Friday, November 22, 2013

Snuggle Wuggle Wee: A Story Behind The Story and The Launch This Weekend

I just want to share with you a lovely project that I worked on together with two other moms from the organization called LATCH (Lactation, Attachment, Training, Counseling, Help) which helps moms become breastfeeding peer counselors (to help other moms with their breastfeeding), only one among its many projects.

It all started when a book project was broached. Ever since I joined LATCH, that was one of the projects where I really wanted to contribute. When Jenny Ong, one of the co-founders of LATCH, told me that she already had an outline to work with, I was elated. Read Jenny's story here.

I had just come from the Little Lit Festival arranged by the National Book Development Board and I was itching to work on a children's book.

Below is my original picture of Clara, the protagonist.

This is my Pages (by Fifty Three) artwork of Clara. 

My inspiration for Clara is my spunky little daughter, Clea, who just turned three last October. Even though she's the youngest, she's obsessed with being an "ate." She likes taking the lead and she can command a roomful of cousins (both older and younger) to "please keep quiet!" I could just imagine what she would be like if she had been the eldest and I was just expecting my son.

The initial story was under five hundred words (something that I picked up from the Little Lit Festival) and it was pretty straightforward, using simple words that I knew my own kids could identify with. Based on Jenny's outline, the story follows Clara as she anticipates the arrival of her parents and her younger, newly born brother, Paolo, who are all coming from the hospital. It deals with what it's like for a little girl to become an older sibling and how she also explores her own birth story. The story focuses on the closeness of the family, with breastfeeding as one of the ways that a family bonds (yes, it takes the whole family, it's not just about mother and child). I showed it to both Jenny and Buding (Aquino-Dee), the President of LATCH for their thoughts. Buding challenged me to make it a fun book, full of silly rhymes and alliterations that would capture the imagination of children. That was how the title came about: Snuggle Wuggle Wee. It's a nonsense phrase that is meant to capture that joyful embrace in a family.

That was how our book collaboration became complete. Jenny was the voice of experience and advocacy, bringing to the project the urgency of choosing the right books that would help her eldest daughter become an "ate" in the context of a breastfeeding family. Buding was the mover-and-shaker, if I may say so! She's LATCH's cheerleader and she cheered me on to really refine the book. I was the word-crafter. :-)  Together, the story of Snuggle Wuggle Wee moved forward and tomorrow it will finally be available for sale!

Of course, it took more than just us co-authors to make Snuggle Wuggle Wee a reality. It took the entire LATCH organization. What a wonderful group and what a wonderful mix of personalities! Moms can make it happen. That's all I can say.

This shows the evolution of Clara. This is the book cover of Snuggle Wuggle Wee.

I really did take so much pleasure from composing the story, really listening not just to the narrative but to the musicality of the words. Bryan Delfin, the illustrator, is really fantastic! He's the fourth storyteller, actually. He took the manuscript and created magical, cinematic images that really stay with the reader. He took the similes from the book and created lovely illustrations that pop up from the page and take you away to a river ("I can see his lips move like a fish from the side") or make a color burst in your imagination ("red as a tomato" -- here, he cleverly leaves out the color red from the lovely tomato illustration so that you can see the color in your mind and associate it with baby Paolo's color). Snuggle Wuggle Wee celebrates family and I hope it helps families, especially those with young children or those expecting an addition in the family,  get even closer.

This is an open invitation for you to come over to the Global Pinoy Bazaar at the Rockwell Tent this weekend so you can get yourself (and your loved ones) a Snuggle Wuggle Wee book. It's a perfect Christmas gift too! It's only Php 250 and proceeds will help fund LATCH projects (including those that have to do with Typhoon Yolanda --- LATCH members are already helping by providing breastfeeding support to affected mothers as well as organizing efforts to get donated breast milk to affected babies).

Below is a trailer of the book:

And here are directions to LATCH's booth at the Global Pinoy Bazaar this November 24 to 25, 2013:

This is where you'll find the LATCH booth at Global Pinoy Bazaar. 
See you there!

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