‘I haven’t seen books like this:’ Peoria author publishes children’s collection focused on performance and bravery

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After growing up not seeing or reading many children’s books featuring characters that looked like her, a local author decided to write these stories herself, and she didn’t have to wait until she was an adult to read it. TO DO.

Alexus McNally’s children’s book series titled “The Ladybug Collection” includes three books, all following a little girl named Ladybug, a character based on McNally.

“Ladybug was a nickname given to me by my father. I was very energetic as a child. Like other children, I loved climbing trees, playing in the park and going on adventures. And he says that the way I flew from activity to activity reminded him of a ladybug,” McNally explained.

Author and Illustrator Alexus McNally

McNally is both the author and illustrator of all three books. She said she fell in love with storytelling and writing poetry at a young age. Her family didn’t have much and she said these were things she could do that wouldn’t cost her family anything.

“I had started writing children’s books when I was in middle school and high school,” she said. “My teachers set aside time in their curriculum for us to be creative and explore our passions. And in fact, two of the books I’ve published, ‘I’m Not Afraid’ and ‘The Tree Monster’, been written when I was in middle school and high school as part of classroom assignments, and so it really shows how important teachers are in guiding individuals to become the individuals we are meant to be.

The books were released in September and cover a wide range of themes, including spooky and paranormal elements in honor of the Halloween season.

“In ‘I’m Not Afraid,’ Ladybug finds herself in a predicament as her home is overrun by monsters and she hatches a plan to get rid of them, even using her vacuum cleaner to suck up a goblin. her closet. In “The Tree Monster”, Ladybug takes on the school bully. After he fills her and her teacher’s desk with worms, she comes up with a plan to make him scared on Halloween night,” McNally said.

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The cover of one of McNally’s books in “The Ladybug Collection”

However, despite not including any paranormal elements, McNally said the scariest book and his favorite from the “Ladybug Collection” is “Hair Scare”.

“Everyone knows what it’s like to wake up to a really bad hair day and the trauma and the horror and the jitters that can come when you’re not sure you can pull yourself together until the moment you gotta go,” McNally said.

“Hair Scare” shows Ladybug in a vulnerable moment. After playing in the sprinklers the night before, she wakes up with unruly hair just before she has to take the bus to school. Panicked, embarrassed and teased by her little brother, Ladybug’s mom arrives and saves the day just in time.

“African American women and girls with thick, frizzy, curly hair know best that water can really make or break a hairstyle…I’ve taken the time to share vocabulary and illustrate hair actions African Americans going, and I’ve even included some quick tips for taking care of frizzy, frizzy hair,” McNally said.

“Hair is so important to our identities. It’s so important to your self-esteem and to your confidence. And it’s so important for African American girls and African American boys to see their hair and appreciate it. their hair, especially from a very, very young age… and seeing it natural and not, you know, processed or something like that, and so it was important for me to show that in this book.

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The cover of one of McNally’s books in “The Ladybug Collection”

McNally said that one of the main reasons for wanting to create and publish these books was so that black boys and girls could see themselves and their experiences in literature, which McNally expressed that she didn’t see enough of in her childhood.

“When I was growing up, I would have loved to read a book about a girl taking down monsters that ran her house and how she would handle that situation,” she said. “I would have loved to see a story about a girl who looked like me and dealt with a class bully. I would have loved to be able to pick up a book and see someone with unruly, kinky, frizzy hair and have an appreciation for it and seeing other kids have an appreciation for it.

She said that while she sees an increased and concerted effort to create stories that portray black individuals, there’s a lot of catching up to do.

“We have so many decades, centuries to catch up in terms of literature and representation and so there has definitely been an increase, but I think we have so many more stories to tell.

As children and parents begin to pick up these books and get to know Ladybug, McNally hopes they laugh and understand what it means to be brave.

“The courage to get up and navigate, you know, those strangers, those monsters that are in his house. The courage to stand up to his class bully. The courage to get out of bed and face your bad hair day. And so, I hope my readers take away a sense of strength, a sense of humor, and some creativity to solve their problems.

The books are available for purchase now at Amazon.

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