Best-selling Montreal author values lessons over sales
Published Wednesday, December 26, 2012 1:20PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 26, 2012 7:33PM EST
MONTREAL--Montreal author Melanie Watt never planned to be an author, much less an award-winning one that has sold over two million books translated into 23 languages.
The author of the Scaredy Squirrel children’s books became an author by accident.
Her books were the result of a colouring project assigned 10 years ago in a graphic design course at the Universite de Quebec a Montreal.
“I invented a character named Leon le chameleon and when we presented our projects, my teacher Michele Lemieux, who is an author as well, suggested I send it to a publisher. I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to go anywhere but I translated it and sent it in and it got published,” said Watt.
She now receives stacks of mail praising her work and has fans around the world in love with her skittish little Scaredy Squirrel character, who teaches valuable lessons on how to cope with fear.
“I was just in Mexico a few weeks ago meeting my Spanish language fans and it was really amazing to see the little kids and how the topic of fear can relate to different people in different countries. It’s a lot of fun,” she said.
One Montreal children’s book store owner said that kids are enraptured by the books.
“I see kids picking them up, sitting on the floor reading them, sitting on their stomach, just flipping through the pages, laughing out loud, it's hilarious,” said Hania Brooks of Kidlink Books.
Watt said that the success and acclaim is rewarding but what she values above all is the fact that children are getting a positive message from her work.
“What I really enjoy most is that parents and kids are enjoying the books together and they're laughing and the kids are questioning and asking, ‘why is he afraid of all this stuff? That makes no sense!’" said Watts.
"That’s perfect. It’s what I want to hear. I want kids questioning, and asking: what is worth freaking out about and what is not?”
Melanie Watt, who pens the Scaredy Squirrel series, is happy that her character is teaching children how to cope with fear.