A Wimbledon author says ‘reading is magic’ as his new children’s book on overcoming anxiety is set to be released this World Book Day.
Kim Hillyard is a writer-illustrator who previously worked as a music journalist for ten years.
Towards the end of her journalism career, Kim began working more seriously on her stories, as she claims it took her two years of writing and posting before she signed with Ladybird Books in 2018.
Kim, 35, has always had a love for storytelling, as she says she has been writing stories and poems since she was little.
Kim’s third picture book, Gretel the Wonder Mammoth, will be released on World Book Day.
The mum-of-two says the book is about ‘overcoming anxiety’ and gives children the opportunity to understand what anxiety can feel like – through the story of the last woolly mammoth on earth.
Kim said: “I knew I wanted to write a story about anxiety.
“The mental health conversation has advanced so much.
“There’s a lot more openness, but I wonder how many children (or adults) really understand what anxiety is and what someone means when they say they experience it? .
“Anxiety is more than just a feeling of sadness and worry.
“It changes the way you see the world around you and the way you see yourself.
“I wanted to convey the idea of feeling trapped, which led me to a woolly mammoth trapped in ice.
“Once I had the concept, writing the story happened quickly.
“I try to balance a lot of fun and nonsense with an important message, like talking to someone if you’re feeling upset or anxious.”
Kim told the Wimbledon Times that the reading is important because it can be “magical”.
She added: “When we read, we can fly.
“We can travel through time and space or become someone or something else entirely.
“Reading helps us understand ourselves and the world around us.”
Kim says writing a children’s picture book is like “solving a puzzle” because each book has its own “rhythm”, with few words, but so much to say.
After reading every day with her three-year-old daughter, she says her toddler has a current “penchant” for stories involving witches.
The creativity behind Kim’s stories is inspired by the “wonderful, open and creative” minds of children.
She said: “If only more of us could remember what it’s like to see everything through such fascinated, non-judgmental eyes – the world would be a better place.”
Kim says World Book Day is a “shining” reminder of the “universal power of stories,” and her new book, Gretel the Wonder Mammoth, is set to be released on the enlightening day.
She added, “More than 100 countries around the world celebrate World Book Day.
“As adults, we should do everything possible to ensure that children everywhere have access to books.
“My third picture book is being released this year on World Book Day and I may have to dress up as a woolly mammoth to celebrate.
“My daughters aren’t in school yet, so there won’t be any last-minute costume rush for us.
“Although right now my newborn can easily be mistaken for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
Gretel the Wonder Mammoth talks about what anxiety means, what it can feel like, and what you can do if you or someone you love is feeling anxious.