Today I am honored to share with you some words of wisdom from author Camille Matthews, author of Quincy Moves to the Desert. I asked her why she chose to use an animal to tackle the topics of moving and more in her book, instead of using a child as a character. This is what she had to say.
Why Choose a Horse to Reach Out to Children?
An interesting question I was asked recently was why I chose to use an animal to broach the topics in the Quincy the Horse books that follow the adventures of a red horse named Quincy. The theme of the series is that when you are facing something new and different that can even be scary and confusing, it is helpful to make a friend who will support you and then try new things that will help you master the challenge. I think the interviewer was wondering why I would choose an animal instead of a human child as the lead character in my series of children’s books.
The short answer to this question is that it was actually a case of the characters choosing me more than my choosing the characters. I am an animal person and longtime equestrian. At the time I had six horses, two dogs and a cat. It was probably inevitable that I would write about animals. While my particular situation influenced my choice, I see two important issues here I would like to address.
The first issue is the importance of animals in children’s lives. While many children have a pet in their life such as a dog or cat, horses are a special case. Only a very few families have the resources and facilities to have horses in their lives day to day; and many equine activities for children require a commitment of time and money. Animals teach unconditional love and the importance of responsible caretaking. Horses bring joy, humor and wisdom to life and I wanted to share that with young readers who might not have contact with horses.
The second issue has to do with feelings and empathy. Children and horses share many characteristics. Horses are deeply emotional and transparent in their feelings. I thought a description of Quincy’s feelings, especially some of his difficult feelings like being mad and jealous would give readers a way to understand some of their own emotions as well as permission to feel them. Most children feel empathy and love for animals. I felt that this pathway would help me reach out to children who would identify with Quincy’s experiences and learn from the way he faces challenges like loss and change. He trusts a new friend, relies on his loving owner and ultimately learns new things. Through this process he grows stronger and more able to cope. Horses really experience these things through their herd and owners so the process, even with horses, is an authentic portrayal.
Contact Info for Camille Matthews, Author Quincy the Horse Books