As an Australian immigrant, author and happiness blogger, I understand firsthand the opportunities that a country like Australia offers. Born in Canada, my husband and I moved to Sydney twenty years ago and have raised two Aussie sons in a country bursting with beauty – and jacaranda trees.
I remember making ‘jacaranda snow’ with my two boys when they were little and asked to see snow. Sydney’s jacarandas inspired me to write the first draft of my debut picture book, Jacaranda Snow.
I read a 2016 report from the Australian Council of Social Services, which documented that over 731,000 Australian children between the ages of 0-16 live below the poverty line. I wanted to write a story that includes these children in our Australian literary landscape. All children deserve to see themselves in picture books. But not many books feature kids who live with less.
I combined my love of jacarandas – and the history and urban legend that surrounds them – into a modern Australian classic story for all our Jacaranda kids.
I’ve found responses like this from the South of Sydney, where a ‘Mrs Haxton [at Jacaranda Maternity Hospital in Caringbah] would carry the baby to the car, followed by a nurse who carried the mum’s bag in one hand and a jacaranda tree in the other.’ I love to imagine that many of our Australian suburbs are graced by jacarandas planted by mothers in the 1940s and 1950s.
I knew jacarandas were a symbol of Australian children. I wanted to write a growth mindset story, where a little girl who lives in a diverse family – just Jess and her Gran – finds a way to make her own dreams come true.
I teamed up with the Canadian company, Educalme (www.educalme.com) to produce a Growth Mindset mindfulness online course, provided free with every book. Schools, classroom teachers and parents all have free access to the online course..
The book also features an original piano composition, “Jacaranda Snow,” by young award-winning Australian composer, Alexander Lau, for musicians everywhere to enjoy.
Jacaranda Snow is a modern Australian classic picture book. It includes history, urban legend, a main character who’s an Aussie battler; it champions diverse families and has an educational toolkit that’s free for everyone to use. And it comes with a beautiful original piano score. It’s a true Australian story, and I’m very proud to have partnered with award-winning illustrator, Helene Magisson, young award-winning composer, Alexander Lau, and Wombat Books.