Bertie the Very Blind Bat written by Joanne Moore, is an adorable story that celebrates differences and promotes inclusivity. Despite being blind, Bertie the Bat sees himself as a 'super-bat': nothing can stop him. Or can it? Bertie gets himself into a tricky situation and starts to give up on himself. Will he find his 'superpowers' and prove that he is a super-bat after all?
Joanne shared this book is intended to raise awareness of some of the challenges visually impaired people face every day. She also hopes this book encourages self-belief, inclusivity, and acceptance along with the understanding that our differences should be celebrated.
Bertie is Book one of The Bit Different Collection. The series aims to provide grown-ups (teachers/parents/medics) with stories to rely upon if they need to perhaps introduce children to a sensitive or medical issue. The positive stories, lovable characters, and beautiful illustrations would enable these issues to be discussed in a gentle and positive way.
A number of things inspired this story and all the stories in this collection.
"The first was the realization that I'd need to make my own daughter aware of my own medical issues without scaring her," Joanne explained. "I suffer from fibromyalgia and when my daughter was very little I knew I'd one day need to explain this to her. I wanted some stories to use to be able to introduce this. This inspired my initial writing which then led me to think that other parents may need to introduce their children to various issues surrounding differences. Bertie the Very Blind Bat was obviously born from the thought that many people suffer from physical disabilities."
Joanne has worked in various roles as a teacher, in pastoral care, and in working with SEN young adults. In these positions, she has seen first-hand the impact that prejudice, bullying, rejection, and a lack of understanding can have on young people. This experience added to her decision to put these books into the world.
I know how important it is that children are taught about differences and inclusivity from a young age to shape them into supportive, open-minded, and kind people later on. -Joanne Moore
"You will see from my photo images that I have 2 different colored eyes (heterochromia). As a child I hated his and I remember being called names as a child. Michelle my illustrator knew this and so she designed Bertie with 2 different colored eyes too (a lovely idea of hers)." Joanne continued.
"So, Bertie actually has 2 differences: he is blind and has heterochromia. In each of our stories, our main character has a difference that is highlighted in the story and then another one that the readers have to spot themselves." Joanne added, "Children at my school visits have loved this idea and they've loved seeing my eyes. So, in some way, my own difference has inspired this book too."
What was the hardest part of your journey in creating this book?
With a full-time job and a mom at home, Joanna admits that finding time to work on her writing was a big challenge. She dedicated herself to working in short chunks or during late-night spells so she could get it done.
But she admits the hardest part was actually what came after she published her book. As a self-published author, she has to handle the publishing and marketing efforts for her book. "I am having to learn so much about the processes and having to go at it alone, well, me and my Illustrator who happens to be one of my best friends," Joanne stated.
I'm still learning every day. Also, the fear of the book not being successful was great prior to release. -Joanne Moore
What was the most inspiring part of your journey in creating this book?
"Seeing the impact my book has had on children during school visits and from reviews, feedback, and messages I have received has been amazing, and overwhelming," Joanne admits. "The children during my school visits have picked out the messages of the book so well and hearing them identify why inclusion is important has been unreal."
Joanne added, "The nicest messages I have received have been from parents whose children have gone blind or are likely to have vision issues. The emotion and gratitude they've expressed after reading my book and finding comfort in it have been incredible."
Who helped or inspired you through your journey as an author?
Joanne explained, "I'm in a few social media groups with other indie authors who have been really inspiring. Seeing their own journies and their excitement when they have published has really kept me going and it's lovely to have a place where we can ask for help from other people who have been in my position."
"My 2 daughters have been my main inspiration throughout," she added. "They have been so excited, encouraging, and supportive. They're my biggest fans and my main drive for everything."