Virtual Book Tour: Didi LeMay’s A Winter Solstice Celebration

by Ahalya on November 19, 2010

Winter. It’s my favourite time of the year. All two days of it (which is how long winter lasts in Bombay). Unfortunately, it never snows here. But, I have grown up reading books in which kids throw snowballs at each other, and make snowmen, while being snugly wrapped up in the most delicious winterwear. And which book should I get to review but A Winter Solstice Celebration, and the kid on the cover is snugly wrapped up in the most delicious winterwear!

winterI enjoyed reading this book for kids. What I liked most is the fresh layout of the book. Blue pages and white text, and heavily illustrated. It is a big book (but very light), and most kids would love the idea of reading a book that is bigger than the ones the others are reading. But, let’s get to the story already. A little girl walks into a forest and walks into a meeting convened by the animals who live there. They do not appreciate their forest being taken down, tree by tree, just to ‘celebrate’ the winter solstice.

After hearing their point of view, and making a few friends along the way, she returns to the village and talks to the elders. I won’t tell you if they listen to her and change tradition. But, yes, it’s a happy blue book for children. I love the fact that it tells kids that they can change some of our more illogical traditions.

I wrote to Didi, who lives in Toronto, and had founded a Children’s Theatre Group in Europe. Here’s what she said about the book:

1.    Why do you think adults are so apathetic about the condition of our planet? How can we change this ourselves?

I don’t think that adults are apathetic about the condition of our planet. I think that we were raised in such an abundance of resources and we were never taught to be frugal. There was an attitude of “it” – natural resources- will always be there. Adults do care. We are changing. It is a bit more difficult for us adults as we have a lifetime of wasteful habits to turn around. I’m happy to say that a lot of the adults do see the importance and are also doing their bit to help the environment.

2. In your experience, what do children feel when they first learn about the problems faced by our planet? Hopeful that they can change things, overwhelmed by the responsibility, or worried that they won’t be able to change a thing?

Children are very smart and see what is going on around them. When I speak with children about the environment, they tell me that they see the severity of the situation. I get the sense that they have an inner strength that can move their generation forward.  I always get a sense of hope and optimism, even though they know there is a lot of work to be done.

3.    What prompted you to write this story, and how did the characters come into your mind?

I became very interested in the environment, when years ago, I noticed the small river I had to cross. Everyday, it had different coloured foam. When I asked about what it was, people very callously dismissed it and told me not to worry about it. I think the callousness of people worried me as much as what was happening to the river.  I started thinking about the animals and how we did things to their environment. That’s how I started to think about their story. It became very important to me to tell the story of the environment through their eyes, so that we humans can learn what the consequences of our actions are doing to nature.
The characters developed over a period of time. I would go for walks, in the woods and let my thoughts wander. I would have a glimpse of an animal and start thinking about them. Gradually, a personality developed.

4. What off-line activities help you popularise the book?

I enjoy doing book readings and after the reading, sitting and having a discussion with the children.

5. Will you be writing more books on this topic?

Yes, I am working on two books about the environment at the moment. One is the second part of “A Winter Solstice Celebration” – “ A Summer Solstice Celebration” In this book, I am approaching the  pollution of the oceans.
In the second book, I approach the subject of our resource that is so important to life itself – water.

6. What advice do you give writers who wish to write for children?

Be in tune with children. Know what they are interested in, know what concerns them. Also, make very sure that they do not take down to them and do not underestimate the children’s intelligence.

7. It seemed to me that the book would also make a great play to be performed in school! Was this an idea you had in mind when you set out to write the book?

It is very interesting that you see that. Originally, this story was written as a play called “ A Christmas Tree Forest”. “ A Winter Solstice Celebration” is based on my play. When I lived in The Netherlands I had a theatre group for children and they preformed this play at schools and seniors’ homes.

I leave you with proof of the pudding 🙂


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DiDi LeMay November 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

Thank you for the opportunity to showcase my book.
I’m glad to have sent some winter your way!

Hope to meet a lot of new readers.


YvonneW November 22, 2010 at 12:21 am

Looks like a great book!


Aditya November 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm

haha snow!


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