Author of two beautiful picture books, Karen Hendriks, says she ‘ran away from school to become a children’s author’.
I first met Karen Hendriks at the Sunshine Writers Retreat in 2019. She’s like a sea breeze – with that ability to calm, invigorate and motivate you all at once. Since then, two of her beautiful stories, Feathers and Go Away, Foxy Foxy have been published, with a third due for release in 2021.
Modest, gentle and open, Karen Hendriks has the most divine way with words, sweeping the reader away for a time into a world of their imagining.
My writing journey is moving along just like the sea tides to all sorts of magical places.
~ Karen Hendriks ~
It is hard not to be inspired by Karen Hendriks.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for your stories?
The inspiration for my stories really does come from anywhere. I know that sounds corny but it’s true. It can be a word, image, flashback, song or even a catalogue in the mailbox.
Go Away, Foxy Foxy was inspired by my own childhood and from being a teacher in a past life.
My own children and facing a life-threatening illness inspired Feathers. And feathers find me every day.
What are your tips for students who don’t know what to write when they’re faced with a blank page?
The dreaded blank page is scary. I think once you are told what you have to write about it kills the joy.
For children, it’s important they write about something they love and they know. Often reading will help inspire them. I think stories naturally grow from play.
Write your story and don’t worry about the punctuation and all the other stuff.
Get the idea out first and remember it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It’s your idea.
Which of your books holds a special place in your heart? Why?
All of my books hold a special place in my heart because each one has a piece of me inside it.
Go Away, Foxy Foxy has my childhood and teaching memories. I didn’t give up on this story and always believed in it.
‘Feathers’ is my heart story.
This book is super special to me because it came from my own heartache and wanting to bring comfort and hope to children. I believe that the glass is always half full and not half empty and my books showcase this.
You can only choose one ~ which of your characters is your favourite and why?
This is so difficult to answer. At the moment I would choose the girl in Home, my picture book coming out in Refugee Week in 2021. She shows us that we can triumph with hope, love, strength and resilience.
When you think about children reading your books, how does this make you feel? What would you like people to gain from reading your stories?
Thinking about children reading my books gives me the biggest smile in the whole wide world because a child has chosen my story to read.
I would like people to gain a love of story and to feel empowered when they read my stories.
Picture books can be for any age.
You are never too old for a picture book. The ones that you love as a child, you will still love as an adult.
Fill up on books and you’ll never be bored.
Find out more about Karen Hendriks, and follow her on her writing journey, through her Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and through her publishers (Daisy Lane Publishing and Empowered Resources). Karen is also available for school visits if you would like to get in touch with her through her website.
As a teacher, I am totally with Karen when she says that picture books are not only for young children. In fact, I advocate for them to be used in all year levels to introduce a wide variety of topics and subject areas. Contact me to find out more about how I can help you either write amazing teaching notes for your books, or teach upper primary grades effectively with picture books as your ‘hook’.