Nessa Morris, Author
Caroline Lee, Illustrator
uTales eBook, May 2012, Fiction
Suitable for: Ages 3 and up
Themes: Rainbows, Blind, Visual Impairment, Friendship
Opening: “A rainbow,” said Betsy. “It’s so beautiful. “Where? I want to hold it,” said Amelia, who is blind. Betsy sees a rainbow and describes it to her friend, Amelia. Amelia wants to touch the rainbow, but Betsy tells her that no one can touch a rainbow because it is just colors. But, through a surprising twist, Amelia teaches Betsy that you can touch, smell, taste and feel colors in a way Betsy has always taken for granted.
Why I like this book: Nessa Morris has written a charming book with an inspiring message about a visually impaired girl who teaches her friend how to “see” in her world. I love this theme! Nessa’s book will certainly encourage children to think and see in a new way. Very clever ending. Kudos to the author. As you can tell from the cover, Caroline Lee’s illustrations are a feast for the eyes. Each illustration is simply beautiful and draws the child into the story.
Nessa Morris is the director of a library that serves people with visual impairments. Before becoming a library director, one of Nessa’s favorite jobs was being a children’s librarian. As the “Storytime Princess,” she enjoyed introducing puppetry to children. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. You can reach her by clicking on her website.
What prompted you to write about a visually-impaired child?
[N] I work with people who have visual impairments. I also write stories for children. Combining the two was natural. After I realized that there weren’t too many book with visually-impaired children as main characters, I just knew I had to write this story.
Did the rainbow idea come first, or a child who was blind?
[N] The idea of a color-concept story with a visually-impaired main character appealed to me, because the two don’t necessarily seem to go together. The rainbow came about because it’s the ultimate way to combine colors and yet it’s also difficult to describe on a physical basis since it has no substance. I tried to think of how I would describe it in detail. The story just flowed from there.
What was your experience like working with uTales?
[N] I found out about uTales through a member of my critique group. Sandra Hershenson, who had published her story Annie & Me. After seeing her story, I felt that Reaching for Rainbows would be a good fit with uTales. I signed up for a free trial, and read several stories. Once I was sure that uTales was the route I wanted to take, I pitched the idea to the uTales collaboration group on Facebook. Caroline Lee was interested in illustrating the story. She showed me a few of her illustrations, and we agreed to work together. Caroline did some rough sketches of her ideas. After we agreed that the story was on the right track, she colored the illustrations, and Reaching for Rainbows truly began to take shape. Caroline’s illustrations made the rainbow come to life in a tangible way. Also, the rainbow belonged to both Amelia and Betsy. I loved the idea that no one can reach a rainbow, but everyone can find a way to hold a rainbow in their heart. After a bit of minor tweaking, the story was submitted to the uTales editorial panel. It was accepted and published within a few days after submission.
How has the experienced helped you as an author? Would you recommend other authors publish on uTales?
As a new author, it’s great to see my work come to life. The best part is being able to read the story with my three-year-old daughter. She loves flipping through and “reading” the colors to me. Publishing on uTales is a much quicker process than with a traditional publisher. You have the benefit of working one-on-one with an illustrator and the two of you set the pace. Creating a book with uTales also means that you have greater artistic control over your work than you would have with a traditional publisher. Since uTales uses an editorial panel, the finished book will be a quality product. I would definitely recommend that other authors take advantage of the uTales free trial period, review the books and decide whether they feel that uTales publishing is right for them.
About uTales eBooks: Click here to learn more about uTales children’s ebooks and to sign up for a free trial. uTales was initiated by Swedish businessman, Nils von Heijne. Emma Dryden, of drydenbks, oversees the Editorial Quality uTales Panel. Authors and Illustrators are from all over the world and form a unique community.