Keeping kids calm on the rough seas of life



In a year that has been marked with devastating bushfires and a global pandemic, it’s no wonder many Australian kids are experiencing anxiety. 

Local mum and teacher Clare Flory saw the problem firsthand, inspiring her to write a charming children’s book with an important message.

It was while up late, caring for her newborn son that the idea for Samson C. Turtle and the Deep Breath first came to Clare Flory.

A former primary and secondary school teacher, Clare was on maternity leave from her job as a special aide to children with disabilities and a particular thought kept plaguing her.

“A lot of the kids that I worked with in that area had major anxiety issues that their parents didn’t really know how to deal with,” she tells North Shore Living.

“When I went off on leave, I thought ‘Oh well, wouldn’t it be great if I could write something that would target what seems to be quite a big issue for a lot of families.’”

Fascinated by Australia’s endangered green sea turtle, the Waitara local came up with the story of Samson C. Turtle – an ‘old, wise creature that wanders the ocean helping other animals with their problems’. 

“I chose a turtle because their character suits that wise and calm, sort of guru type,” Clare explains.

“A lot of the animals that Samson comes into contact with have a stressful situation that he helps them breathe through.

“So, throughout the story, there’s a breathing technique that is repeated as he approaches each creature and encourages them to just stop, take a breath and count to three.

“It’s also full of beautiful and colourful pictures done by a New Zealand digital artist in blues and greens. I thought the colours of the ocean were a good setting to tie into the calming theme of the book.”

Her book was quickly snapped up by children’s publisher Ethicool, incredibly selling over 100 copies in the first hour.

She says she’s since been approached by a number of schools and preschools, interested in including the book as part of their social and wellbeing programs to address post-COVID anxiety among children.

Clare, herself, has been no stranger to the anxieties that have marred 2020, having to flee her Snowy Mountains accommodation as the Black Summer bushfires raged last year and raising an infant through lockdown. 

“I have to admit, I’ve thought a few times, ‘My gosh, I’ve brought this little baby into this world that’s just seemed to have gone mad in the last year,” she says.

“I think this is a book that will certainly be able to help kids deal with quite an, I guess, adult situation. 

“Encouraging parents and teachers to talk with children about how the pandemic is impacting people’s lives and how to deal with stressful situations in general.”

Samson C. Turtle and the Deep Breath is available online at Ethicool Books for $22 plus shipping. It is recommended for children aged 0 – 6-years old.

Stephanie Aikins, Journalist, North Shore Living Magazine

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