“The more I write, the more I want to write,” said Natasha Peterson, a Carleton Place author who recently published her third children’s book in April called Harold the Homeless Hermit.
Published under her own label Polar Bear Press, Harold the Homeless Hermit is a story about a Canadian hermit crab that outgrows his shell and decides he wants a more extravagant place to call home rather than the typical old shell. After a long journey, Harold returns to his family realizing that regardless of how big or flashy a house is, home is wherever family is.
“I always thought hermit crabs are vulnerable because they have no shell and they have to move whenever they outgrow their current one. But in my research I learned that hermit crabs are really quite social and can live for 30 years, but they do get lonely and don’t do well on their own.”
Peterson said Harold the Homeless Hermit makes her reminisce about her own childhood.
“I grew up in an average household but I was nervous to invite friends over because I thought maybe they had more money or a nicer house than me,” Peterson said. “Looking back, I wish I would have invited more friends over because a home is about the people inside the house.”
Peterson said it’s important that children read books that make it easy to discuss things like bullying or feeling lonely. “Talking about things is easier for kids when it’s animals because then it doesn’t matter what you look like or what gender you are – it’s about a shared experience.”
Peterson has read her books at about 18 different schools in the area. “I love sharing lessons and reading to kids because they are so smart and they aren’t racist or judgmental – they’re just curious.”
Born in Toronto, Peterson grew up in Carleton Place and now lives in the town with her husband and two children ages 4 and 5. Peterson also works part-time at the popular Carleton Place restaurant The Good Food Company.
As a kid, Peterson was very shy so she used writing, mainly poetry, to express herself. Only a handful of adults were allowed to see her writing.
“I don’t know if shyness is something that ever really goes away, but now my writing comes from a place of enjoyment rather than shyness.”
Peterson still keeps in contact with her middle-school teacher named Joanne Little who encouraged her to continue writing. Little now travels the world and shares Peterson’s first book Gayle the Goose Goes Global with children wherever she goes.
“I call her my unofficial distributor,” Peterson laughed. Gayle the Goose Goes Global has been read by children in Santa Monica, Cuba; Honduras, Barbados; Alicante, Spain and; Kolkata, India just to name a few.
The dedication inscription in Harold the Homeless Hermit reads: Mrs. Joanne Little – Thank you for everything. “It was my way to let her know how thankful I am and how much I appreciate her.”
Peterson’s books are marketed for four to nine year-olds. Each story rhymes and follows the adventure of animals surviving and growing through personal struggles, like being different or growing up. The books are committed to teaching a moral revolving around the beauty of being unique.
“I find stories or poems that rhyme are so much easier to remember,” said Peterson. “I still pick stories with rhymes over any others.” Some of her inspirations include Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss and Jelly Belly by Dennis Lee.
Harold the Homeless Hermit and Peterson’s two other books, Gayle the Goose Goes Global and Nutty Neighbours, are available in Carleton Place at Apple Cheeks Consignment, Under Pressure Coffee House, Bonanza Kids, Owl Café and the Information Centre. They can also be purchased online at Amazon.ca. For a complete list of where the books are available, visit www.polarbearpress.com.
Along with having three books published, nine of Peterson’s poems are featured in various publications.
This article was first published in the June edition of Hometown News. Read more of the June issue online.