If you already own a copy of “Olly, the Lone Red Squirrel” you may have noticed some of the interesting facts I'll talk about in this post. But if you don’t already have a copy of this book, this is an opportunity to get to know it better before you buy it.
So, let’s start!
Why is Olly red while all the other squirrels are gray?
I wrote this story inspired by red squirrels in the UK. When I first visited London in December 2015, I only saw gray squirrels in the park. I tried to find the red ones, but couldn’t find any. I was told that they are nearly extinct in the UK. I was lucky enough to see a red squirrel in The Lakes, Cumbria, about 3 hours north of London. I was so happy about it that Olly’s story immediately came to my mind. I felt I needed to write a story about the only red squirrel among the gray ones. Many years passed until I finally self-published this book in 2022. The story has also changed many times. The final story is very different from my first draft.
Why is there a boy that appears briefly in the story?
The boy is the second “gift” nature sends Olly. The boy has red hair and connects with Olly when they look at each other. The boy can also be bullied, and also be alone like Olly, but he doesn’t lose his own incentive to explore the forest and be happy with the wonders of live he finds. His bravery and kindness touched Olly in a spiritual way. No words are spoken, but Olly understands that he is bigger than the sad situation he finds himself in. That he is beautiful the way he is and should be happy with himself.
Why is everything gray in the beginning and then turns to color?
The gray color symbolizes two things. First Olly’s emotional state. He is sad and lonely and so, everything seems dark in his life. Second, gray is the color of others. Olly was led to believe that everything was gray and he was the weirdo. His red color is not accepted, he is an outcast. But when Olly feels good about himself and finds encouragement from the boy to keep going, he is accepted by the other squirrels. They finally saw Olly for what he is, a gentle little soul. The color of the world then changes, along with Olly’s feelings. The forest reveals beautiful autumn colors, many reds like Olly’s fur. Now he's happy and his world is one he finally fits into.
Why write a story about bullying and rejection?
Since moving to Japan in June 2019, I've been able to learn a lot of interesting things. One thing that impressed me was the fact that there are so many cases of bullying at schools. Sometimes even driving the children to suicide! I couldn’t believe it! I felt so heartbroken knowing this. Unfortunately bullying happens all over the world. I hope that by reading my book and empathizing with Olly, the children will be kind and friendly to others . I hope they can identify cases of bullying and face them, telling an adult, offering support to the abused child. I hope the world becomes a better place and I believe education for our little ones is the way forward.
Are there any “secrets” in the book?
I would say yes! There is an insect that we can find in every spread. It's always there, following Olly wherever he goes. As a reminder that the forest is with Olly all along. He is actually never alone! He just can’t see it because of his pain. Do you know which insect I'm talking about?
Is there any meaning in the smiling acorn?
Yes! Olly’s Oak tree sends him an acorn in his darkest moment, when he most needs company. The acorn smiles to remind Olly to be happy. The acorn is like “ an imaginary friend”. Something that offers comfort, even if they are not of the same race. How many of us have pets as our best friend?
But Olly’s heart was so broken that even after gaining a friend, he still cried. He needed time to heal! It is important to recognize our feelings and feel them. Let all the pain out until we can finally heal. Feeling happy sometimes takes time, and that's ok!
In my first draft the acorn had a name, Olly called him “Mister Nut”, but after the edits the editor and I decided to leave his name out of the story.
Did you enjoy reading the interesting facts about “Olly, the Lone Red Squirrel” book?
Did you have a different perspective than I did on the story?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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