We chat to the author of a book that celebrates kisses!
Imagine how many kisses a child receives over the course of their childhood? Kiwi author Maura Finn's book celebrates exactly that. We chat to her about the book's higher purpose.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing children’s books...
Well, I’m originally from Wellington although I also lived down south for some time in my student years, and nowadays I’m based in the lovely city of Melbourne. I guess I was attracted to writing for children when my daughters were young and I was re-exposed to the world of picture books, and from that discovered just how moving and intelligent this art form can be. I found myself getting misty eyed with a few, or turning the words and concepts over in my head long after reading them, and then finally decided to have a go at writing them myself.
I think what I love most about writing picture books is the opportunity to play around with the sound and the rhythm of words, which is why I’m so attracted to rhyme. Rhyme is also a great way to develop a child’s confidence with reading as they learn to guess the upcoming words, and in doing so claim a bit of ownership over the reading process, which will hopefully implant a love of books to accompany them through life.
I think that good picture books are as much of a joy for adults as they are for a child. My eldest daughter didn’t sleep well for a number of years and boy were those years tough! Reading picture books was a welcome part of those long, foggy days. They allowed me to actually sit down, and to sometimes even knock back a few mouthfuls of cold tea, and they were something we could do together that we both genuinely enjoyed. It is such a precious and bonding experience having your little one snuggled up on your knee while you read.
How did Oh, So Many Kisses come to be?
The concept for ‘Kisses’ was partly formed by observing how attracted my own children were to pictures of other babies or toddlers, and partly by observing my own tendency to ply them with a constant stream of kisses. I knew the format and rhyme scheme needed to be simple enough to engage this busy young audience, but I also wanted the book to be entertaining and so I set about listing things that play a role in a child's early years – such as potty training, friendships, or separation anxiety – and used the concept of kisses as a uniting theme. I am delighted that it has now been re-released as a board book, perfect for the smallest hands to hold!
Tell us about your thoughts behind the illustrations? We love the diversity.
Thank you – diversity is certainly a very important part of the book and I am absolutely in awe of the warmth and emotion that Jenny manages to capture with her art. The central concept is to reflect a young child’s world and interests, and so by extension it was important to include a diverse range of people that children can recognise from their own communities and families. It was also the perfect opportunity to create something that could celebrate that unifying bond across cultures – the love we all have for our children. I am a great believer that many small gestures will eventually pool together to create meaningful change, and hope that our little book will in some way contribute to acceptance and kindness in the world.
Oh, So Many Kisses! By Maura Finn, illustrated by Jenny Cooper. Published by Scholastic New Zealand, RRP $14.99.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 54 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW