It’s National Youth Week. ‘The message I wanted to get out there, is that stereotyping and discrimination is wrong. Everyone is different in their own way and it’s ok to be different.’ We hear from Brooke Blaney (pictured here) who wrote the children’s book ‘The One that was Different’. ‘My lead character April has orange hair. Some of the other kids tease her but everything is turned around when April discovers that so many of the kids are different. You just don’t always see it.
‘I knew what I wanted to Inquire into for our Grade 6 Exhibition at Highton Primary. I wanted to find out more about stereotyping. We also had to choose a way to take action. Initially, I thought I could write an article for the popular UK magazine MC1R which is all about Red Heads. MC1R is known as the red hair gene. But then that’s not the group of people that need convincing, so I went with a children’s book to pass on the message that stereotyping and discrimination shouldn’t happen.
‘I came up with the idea of using fingerprints for my characters because they are all different, they express individuality and uniqueness. The text is a mixture of story and speech bubbles.
Brooke’s Mum adds ‘When the girls were young I took them to story time at the Belmont Library. Chris who ran it, had orange hair like Brooke’s and said to me one day ‘make sure you tell Brooke every day that her hair is beautiful’ and I did. Now Brooke is very proud of her long red hair. We took Brooke’s book up to the Library recently (10 years after story time) and the librarians were very impressed.’
‘One of the staff at the Primary School still reminds me of the story Brooke wrote when she was a 4 year old kinder kid. She’d been inspired to write because her elder sister in Grade 2 had written a lovely story about a magic treehouse. I scribed the story for her and it all came out in one sitting.’
‘The one that was different’ is Brooke’s own story. There was no adult input, so the single, simple message comes through. It’s been read at Belmont High to the Year 7s, Brooke’s peers, so the momentum has picked up and the staff can see the value of the message even for older students.’
Brooke concludes ‘I’d love to become an author. The reaction at the Exhibition presentation night was wonderful, one teacher cried tears of joy and parents were saying I should get the book published. I’d love to get the message out there to educate children so I’d love to see it published. If anyone knows a publisher, please get in touch.’
Story and photo: Jacqui Bennett
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