Chasing a dream

Rudy Norman
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Children’s book by local author will help children

Judy Hamilton had a dream to write Children’s Literature.
“I’m really just a kid at heart, myself, you know – I love children’s books, and everything about them. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed,” she said.

Jaden Butt was so happy to purchase one of Librarian Judy’s books, “The Newfoundland Groundhog … A Day to Remember”.

So when she was sitting home one day and the thought came to her about a story of a Groundhog and his best friend, a bear, then it almost seemed like a natural thing that it would eventually turn into the thing she love so much. What she didn’t know, though, was how long it was going to take her to reach her dream.

The year was 1995 – Hamilton was a stay-at-home mother of three young children.

“I would be home all day, and looking after the kids, and I guess I had time to think and wonder about stuff, and be creative with them.”

Hamilton says her favourite thing to do was to help her children use their imaginations and go beyond what was in front of them, and into a world that they could create and explore on their own.

One day, while she was playing with her youngest son, Tyler, she says they both began making up a story using their own creative thoughts and ideas.

“We just started talking and made up a story,” she said. “The kids had two puppets we used to play with a lot – one was a Groundhog and one was a Bear. So we came up with a story based on this bear and groundhog.”

Hamilton says at that time she decided to write the story down, not knowing what it may turn into some day.

After some fine-tuning and editing, she says she ended up with a story that she felt had potential to be a great children’s book.

“I worked on it a bit more over the while after that, and eventually I decided to send it off to a few publishing companies to see what they thought.”

Hamilton said the word she got back from publishers was that the children’s book market was already flooded, and it was a difficult one to break into. She decided to hang on to her story, though.

“Every now and then I’d take it out and change it or something,” she said. However, it was never much more than a personal project and a dream.

Fast-forward to 2013, and Hamilton is now a Librarian at Springdale Public Library where she’s still passing on her love for books to children the community. Her Groundhog story was still constantly in the back of her mind, as she poured over other author’s works every day.

Then the Library hosted an author visit with Newfoundland and Labrador author, Earl Pilgrim.

“Earl Pilgrim came and did a book ready at the Library one day,” she said. “I think that was really the thing that pushed me over the edge, because he was so nice, and so encouraging.”

The two started talking about writing, and Hamilton mentioned to the novelist that she had a dream of publishing her children’s book from all those years before. What Pilgrim said to her, changed her outlook on everything.

“He said ‘if you’re going to do it, then just go do it,’” she said. “You’re never going to get anything done by talking about it – you have to pick yourself up and go do it.”

It was then that the solution became apparent. Since traditional publishers weren’t an option, the new author would try the world of self-publishing – an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds. Hamilton went home, dug out her book, and got to work.

She contacted one of her daughter’s friends, Kristen Wiseman, who is a talented artist. With Hamilton’s coaching and direction, Wiseman illustrated the project.

The next stop was the local printing shop – Green Bay Digital.

“They did all the layout and printing work,” she said, “and gave me my books at the end of the day to sell.”

Finally, after nearly two decades, Judy Hamilton held the finished product of her children’s book in her hands – “The Newfoundland Groundhog … A Day to Remember.”

In addition to achieving her dream of publishing, Judy says she also wanted to give back with her book project.

“A dollar from the sale of every book is going to go to United Kid’s Foundation,” she said. The organization is run by Roy and Sherry Clarke, originally of Springdale, and sponsors a school in the Dominican Republic, educating underprivileged children.

“I spoke with them and told them I wanted to help in some way,” she said. The Clarkes suggested that funds could be used to go towards building a small Library for the children in the school.

Hamilton agreed, and is donating a portion of her proceeds to build Benjamin’s Spanish Library – in memory of her infant nephew, Benjamin, who passed away two years ago.

As for what the future holds, Hamilton says her love for books and children keeps her going, and she can’t see herself doing anything else.

“The thing I love most about dealing with children is that you don’t have to answer to them,” she said. “They don’t judge, and they don’t have expectations – you can truly be yourself.”

If you’d like a copy of The Newfoundland Groundhog book, drop by the Library or local retail outlets in Springdale.

Organizations: Springdale Public Library, Dominican Republic, Spanish Library

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Springdale, United Kid

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