WHEN West Clare author Meadhbh Chambers completed working on her debut children’s book Rosie the Daisy there was certainly no shortage of little readers to give their reactions.
As well as being a mother of four, Meadhbh is the infant teacher at Kilmihil National School. “I’ve tried the book out on my own kids, and in the classroom, and my kids have 33 cousins as well so I’ve given it out to a few kids to get feedback and it’s been very good so far,” she tells us.
Launching this Friday in Kilrush Library, the book tells the tale of a daisy named Rosie, with Meadhbh explaining that as well as being a touching children’s story it is also a resource aimed at encouraging communication between children and trusted adults.
“The idea behind it is that it would be a resource for adults to open up conversations with children, about sharing their thoughts and worries and feelings. The story is about a daisy called Rosie and she didn’t really feel like she was as good as all the other daisies in the garden.”
“Then a little girl comes along and she starts making a daisy chain and Rosie is telling her not to pick her because she didn’t feel good enough to be part of the daisy chain.
“That is when all the other daisies find out how she is feeling. After they realised, they were able to help her and be a good friend to her. The idea is just very simple, to encourage children to tell someone when they’re not feeling so good.”
The publication also includes worksheets to further the conversation. Meadhbh explains, “There is a blank daisy and the children fill in the petals with the names of people that they could talk to, so they identify a responsible adult, friend or relation they could talk to about about anything they might have on their mind. The good stuff and not so good stuff.”
Meadhbh was inspired to write the book by her experiences over the years with children as both a teacher and a mother. “I’m a primary school teacher and I started off in special education.
From being around children, and I have four myself, I saw kids are harbouring thoughts and feelings and stuff that sometimes they only just tell you by accident.
“This book is to encourage them to speak up and know that they have lots of people to talk to. I think the idea just came from spending time with my own kids and from spending time with children in school.
“Also I think thought of the daisy because I think everyone can kind of relate to that, it’s a lovely image, seeing kids make daisy chains. And I love the way they react to the outside world like the close up at nigh-time and open up during the day.”
The initial idea came to her a number of years ago. “I actually wrote it four or five years ago, but then I left it. I did a course last year in training to be a mindfulness teacher and I ended up going back to the book and changing it a bit, and I’m glad I waited and did that.”
The book is illustrated by Dublin artist Bébhínn McCarthy. “She was very interested in portraying the emotions and feelings of the daisies without drawing faces, this was a challenge and I think she did great,” Meadhbh tells us.
The book has been published by Troubador and it will be launched on Friday, February 18 at 4pm in Kilrush Library.
So will there be a sequel for Rosie, or does Meadhbh have any other stories up her sleeve?
“I have some thoughts, but I’ll see how this goes first. Please god it will be positive and then I might get the courage to go ahead with a second one. We’ll see how it goes.” The book is available online at www.buythebook.ie.