Sonia Bestulic’s debut picture book is a celebration of the wonder of music. Here Sonia gives us some insight into her own background, developing the story, and what she hopes it will will achieve. Thanks for sharing Sonia.
Books have been an integral part of my life ever since I can remember. I have an early memory as a three year old, being very attached to a cloth book, that was doll shaped as Little Red Riding Hood, and the apron section of the doll were the cloth pages that flipped through the story. I also recall the excitement of being read to, and I often played the role of a teacher, reading to and ‘teaching’ my younger sister and younger cousins during our play sessions.
The home bookshelf was a favourite part of the house, and any house I visited really! I was just fascinated with what was on the shelf. As for bookshops; going to a bookshop was a ‘kid in a candy store’ experience for me, and to be honest it still is! As a child, I considered books like dear friends; they kept me company, made me smile and allowed me to share experiences with them.
Writing has also, always been a very integral part of my life, enjoying it in all its various forms. In my younger years (besides my violin playing) writing poetry was also a favourite pastime, both in English and Italian (yes, I can speak, read and write Italian). So, opportunities such as poetry competitions that came up in school were a welcome opportunity; and did come with prize winning including first place for one of my Italian poems. From childhood and throughout periods of my adulthood I have also relished in reflective writing and journaling, finding it such a powerful medium for expression and creation.
I have always had a love for language, and a passion for helping others succeed, and so the combination of the two led me to pursue a professional career as a Speech Pathologist. It has been about 20 years now, and my work has been predominantly with children who have difficulties with their speech, oral language and literacy. It has been an absolute privilege to make a positive difference to the lives of children and their families; being both deeply humbling and deeply amazing.
My work as a Speech Pathologist with children also entwines my love of children’s books, as it heavily incorporates children’s books as a tool to build and foster oral language development, and getting children ready to read, spell and write. Working so dynamically with books and with children, I relish in sharing the experience and wonders a book can create in young (and older) people, and so exercising my writing within a children’s picture book genre seemed a natural pathway of evolution.
When I consider my influences in children’s writing; I have always enjoyed the cleverness of rhyming books, so Dr Seuss books were and still are a favourite. There is such an element of fun that can be created through the rhyme and rhythm of text. I have also very much appreciated the wonderful works of Mem Fox and the timeless quality to her books – such an inspiration!
The writing in my debut picture book Reece Give Me Some Peace! is certainly crafted in a way that the text itself is expertly informed at an auditory level, stimulating children through its rhythm, rhyme, repetition and alliteration; encouraging an experience of positive engagement and curiosity. Being musically themed, it also presents a lovely way to introduce and celebrate various musical instruments and the joy they can bring. The book is all encompassing of my interests and passions from my personal and professional life; and also strongly reflects one of my personal mantras – keep learning through play!