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Author: avery

The origin of A Horse Called Now – A Guest Post by Ruth Doyle

Ruth Doyle’s latest picture book, A Horse Called Now, is one of our wonderful new releases this month. Featuring illustrations by Alexandra Finkeldey, it tells the story of Now, a wise and empathetic horse who helps calm the other farmyard animals when a scary storm approaches. In today’s post, Ruth herself shares what inspired her to write the book and what she hopes readers take away from it.

I’m lucky to be able to share my life with three special horses and it was my big horse, Winnie, who inspired me to write A Horse Called Now. This book is also the culmination of many years of interest in mindfulness and mental health, as well as my understanding of and experience with the healing power of both horses and the natural world.

Winnie, the horse who inspired A Horse Called Now

While training as a nurse, I worked in a psychiatric hospital and, being deeply affected by the patients’ stories, I started to study mindfulness and, more recently, animal therapy as tools for mental respite and healing.

The world is facing a global mental health emergency and children are particularly affected by this. The arrival and dominance of the internet and mobile phones, the pressures created by social media and our increasing disconnection from the natural world, have all contributed to this crisis. I started thinking that it could be helpful to write a story about living in the now as a method of soothing anxiety that might be accessible to children.

Enter, A Horse Called Now. I began writing the story after watching my horse grazing in her field. She was strong, gentle, and present in the Now…the perfect name for a horse who would embody the power of living in the moment!

I knew she was a good listener, immersed in the beauty of the natural world. I imagined what her sensory awareness might be. Horses use emotional responses from other animals and humans as information (Did you know they can hear heartbeats from four feet away?). All around her the wild rabbits were scurrying, crows were squawking, and our pet sheep were noisily “baaing.” I wondered what she thought of their frantic levels of activity…

I imagined that Now would want to calm the ‘boom-boom heartbeats’ of her animal friends by reminding them to relax into the moment. The animals around Now allow their fears to escalate and work themselves into a frenzy! She listens sympathetically but reminds the others that the things they’re worrying about might never happen. She offers a soothing refrain to bring them back into the present, “At this moment, all is well.” Since writing the book, I often find myself using this mantra if I start to worry.

Understanding that feelings pass is another mindfulness technique that can help reassure young people in moments of fear or panic. Life is ever-changing and acknowledging that everything will eventually pass, even the scariest moments, can be a soothing and mindful practice. Now reminds us, “Nothing lasts forever” and that “even the wildest storms will always end.”

I hope that young readers will feel empowered after reading this story. Empowered to know that their fears are valid and that everyone is afraid sometimes, but also to believe that they can find a way to manage some of those fears. Now teaches the other animals about being aware of their breathing, of letting “feelings come and then go.” This idea of acknowledging, but not attaching, to our anxieties can be a useful tool for gaining a sense of control in moments of fear.

My horses have helped me through grief, trauma and displacement. I’m always amazed when they choose to stand or walk with me, rather than roam the field or continue grazing. So many animals have enriched my life and left huge pawprints on my heart, but this book is dedicated to my own little herd who have taught me so much and inspired a story that I hope will leave readers big and small feeling more peaceful.

Ruth’s other two horses, Diesel and Wilson

As the Crow Flies: 571 New Bookstores and Counting!

Nosy Crow has soared through our very first Children’s Institute!

It was an inspiring few days in Milwaukee as I connected with new and old fans of Nosy Crow books and soaked up indie knowledge from all corners of the US. I had the chance to connect with booksellers on trends, new ideas, and of course, the books that they are most excited about. (ONE had quite a fanbase before I even stepped foot off the plane…)

While at the conference, I met the new owners of two Boston-area indies: Kate Keisling of The Purple Couch in North Andover, and Lauren Tiedemann and Jillian Hartline of Book Ends in Winchester.

The Purple Couch will be an entirely new shop to the area, with a grand opening planned for later this year. You’ll find everything from board books to serious nonfiction on their shelves, and you can take an early sneak peek at their staff picks for the summer here.

The future home of The Purple Couch in Andover, MA.

Tiedemann and Hartline are longtime booksellers embarking into the world of owning an independent bookstore after many years of experience in the field. They are taking over Book Ends after its years of care by the previous owners, and revamping the store, applying their bookseller expertise to management, ordering, and events—including a kick-off adult book fair on June 25! (Here is the event page for all of us who dearly miss the days of the Scholastic Book Fair.). Also, important to note, Lauren and I both came to the opening reception dressed as Pippi Longstocking and this is how the conversation started.

Book Ends in Winchester, MA.

In his opening keynote, Printz-award-winning author Daniel Nayeri offered a truly awe-some statistic: in 2022 alone, the US has seen the opening of 571 new independent bookstores. Can you imagine?! There are 571 towns and cities across the country with a new space for building community, pre-ordering that fall book that you SIMPLY CANNOT WAIT FOR, and finding stories that transplant us from our own worlds into the worlds of our neighbors (both real and fictional, of course…)

As an independent press, we’ve caught the contagious excitement that’s emanating from the booming indie scene. Just in our microcosm of a city, we can see this downtown, in the ‘burbs’, and everywhere in between. Last year, Porter Square Books: Boston Edition opened along the waterfront in the Seaport District, where it shares a space with the famous Grub Street writers’ workshop and boasts an inviting event space around the Calderwood Writers’ Stage.

Cross the Charles into downtown and dodge Freedom Trail tour groups to make your way to Beacon Hill Books, in the historic neighborhood for which it’s named. The combination bookshop-café will celebrate its first birthday this September, as it continues to offer Bostonians a good read with a spot of Afternoon Tea.

Just up the street, we’ll soon have a space to find great books alongside great (furry) company at A Sanctuary Café, equal parts cat café and independent bookshop set to open this fall. Sanctuary will also connect with the local community through its book donation system: for every book purchased, they will donate another to a student in the Boston Public Schools.

And that’s not the end of it! This past year has also seen the expansion of the legendary Brookline Booksmith into a next-door property that’s perfect for displaying staff picks and hosting events—one being a performance by Nosy Crow’s own Fred Small, author of Everything Possible/Todo lo Posible, to ring in Pride Month. You can get a signed copy here while supplies last.

A Little Bookish in Ooltewah, TN.

As you might guess from the figure of 571, the indie boom has not been a phenomenon confined to Beantown: Abby Dan and Betsy Haberl of Booked in Evanston, Illinois, opened their doors for the first time less than 24 hours before journeying to Milwaukee for the conference. Miranda Atkins of A Little Bookish in Ooltewah, Tennessee was attending as the owner of her mobile bookshop after recently expanding into a second location, this one with four fewer wheels and one more street address.

And these are just the few that I had the pleasure to meet. Boston indies were up two for 2022, set to be three for 2023, and who knows what the number is when you add up all the new shops from here to the west coast? And isn’t that something to crow about?!

Avery Cook is the Marketing Associate at Nosy Crow and the proud owner of a Jeff Goldblum shower curtain.