The story behind Becoming Brave by Jennie Cashman Wilson

Posted in Author/Illustrator Posts on Mon, 13 November at 9.35 am

In my new picture book, “Becoming Brave,” I share a deeply personal journey about my own childhood and the impact of the pressures to conform. The story revolves around my transformation from a free-spirited, creative child into someone who felt the constant need to be ‘good’ in order to please the adults around me. This shift ultimately led me to abandon my true desires in favour of approval. Meanwhile on the other side of the world there was a boy who had fallen in love with the trumpet and would do anything to keep playing. The turning point in my life came when I met that grownup boy Abram, a jazz musician who showed me what I’d been missing. Following his passing three years later, I realised that I had nothing to lose and gradually started embracing my fears. It took nearly seven years for me to truly understand the concept that it was okay to fail, which is when I penned ‘Becoming Brave.’

Writing a picture book with the messages of love, loss, fear and courage was not my initial goal. It happened serendipitously. My journey towards ‘Becoming Brave’ started when I embarked on a two-week clowning course in 2019, where I got to embody the magic of embracing failure and learned how I could transform it into something else. Following on from this experience I began working through ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron and that led me to scribbling down my initial ‘Becoming Brave’ story. My words remained hidden in one of my journals for months, but eventually, I found them again. The decision to share my story was driven by my desire to encourage people, especially young children, to have confidence in themselves and their creative potential, even in the face of setbacks.

I first shared my story when I had the privilege of speaking to a thousand primary school children at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, sharing my experiences and those of Abram as part of their annual Generation Ladywood project. This project was close to my heart, as I had watched a whole year group grow from reception to Year 6, which was incredibly special. I wanted children to understand that being brave involves acknowledging fear and the possibility of failure, while also reassuring them that they would be okay. I aimed to convey that failure is not something to fear but rather an opportunity for growth and creativity. The message of ‘No Fear!’ became our annual chant, emphasising the importance of courage in the face of adversity and I’m thrilled that I had the chance to share my story with them first. As the story evolved into a children’s picture book, it felt important to emphasise the process of finding courage from within rather than pushing away fear, hence the title ‘Becoming Brave’.

I’m so grateful to Little Tiger for their commitment to bringing this story to life, especially Nikki, Isabel and Emma who were so passionate, patient and collaborative in their approach. Tomekah’s illustrations are beautiful, and it I feel very lucky that she agreed to take on this story as her first picture book. Thank you and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it.

In my new picture book, “Becoming Brave,” I share a deeply personal journey about my own childhood and the impact of the pressures to conform. The story revolves around my transformation from a free-spirited, creative child into someone who felt the constant need to be ‘good’ in order to please the adults around me. This shift ultimately led me to abandon my true desires in favour of approval. Meanwhile on the other side of the world there was a boy who had fallen in love with the trumpet and would do anything to keep playing. The turning point in my life came when I met that grownup boy Abram, a jazz musician who showed me what I’d been missing. Following his passing three years later, I realised that I had nothing to lose and gradually started embracing my fears. It took nearly seven years for me to truly understand the concept that it was okay to fail, which is when I penned ‘Becoming Brave.’

Writing a picture book with the messages of love, loss, fear and courage was not my initial goal. It happened serendipitously. My journey towards ‘Becoming Brave’ started when I embarked on a two-week clowning course in 2019, where I got to embody the magic of embracing failure and learned how I could transform it into something else. Following on from this experience I began working through ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron and that led me to scribbling down my initial ‘Becoming Brave’ story. My words remained hidden in one of my journals for months, but eventually, I found them again. The decision to share my story was driven by my desire to encourage people, especially young children, to have confidence in themselves and their creative potential, even in the face of setbacks.

I first shared my story when I had the privilege of speaking to a thousand primary school children at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, sharing my experiences and those of Abram as part of their annual Generation Ladywood project. This project was close to my heart, as I had watched a whole year group grow from reception to Year 6, which was incredibly special. I wanted children to understand that being brave involves acknowledging fear and the possibility of failure, while also reassuring them that they would be okay. I aimed to convey that failure is not something to fear but rather an opportunity for growth and creativity. The message of ‘No Fear!’ became our annual chant, emphasising the importance of courage in the face of adversity and I’m thrilled that I had the chance to share my story with them first. As the story evolved into a children’s picture book, it felt important to emphasise the process of finding courage from within rather than pushing away fear, hence the title ‘Becoming Brave’.

I’m so grateful to Little Tiger for their commitment to bringing this story to life, especially Nikki, Isabel and Emma who were so passionate, patient and collaborative in their approach. Tomekah’s illustrations are beautiful, and it I feel very lucky that she agreed to take on this story as her first picture book. Thank you and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it.

RELATED BOOKS YOU MIGHT LIKE

Read more

Becoming Brave

Author: Jennie Cashman Wilson

Illustrator: Tomekah George