I am Melanie Adkins, and I am a Picture Book writer and illustrator wannabe! I am hoping that one day I will reach my goal and see my work in print.
Today, I am here as a guest writer to think about character. It always amazes me to think of how all the characters within my work are little pieces of myself.
For example, there is an adventurer bear who wants to show his best friend how to be the best adventurer he can, and his bear friend who is not confident and seeks the help of his brave friend. Together, they make the perfect blend.
Then, I have a warrior warthog, who can’t see his own strengths and instead aspires to be a creature he considers greater than himself. It isn’t until the warthog uses his own strength to rescue his hero that he realises his own worth.
Or an animal who tells stories to impress his friends, only to find that this makes others think he is braver than he is.
It is also interesting to consider the situations in which they find themselves, stories they have told coming to life, the quest for treasure and the rescue of the hero. All of these scenarios provide them with the opportunity to find something out about themselves and make a change. The child-like characters are the agents of change and show children how they can also become active in their own stories.
Picture books are a wonderful platform to encounter aspects about humankind. Within the safe relationship of parent/carer and child, youngsters can extend their experiences and engage in a process of exploration alongside the characters. The age group that picture books appeal to, e.g., 3 to 7 years, is a critical period when children have the capacity to explore more via symbolism and expand their world.
All of the characters I have created embody aspects of myself now or from the past. Just as they master challenges and embrace change during the course of the stories, so have I.
Melanie Adkins is a Child Psychologist who has been an aspiring author and illustrator since her teenage years. She has mainly done this for fun or for children ‘in need’ of a particular story. Recently, she has been more proactive in seeking critique and representation for her work.