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Imperfections Are What Make You Unique

Emma Sandford Author Interview

Hooray for Heidi! follows a young turtle who makes a new friend on her way to see the animal games; once there, she learns the value of teamwork and that everyone has different strengths. What was the inspiration for your story?

I am very aware that we live in an age where children are becoming increasingly self-conscious in terms of their appearance, physique and abilities. I was therefore inspired to write an entertaining story that ultimately teaches children that it is okay to be good at some things and not so good at others. Nobody can be good at everything, and in fact your imperfections are what make you unique.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your character’s life?

Due to adverse experiences in my childhood, I had a habit (and still do) of being self-critical, for example, comparing my abilities to other children, what I was good at and not so good at etc. I wanted to refer to this with characters in the book as it’s important for everyone, especially children, to realise their strengths and weaknesses, how to learn from them, how to accept yourself and others and to be kind and show compassion to people no matter how similar or different they are.

 What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?

I wanted to make sure that this book had more excitement in it with it being the final book in the Sumatran Trilogy, and I hope I have achieved that. It was important to me to have the book flow well and for the theme to remain as close to the first two books, The Problem with Poppy and What’s Troubling Tawny?, as possible. I also wanted to make it funny and a little more light-hearted than the first two books but still with meaningful messages that would help children handle their emotions and feelings.

What is the next book or series you will be writing, and when can your readers look for it to be out?

Hooray for Heidi! is the final book in the Sumatran Trilogy, but I do have plans for more books in the future. I am co-writing one with another author at the moment, but I can’t reveal any details yet. Watch this space!

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It’s the Sumatran Games and Heidi the turtle is excited! On her way to the event, she makes friends with a jolly elephant called José. As the pair watch the sports, Heidi realises that a turtle could never compete – and her smile soon turns to a frown.

Will José be able to cheer Heidi up, and can the two animals find a way to join in the fun?

Hooray for Heidi! (The Sumatran Trilogy)

Heidi, the Sumatran turtle, is excited for the day ahead. Today is the first day of the Sumatran Games, and this is the first time she gets to attend. Heidi moves as quickly as she can, given her short turtle legs, but she falls behind the other animals. Finally, a kind, friendly elephant named Jose stops and asks if she needs help. When she explains she is trying to get to the games, Jose picks her up and carries her the rest of the way. Once at the games, the two new friends watch the events, and Heidi becomes sad watching all the things she can not do. Eventually, Jose also grows sad because of Heidi’s morose attitude. Once Heidi realizes her lousy attitude has upset her new friends, she comes up with a plan to make them both feel better about the skills they do possess. While her plan doesn’t work out exactly as they hoped, they learn a valuable lesson about teamwork.

Hooray for Heidi! written by Emma Sandford and illustrated by Olena Osadcha is a beautiful picture book about teamwork and appreciating the unique skills that everyone has. Not everyone in life is strong, fast, or flexible, but that does not mean that they do not have value. This children’s book highlights that kids often feel self-conscious when watching others that have better skills or abilities than themselves. It can be challenging to overcome those feelings and feel valuable.

Emma has written this fantastic book showing that everyone can contribute and be a valued member of the team. With a focus on teamwork, kids will learn how helping others and working together brings its own rewards, even if it is not the trophy they were after. The other focus in this whimsical picture book is friendship. For example, an elephant and a turtle become great friends despite being so different from one another. This is an excellent example for young children to look past the physical differences in each other and value people for who they are inside.

Hooray for Heidi! is a beautifully written picture book that teaches children the value of friendship and teamwork. This would be a wonderful book for preschool and kindergarten classrooms to help kids learn how to work together to achieve a common goal. There is also the message that sometimes things do not go as planned, which is okay too!

Pages: 30 | ASIN : B0BFNT32T1

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The Sumatran Trilogy

Emma Sandford
Emma Sandford Author Interview

What’s Troubling Tawny? follows a shy young rhino that has trouble making friends and meets a bird that helps her find her confidence and make friends. What was the inspiration for your story?

I wanted to write a story about the Sumatran rhino because, tragically, there are fewer than 80 of these beautiful creatures left. I thought it would be interesting to have a rhino who lacks confidence and struggles with her own body image and insecurities. I also wanted to get across important messages for children in relation to body positivity and how to overcome shyness, which a lot of children and even adults struggle with.

How did you decide on the location for the backdrop to this story?

All three books in the Sumatran Trilogy are set in the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia. Originally, whilst I was thinking of locations for the books, I wanted it to be in a rainforest. My research led me to Sumatra, which is one of the most important areas of intact rainforest in the world. It is also the last place where tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans still roam together.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from What’s Troubling Tawny?

There are lots of things I would hope readers will take from the story such as the importance of being yourself, being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone, as well as the environmental messages which are equally important. Perhaps the main message is how vital friendship and kindness are because without Tallulah’s encouragement, Tawny would not have approached Rusty.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently working on the final book in the Sumatran Trilogy, Hooray for Heidi!, which is due to be released in June 2022.

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Tawny longs to make friends with another rhino, but her shyness holds her back. When she meets a hornbill called Tallulah, she is surprised to learn that she has a lot in common with the beautiful bird. Will Tawny find a way to overcome her shyness, and can Tallulah help her find a companion?

What’s Troubling Tawny?

Tawny is a Sumatran rhino and is having trouble making friends. She loves playing in the mud, but it is not as much fun without someone to roll around in the muck with. As she feels lonely, she hears a squawk, and it is a rhinoceros hornbill named Tallulah. Tawny loves the look of Tallulah’s horn and asks if she can help her have a colorful shiny horn too. Tallulah helps her, and suddenly Tawny has more confidence. Shortly after, she hears another rhino playing in the mud, and Tallulah encourages her to go and make friends with them. Tawny is very nervous, but Tallulah is there to help her make this big step.

What’s Troubling Tawny? is the second book in Emma Sandford’s Sumatran Trilogy. This remarkable children’s book deals with the challenging topic of making friends and being confident in who you are. Being shy is an emotion that children often face, and it is hard for them to see a way to get past that shyness.

Tawny thinks no one will like her for who she is and that her new rhino friend only likes her because of her shiny horn that is different. This stunning picture book shows children that it is important to find things you both enjoy doing together when making new friends. Making new friends is hard for some children, and this heartwarming story shows how it is ok to be afraid but to take a chance. Together Tawny and Rusty discover all the things they enjoy doing that are the same.

What’s Troubling Tawny? is an engaging and vibrant picture book that children will love and relate to. Parents and teachers will find this through-provoking children’s book a great addition to their library to help kids work through the complex emotions of making friends.

Pages: 30 | ISBN : 1916896812

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The Sumatran Trilogy

Emma Sandford
Emma Sandford Author Interview

The Problem with Poppy is about a porcupine that has trouble making friends and overcomes that fear. What was the inspiration for your story?

Like Poppy, I have been defensive where I didn’t need to be out of fear as I had experienced trauma which made it difficult for me to trust people and make friends. I wanted to write a book that drew on my own personal experiences but in a child appropriate way to show children that if they too have an issue with making friends, they need to overcome a fear and trauma or are defensive, they are able to overcome this. Everybody has a natural defence system, it’s a survival skill, but there is a time and a place to use it and as Poppy learns in the story, being defensive when she doesn’t need to be can have upsetting consequences. However, Poppy makes the brave step to address the issue and makes a lifelong friend in the process. I think people can relate to Poppy and learn that being brave and addressing your issues can make your life so much better and happier.

What inspired you to write a series about the rainforest?

The rainforest is so important as it enables so many different species of animals to live there. Sadly, with deforestation and poaching occuring around the world, I wanted to write a book which teaches children the importance of protecting these animals and the rainforest as well as educating them about how to deal with their own issues. I also wanted to help protect the animals and rainforests in any way I could and as a result of book sales from The Problem with Poppy and the next two books in the Sumatran Trilogy I donate £1 per book sale to Rainforest Trust UK which is then used to save the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, where the book is set. The Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where tigers, porcupines, orangutans and elephants co-exist in the wild so I wanted to educate children on this amazing part of the world and what we can all do to preserve it.

How did collaboration go between you and the illustrator for the book?

My illustrator, Olena Osadcha, is based in Ukraine. It has been a pleasure working with her for this book. Olena is also illustrating the next two books in the Sumatran Trilogy, What’s Troubling Tawny? and Hooray for Heidi! Olena shares the same passion that I do in relation to the story and feels that the book has some important messages for children. Olena and I have worked very closely in getting the illustrations as perfect as possible to make them fun, cute and captivating for the reader.

I see there are two more books in the series set for publication, are they going to build on The Problem with Poppy or are they their own stories?

The next two books in the Sumatran Trilogy have some similarities to The Problem with Poppy but also some differences. They will both be set in the Sumatran rainforest but they will introduce new characters into each story while at the same time the characters from the previous book making cameo appearances! The next two books will, again, touch on important messages for children such as self confidence, self esteem, self worth, working as a team, trying your best, taking part in activities, along with reinforcing the importance of saving the rainforest and the animals that inhabit them.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website |

WINNER: Maincrest Media Award 2021 for Picture Books

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?

The Problem with Poppy
 is an award-winning picture book aimed at children aged 4-8 and is the debut by British author Emma Sandford. Illustrated by Ukrainian artist Olena Osadcha.

“The Problem with Poppy by Emma Sandford is a perfect combination of fun and learning that any little kid will love.” – Readers’ Favorite ★★★★★

The book is the first in a series called The Sumatran Trilogy. The second book, What’s Troubling Tawny?, will be published in December 2021 and the third book, Hooray for Heidi!, will be published in June 2022.

£1 per paperback book sale donated to Rainforest Trust UK.

The Problem with Poppy (The Sumatran Trilogy) 

The Problem with Poppy (The Sumatran Trilogy) by [Emma Sandford, Olena Osadcha]

It is hard being a porcupine. Poppy is a young porcupine that scares easily due to being mistreated in the past. Now when someone new approaches her she sticks out her quills, stomping her feet, and hissing at them. It makes it very hard to find new friends, and Poppy is very lonely because of this. One day a young tiger tried to make friends with Poppy and she scared him away, instantly feeling bad. Today was going to be different though, today Poppy was going to go find the little tiger and apologize. After finding the young tiger disaster strikes and Poppy must overcome her fears to save her new friend.

I found the development of Poppy’s character appealing. A timid little porcupine that reacts with fear to all new interactions, turns into a character that is strong and loyal. Poppy will be relatable to young children that are often afraid of new people and situations. Poppy shows them that it is okay to be afraid while still doing new things.

When looking for a children’s book that has a meaningful message, captivating illustrations, and a unique story line look no further. Emma Sandford’s picture book The Problem with Poppy hits all the right marks for children and the young at heart. The reading level is ideal for kindergarteners and those that are on an early elementary reading level.

Pages: 17 | ASIN: B095XF3RK5

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