Poppy the porcupine has always wanted to make a friend, but her defensive nature prevents her. When a young tiger cub stumbles upon her one day in the rainforest, she reacts badly and scares him away.
Determined to change her ways, she sets out to find him, but little does she know that the tiger cub is about to have a problem of his own. In the face of danger, will Poppy find a way to save the day?
A Problem Shared – Why I Wrote a Children’s Book About Trust Issues
Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I’ve had a traumatic past. I’ve experienced abuse at the hands of others, and this has had a lasting effect on me. It has made it hard for me to trust people and has caused me to push them away. This is sadly a common issue for so many people of all ages, and thankfully there is support available in various forms, from professional therapy to just confiding in someone close.
However, it’s not always easy to open up to others and talk about trauma if it’s too raw or complex, especially if you’re a child – which is why I decided to try and write a children’s book on the subject. I figured this could be my way of helping children who may struggle to make friends or communicate with others due to trust issues and/or past traumas. I also thought that it would be a good tool for the adult that is trying to help the child, be it a parent, carer or counsellor, because the book can bring out issues in a subtle way and may encourage the child to talk.
It wasn’t long before I hit on an idea for the book’s story. I pondered what type of animal would best represent defensiveness, and two options occurred to be – the pufferfish and the porcupine. Both have a very visible strategy of protecting themselves when they feel threatened – the pufferfish puffs itself up to look larger, and the porcupine’s quills all stand up so that it looks spiky and dangerous. I quickly settled on a porcupine because, well, they’re cuter and the pufferfish has already made an appearance in Finding Nemo.
So the premise of the book was a porcupine that acts defensively due to her traumatic past. She struggles to make friends because she always scares them off. When she does the same with her new friend Rory the tiger cub, she decides enough is enough and she resolves to overcome her fear and make a friend. In a quite dramatic event, we see just how much she values his friendship, and Poppy herself realises how brave she is, despite the trauma that used to hold her back.
I hope that children enjoy the story in general, and if it helps just one reader in some way, even if it just serves as a starting point for them to open up, I will be one happy author. I am already working on another book set in the same rainforest, this time about a rhinoceros that has low self-confidence and body image issues, and hope to publish it by the end of December.
Thank you, Emma Sandford and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Emma Sandford is a Liverpool-born author and businesswoman based in Cheshire. For many years, she has wanted to write a children’s book that draws on her own experiences and helps young children overcome personal issues. One day, inspiration hit her: she realised that a porcupine has a very obvious defence mechanism where it shows its quills, stamps its feet and chatters with its teeth when feeling threatened.
Unfortunately, due to traumatic events in her life, Emma has also been defensive in situations where she didn’t need to be, and was frightened to let people get close to her. The Problem With Poppy is a fun way of teaching kids that while everybody has a natural defence mechanism, there is a time and a place to use it. By the end of the story, Poppy has learnt this valuable lesson and she makes a lifelong friend in the process.
Emma is planning on writing more books in the future that have similar important messages for youngsters.