By Dale Woodard on December 10, 2020.
Writing her first book, Charity Yoder had some big shoes to fill.
Four of them, in fact.
Evidently, she filled them ably as the local author’s publishing debut, “The Elephant’s Shoes” earned an Honourable Mention in the Children’s Five-And-Under category for the Royal Dragonfly Book Award, a book contest held in the U.S.
“I’m OK with that. It’s my first book ever and getting an honourable mention, I was really excited about seeing that. I was really quite overwhelmed, to be honest,” said Yoder, who submitted her application for the Royal Dragonfly Book Award in October.
Written last year and completed just before the COVID-19 pandemic, “The Elephant’s Shoes” is a children’s story about the value of decision making and living with those decisions as a young elephant finds a perfect pair of shoes, only to find out they’re bipeds, leaving her other two feet looking for warmth.
She soon finds another “blazing” pair and vows never to take them off, but soon wonders what other footwear would feel like and puts the shoes on the shelf.
She finds some sneakers and boots that aren’t to her liking before meeting another young pachyderm who has her “blazing” shoes.
“Then the elephant learns to cope with the decisions she makes even though they might not at times have the best outcomes,” said Yoder. “She regrets getting rid of the shoes that she really loved and then at the end of the story when she meets the other elephant who has her shoes there’s someone she can make a good connection and a nice friendship with as opposed to looking for materialistic sorts of things.”
The reviews for “The Elephant’s Shoes” have been glowing.
“I had five completely random people who I had never met in my life review my book,” said Yoder. “In my head I was thinking friends and family have to say nice things because they know me. But when five completely random people come back and four of them give it five stars and one of them gave it four stars, you’re always your own worst critic. So I looked at it (wondering) if people were actually going to like this. When that came back, I actually cried because I thought ‘Wow, people actually like this.’ The reviews I’ve been getting back have been pretty phenomenal. It’s very humbling and wonderful.”
The book has also struck a chord with its target audience, as Yoder found out just before the pandemic hit.
“(I’ve been) getting people saying their six-month-old baby is absolutely engaged in the book,” said Yoder. “When I did a couple of readings before we all got locked down there were boys that were shooting their hands up (saying) ÔI know the answer to this.’ They were totally engaged in it and they all got the message.”
There are other subtleties to “The Elephant’s Shoes.”
“If you mouth ‘Elephant Shoes’ to someone it looks like you’re saying ‘I love you,’ and it messes them up,” said Yoder. “The title itself was ‘Just remember. I love you.’ So there are lots of little hidden gemstones.”
Yoder has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember.
“I would take my books into the tree tops when I was a kid and nobody could bug me when I was in the trees except for the birds. I would read and constantly disappear into different worlds. My beginning of writing was poetry. I’ve got books of them.”
Her grandfather, Wayne Yoder, was another inspiration.
“He always had a rhyme and always had a poem,” said Yoder. “There actually is an idea for a book based around one of his poems that is sitting in the back of my mind that will hopefully come out right after this next one. He would randomly come up with a poem or any sort of limerick. Even if you were just out fishing, he would come up with a lyric.”
With “The Elephant’s Shoes” receiving Honourable Mention status, the sequel is underway.
“I’ve got the manuscript written up for it. It’s just a matter of getting the funds to put that together,” said Yoder. “It’s going to be based more around the other elephant in the story that we meet at the end of this one. He gets his own story this time. It’s definitely on the heels of this book.”
For purchasing and other information on “The Elephant’s Shoes” visit Yoder’s website at http://www.charityyoder.ca.
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