Local author, Eleanor Geoghegan debuts her first children’s picture book written for children with sensory difficulties but suitable for all. ‘Popper Monster’s Magical Rainbow Lunch Adventure’ teaches the colours of the Rainbow in a fun and educational way. Eleanor is a local primary school teacher and mother of 2 autistic children. They were the inspiration behind the book so it was important for Eleanor to launch this April to coincide with World Autism Awareness Month. Eleanor wanted to dedicate a moment in time to her children, Ava who is in 1st class and Jack who is in preschool while also providing a magical and engaging way for all children, including children with additional needs to learn first concepts and new ideas. The book is aimed at preschool/ Junior Infant aged children and all ages for children with additional needs.
The main character, the Popper Monster is a unique and loveable character who uses a magic stick to invent silly and funny monster foods and today, the colours of the Rainbow happen to be for lunch. Popper Monster must fill a grumbling, mumbling, monster belly in this first adventure with some help from friends along the way. Eleanor’s daughter had the nickname of Popper from the time she was a tiny baby and the name for the main character grew from that. Eleanor chose to print the book onto a silk paper stock to enhance the texture of the paper and each of the 36 colour pages are full of vibrant visuals. It was beautifully illustrated by talented French illustrator Helen Crevel who perfectly brought Eleanor’s vision to life.
When Eleanor wrote the story, she wanted to include some important elements and these are represented in the educational icons on the back cover of the book. Eleanor used alot of repetition and rhyming patterns as she knew through firsthand experience that this style helped her children to learn. So the book is full of this lyrical phrasing with a sensory flow in the language to enhance engagement and morphemical learning when read aloud. This also feeds into the musical learning ability of children, a learning ability which is often a great strength in children with additional needs helping them to understand the world around them. Eleanor also wrote it to encourage children to connect the noises and sensations that their own tummies make when they are hungry to the Popper Monster’s hungry belly. Eleanor wanted to write a very interactive story and so the reader is able to ask what Rainbow colour will be eaten next and this allows children to engage in the world of imaginative play. An area universally loved by all children but an area that children on the Autism spectrum can find difficult to tap into. Eleanor’s daughter really enjoyed engaging with Popper Monster and the magic stick and was able to connect to her own pretend play skills in a comfortable and fun way. The Time order explored with the First and Next of the Rainbow colours also helps with sequencing, an important skill that all children need to learn. Finally, Eleanor also wanted to write a book that adults would enjoy sharing and retelling over and over again with their children. There have been lots of favourite Monster foods so far from the book from ‘Green apple and suitcase ice-cream’ to ‘a caterpillar’s stinky sock’. The sillier, the better!
The book is available to buy off Eleanor’s website www.poppermonster.com and in the past week and a half since launching, Eleanor says that they are overwhelmed by all the positive feedback that they are getting. Eleanor is thrilled to say that Sensational Kids, an award winning and long established Child Development enterprise have also taken the book into their Home/Play/Develop /Learn Online Shop. The book is also available to buy in local bookshops Khans Books and The Book Centre.