Abby likes to make a statement about forgiveness and overcoming fear.
That Abby’s a make-believe dog who owns a music store, has one blue eye and one brown eye and her jacket sports a skull and cross bones just makes her that much more interesting to young readers.
Abby is the creation of Tracy Watland of Homewood who has found interesting and fun ways to bring important messages to students through words and pictures. Her first book, “The Kindness Can,” was published in 2017. Since then, she has published three other books. Her fourth book will be available in August.
The children’s book author visited a classroom at Willow School on May 4, sharing her latest book, “Carried Away,” a sequel to “Abby’s Magic Music” about the dog owner of a music store and her human friend Billy. Watland said, “we solve the world’s problems at that music store.”
“Book one (Abby’s Magic Music) is about forgiveness ― not holding a grudge because that makes you feel sad and angry. You get peace and harmony inside when you forgive,” she said. “The second one is overcoming fear through stage fright — how you’re letting your imagination carry you away when you think about all the bad things.”
In real life, there is a dog named Abby whose owner, Billy, has a guitar store in Northwest Indiana, but Watland’s stories flipped their roles in her books.
She can’t say how she comes up with her stories, except that they all have to leave children with a positive message.
“I love this book, and I think it’s a great message,” said Willow teacher Kimberly Homrich.
Watland works as an outside salesperson visiting different offices, “so I’m in the car a lot and a line will come into my head, or a title will come and then I just write them down.” She tests out her story ideas on children in her neighborhood or relatives’ kids. Her presentation of “Carried Away” at Willow School was her first public reading of the book.
Watland said she wants kids to know “You have the power to make it a good day or a bad day.”
“Everything I write is about positive. ‘The Kindness Can,’ then ‘The Witches New Britches’ has the witch going shopping for underwear. The message is: it doesn’t matter what anyone else sees, it’s what you have underneath that counts.”
Her third book is “The Blue Bird of Happy” with a message about believing in yourself and finding your voice.
Watland’s books are self-published through Mascot Books. She likes working with that company because they will publish in four-color text and illustrations and the books are bound with hard covers. They are available at Bookie’s Book Store in Homewood and through Amazon.