we have not experienced in our own lives. To shield our children from the realities they will be faced would be a disservice. Loss is one of the most difficult things we will go through in our lives. However, it truly is what is hard that builds our character, forms our strength, and shapes who we will become. And what we become is up to us. What an amazing lesson to teach our children.
Bigfoot, Tobin & Me by Melissa Savage out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)
Find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com
You can also buy a copy here or from your local bookshop
About Melissa Savage
Melissa D. Savage’s first book, The Lost Pony, premiered in her second grade classroom, winning high praise from critics such as her mom. Although the book was hand written and self-illustrated in Crayola Crayons, it was this experience that began her love of writing and to this day she still believes was one of her best works. Melissa continued to create stories growing up, writing different adventures for friends to read and later completed a Master’s Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Hamline University in Minnesota. She was privileged to be able to receive guidance from amazing authors, educators, and fellow writers who shared their wisdom, experience, and support. Since then, she has been recognized for her work at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference in both the Middle Grade and Young Adult Genres. Most recently, Melissa’s debut book, Lemons has been recognized by the American Booksellers Association on their Independent Booksellers’ debut picks of the season list, Indies Introduce Winter/Spring 2017.
Melissa is a writer and a child and family therapist. She has worked with families struggling with issues of abuse, trauma and loss/bereavement. She believes that expressing oneself through writing can be a very healing process when struggling with difficulties in life. In addition it can be a vehicle in which to honor, celebrate and continue to share the spirits of the special people who have left us too soon. Melissa lives in Minneapolis with her family.
You can find out more about Melissa on her website – www.melissadsavage.com
Or why not follow Melissa on twitter – @melissadsavage
You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to Melissa for such a gorgeous and thoughtful blog post and to Laura at Chicken House for organising and asking me to be part of this fab tour!
Have you read Bigfoot, Tobin & Me? What did you think? What was your favourite part? If you have not read it yet have we tempted you to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!