By Emily Evans-Miller
Every month we feature a title we think really shines. This month’s featured title is Swamp Diva by Brenda Farrington, available now!
Why We Love It
Swamp Diva is a tale like no other. From its unique illustration style courtesy of Penny Weber to the confidence that the bikini-clad reptilian protagonist exudes, we can’t help but love this adorably quirky book.
Author Brenda Farrington shared the inspiration and creative process behind her beloved Swamp Diva. Check out her thoughts below!
Creating Swamp Diva
By Brenda Farrington
The character of Swamp Diva and her story was created twelve years ago. The wonderful illustrator, Penny Weber, portrayed her perfectly. I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a long road to get here. This is my first children’s book and I would like to share some thoughts with you about how the story began and the moral lesson that I hope to get across.
The original story was much longer. The writing experience was new and exciting, and I soon learned it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Through the years, there have been countless re-writes and edits and three different versions of the story. I laid the story aside many times and started on new ones but I knew if I ever published a book, Swamp Diva would be the first one because she is my favorite character and is near and dear to my heart. I could hear the story in rhyme from the beginning. The rhyming experience was challenging but was so much fun.
In recent months, my mother, whose health was failing, asked repeatedly what I was going to do with my story. I took this as a sign that I should complete it once and for all, so I did. In a month’s time, I completed my final version of the story that I was proud of—the short one.
Why an alligator? Being from Louisiana, I see many books about alligators. More often than not, the alligator is usually trying to devour anything it can get its’ teeth around, so I wanted to create a character that was fun, not quite as scary and different. Plus, I’ve never come across a female alligator in a swamp, especially one that wears jewelry.
Even though there were many changes, the moral of the story remained the same—to show children how important it is to love people for who they are and not for what they have.
I hope I’ve accomplished this through my simple story of a female alligator that wears a red two-piece bathing suit and a strand of pearls. As much as she loves to look beautiful, she soon realizes this is not what real beauty is all about. Her days begin and end with thoughts on how to acquire the latest fashions, jewels, and gadgets that she thinks she needs to feel worthy, beautiful, and accepted by those around her.
One day she will take her mother’s place as queen of the swamp. To a teen gator, a queenly image is one of riches and wealth, an image that adds more pressure on Swamp Diva to look the part. She’s afraid that if she doesn’t wear jewels, she won’t be living up to her friends’ expectations of her as their queen—in short, peer pressure.
In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying beautiful items, but don’t let them define who you are. We may love objects, but they won’t love us back. True friends don’t want to be impressed—they want true friendships. In a materialistic world it’s often easy to lose sight of our true value when clutter is clouding our view. We are so much more than flashy jewelry and designer jeans.
Swamp Diva’s confidence and self-worth grew when she realized she made a difference in the lives of the wildlife in the swamp. Momma Gator led by example with quiet strength and inner beauty which helped Swamp Diva discover her own.
I feel children should be reminded often about how beautiful they truly are and not to ever compare themselves to others.
About Brenda Farrington
When not doting on her happy pets that expect to be doted on, Brenda Farrington loves to write. She also loves to read, and her magazine addiction has gotten way out of hand. Feeling that sometimes alligators get a bad wrap, she wanted children to see these stealthy- eyed creatures in a more positive light. So, one humid night down a Louisiana back road, Swamp Diva was born and the fun began. Brenda wants to encourage children to read, create, explore, show kindness to others and to appreciate all animals, even the ones with long, sharp teeth!