Is there anything more challenging than fussy eater toddlers?
It’s a theme that unites parents from every corner of the globe. It’s also a subject that Samantha Cotterill covers in her new children’s book: ‘Nope! Never! Not for Me!’
If you’re wondering how to deal with fussy eaters, her book is the perfect family read, with beautiful illustrations sure to resonate. It’s also written sympathetically for children on the Autism spectrum or those with sensory issues, as part of her thoughtful ‘Little Senses’ collection.
We caught up with Samantha Cotterill to discuss her popular children’s book...
Congratulations on your new book Nope. Never. Not for Me! What inspired you to write it?Thank you so much! The Little Senses Book series was created out of a need for something I wish I had as a child . A need for books without any qualitative adjectives or labels that made them easily accessible to everyone.
The inspiration to create Little Senses came mostly out of my own experiences as a child growing up with Asperger’s, as well as those close to me who view the world similarly. It was important to create stories that were both entertaining and educational, while ultimately giving the reader a feeling of being “heard” and understood.
Nope. Never. Not for Me! focusses on the introduction and exploration of one food, which is unlike many other children’s books that instead center around a variety of food within one story.
Under the tent of subtle humour, this story takes a young child on a journey of food discovery with the guidance of a calm and encouraging parent, ultimately letting go of the conventional ways we have often become accustomed to when dealing with a "picky eater".
There is no stress. No pressure. Just freedom for the child to realistically react, respond, and explore.
Your 'Little Senses' collection taps into everyday anxities of young children. With wellbeing so high on the agenda, how can reading help families?Seeing a character just like oneself takes away feelings of estrangement, and replaces it with the sentiment of belongingness.
The positive impact it would have on a reader's own emotional well being of feeling understood in a world that can often seem so foreign and confusing is something I've worked hard to provide for my readers.
To see your own way of looking at the world mirrored back creates a positive sense of inclusion and empowerment as the child sees characters successfully handle similar situations.
Do you have a favourite childhood book?
I’m originally from Lincoln, England and grew up reading Ladybird books, Mr. Men and Rupert Bear. I have to say, hands down, my most memorable book was the Mr. Men Cookbook (originally published in the late 70’s).
The illustrative comic strip approach was so captivating and approachable, appealing very much to my visual learning sensibilities. I haven’t looked at this publication in years, and seeing it now is absolutely mind blowing in regards to the obvious influences evident in my illustrative style today.
Your other title The Beach is Loud was shortlisted in Dolly Parton's Book List of the Year. What did that mean to you?
Being chosen for the 2020 reading list was such an emotional and impactful moment of my career. To be part of a program that has, to date, donated 140 million books to families across the world regardless of income means the world to me.One of the most incredible outcomes of Imagination Library has been the heart-warming letters I've received from care-givers, relatives, and kids themselves.
One such parent wrote "...as we got to reading my son sat still, paid attention, didn't blurt out, and at one point looked at me with wide, excited eyes because the boy in the book was almost an exact replica of our last trip to the beach".
The fact that this boy was able to recognize himself, and see the main character "win" is huge and why I wrote Little Senses. Add to that the catalyst for a conversation between parent/sibling/and child, and you have an outcome of understanding and appreciation for how these kids often view the world.
Do you have a favourite Munchy Play toddler plate?
Oh my goodness, these kids' plates are just brilliant. There’s a plate for everyone, and my childhood of staged teddy bear parties could have been even more spectacular with the Tea Party plate.
My eldest son, whose readying for University, would have lived for the Choo-Choo plate in his train obsessed toddler years. I know for certain that plate would have extended beyond the home and accompanied us for meals on the road, in restaurants and family get togethers.
You live in NYC - can you recommend a family-friend restaurant?
We’ve been living in Upstate New York for about 13 years now, and dare I admit we have not ventured into the city much since planting our roots here?
With empty nesting becoming the reality in a couple of years, I’m sure my husband and I will be making up for those absent years by popping on the train to go explore the city as much as we can!
Nope! Never! Not for Me!’ is available from Trigger Publishing, from £3.33. We’ve teamed up with them to offer Munchy Play customers 10% off the book - simply use “munchyplay!” at checkout, at triggerpublishing.com.
Enjoy reading this post? Then check out our top 10 tips for coping with a fussy eater child.