So, what made me write this little story? On a request from my friend, Maria Eletta Baroni, three years ago her idea of creating a picture book. It didn’t realise until I got inspiration from the streets of Liverpool. The beautiful, colourful Umbrella Project transformed me, thinking about the smiles on children’s faces and the sounds that are made when you open an umbrella. I could visualise people rushing around in the rain. Thanks to Maria Eletta she was able to put my words in pictures.
Children are lovely adults. On a train to Liverpool a small group of primary school children, with their teacher, sat next to me. The spontaneous conversation of their short life burst out, spilling over me all sorts of emotions. Unbelievably open and innocent, opening their hearts to a complete stranger, me, explaining their stress and their future plans. I felt very privileged.
The important lesson was to listen, not criticise or make moral statements, the children felt at ease with me and I just encouraged their enthusiasm. A wonderful experience for a few stops on a train.
This is what I wanted for Little Natty. For family, friends, to listen to the child and observe how they interpret the world around them. Often, adults are consumed in their problems, sadly blocking the many human reactions around them. As a teacher I have learnt to isolate my inner corners and focus on who I have in front of me.
Little Natty touches the outside world with her interactions with adults and makes us think of the precious moments we lose by not listening to them. Children grow up very quickly and we sometimes miss out on their emotions.