Kimberly Poulton of Westport, Massachusetts published her children’s book Hello, Willow in October 2000. Along with vivid illustrations by Jennifer O’Keefe, it tells the story of a young girl, her favorite willow tree, and the adventures the two share. Poulton says, “Hello Willow is based on my childhood while I lived in Connecticut.  My family lived in an apartment building with a beautiful willow tree in the backyard.  I had many fond experiences with that tree and the story grew out of that.”

Hello Willow promotes imagination, but it is also an excellent resource to teach important values to a younger audience. Poulton says, “It is a very simple story that encourages imagination in a young child.  The illustrations wonderfully bring the text to life.  I think of it also as a great teaching tool for talking with children about the basics of living – be kind to others, play nicely, have good manners, have fun dreaming, simple games are the best, enjoy learning, clean up after yourself, and rest.  In this society where we continue to rush, tend to forget our manners, live for ourselves, think it’s okay to be loud and say whatever we want, Hello Willow offers an important message for children.”

Poulton has a background in primary education, and she and O’Keefe wrote a teacher’s guide for Hello Willow. Poulton has also spoken to older children about writing books. I asked her what advice she would give to this population, and she answered, “I think an active imagination definitely influences writing, as well as keen observation of your world.  This is what I often share with older children about writing. There are many interesting story lines that can be created just by observing others.  I encourage them to carry small notebooks so that when they are inspired by an idea, they can write it down.”

As she is a busy mom, Poulton is currently taking a small hiatus from writing, but she says, “I have many ideas and stories started.”