Initial Idea for a Children’s Gymnastics Book…
Bendy Wendy is the name of a coaching tool that many of us coaches use to demonstrate gymnastics skills. Bendy Wendy is a flat plastic gymnast with pins at every joint so that you can demonstrate to kids the shapes their bodies should be making. I am not sure where the name came from however it has always amused me.
Jumping Jack however took a long time to be agreed upon with many other names considered… Hans Stand – Roley Noley and Quick Nick to name a few. It was a bit like naming your child whilst you are pregnant the more people you asked the harder it became and eventually we settled on Jumping Jack!
The actual story and children’s book idea came from watching an episode of The Apprentice where the task was to create a book specifically for children. I sat there with my husband and was astounded at how hard they found it to think of a story that would work. I found myself wanting to shout at the screen and couldn’t believe how much they struggled. I do find this the case with every episode of the show though – I always think I could do a better job! However I did go to sleep that evening and think to myself I am sure I could do that…. This thought stayed with me and I kept returning to the idea that writing a children’s gymnastics books is something I must do.
Having had success with our instructional books it felt daunting jumping into the new genre of Children’s Story Books. When one formula works you wonder if you should move away and create another. When the first story board was written and it started to come together there were lots of moments where it was nearly abandoned. I found the best place to find courage was in other people, asking them for guidance and even sometimes motivation. I was very lucky to ask the right person to get me motivated initially and soon had produced a start that I knew I would eventually be proud of. This gave me the confidence to then trial it and share it with more people to obtain the feedback I needed to create a quality product.
Gymnastics has been a huge part of my life, it was my childhood hobby and is now my business. Gymnastics taught me to be courageous, disciplined, persistent, patient, resilient, ambitious and most of all told me I could do things I never thought possible. This is the reason the sport is so amazing, how lucky was I to learn all of these things in such a fun way doing something I really love. I would never have been the person I am today if I hadn’t gone along to my first gymnastics class, enjoyed it and been nurtured by great coaches to ensure I persisted with the sport. This quickly became the story and is hopefully the first in a series of books that will provide encouragement and show you how much you can learn and grow from being involved in a sport.
In my head I had a vision of how the book would look, I met with Anthony the illustrator and shared my initial thoughts with him. He helped to develop and finalise the names of all the characters prior to bringing them to life. After some time I returned to his office and was acquainted with all the characters except ‘Gemma Gym’. I guess this was always going to be the hardest one to please the client with! With a bit of tweaking we had six characters and a promise that Gemma Gym would be easy now that he was confident that I liked the style of the characters he had created. This left me to then finalise the story line and get him all the text he needed. Once he had been given a few weeks the book started to take shape and was ready to review and tweek.
During the creative process with Anthony we have often been distracted by my lovely four year old son. His highlights of going to see Antony in his offices at Magic Box Media was the water dispenser, his R2-D2 and of course the swivel office chairs! He will be going to school this year and I keep promising Anthony that I will be able to have meetings that aren’t either late in the evening or accompanied by a little pickle!
The finished Product…
Bendy Wendy and Jumping Jack Join Gymnastics took 5 months to create from start to finish and we are extremely proud to be releasing it.
This book is inspired by real life class experiences to which we can all relate, adults and children alike. Two young, apprehensive gymnasts step foot into what would appear to be a daunting new experience; their first gymnastics lesson, only to find that all is not as overwhelming as it would first appear. In no time at all Bendy Wendy and Jumping Jack make new friendships, gain confidence and learn new skills leaving them excited to return again.
I am very grateful to everyone that has helped to create this book – thank you – you know who you are…. I would also like to say that as so many people have helped me along the way that if anyone reading this needs help and believes my experience in this journey may help them – please ask! I can’t promise to always be able to help but will most definitely try!
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