Sharing equality and support through children’s books
By Veronica Lemaster
Photos by Kimberlee Miller
“Everyone is welcome” is the main message in Patty Costello’s new children’s book, Catalina and the King’s Wall. The book, which is a lighthearted tale of a king wanting to build a wall between his kingdom and the nearby kingdom, is an interpretation of real issues seen in the United States of separation and greed. It tackles subjects such as the travel ban and building a wall using the king, his baker, and edible treats such as icing, sprinkles and cookie dough.
Costello has a PhD in Neuroscience and currently works for higher education remotely for Walden University. She and her husband moved to Boise from Minnesota five years ago, where she quickly got involved locally working on initiatives such as getting Medicaid expansion on the ballot, volunteering for Global Talent Idaho, and going through the extensive training needed to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children.
When asked what sparked inspiration to write a children’s book, Costello’s answer was simple: her two-year-old son. She took her son to the Women’s March in January 2017 where the outcome from the election was still fresh.
It was at the Women’s March where Costello had her son on her back in a pink on-sale snowsuit where she was worried about what message he would get.
“My main concern was how people were going to treat one another, because I would hear instances of people feeling more bold about people telling others to go back to where you came from or you don’t belong here, things like that leading up to the election and after the election. People felt more empowered to do those types of things, and I was concerned what type of message my son would get,” she said. “Although he’s not of minority, I certainly didn’t want him thinking he could say things like that when he got a little older.”
While asking herself what she can do to send a positive message to kids about belonging, a book came to mind.
“The family [in the book] is Muslim, because it’s supposed to represent certain countries that were not allowed to come visit the United States, which represents the travel ban,” Costello said. “But, to kids, it’s more about standing up for what you believe in and there’s no reason to build a wall, why should we separate ourselves?”
While her son was her main inspiration, she made the book for all children to enjoy, especially those on the receiving end of feeling “different,” whether they’re from another country, not the predominant race, or feel different in any other way. She wanted to send a message to kids on how to treat people and show them that everyone is equal.
Although she didn’t have previous experience with writing a children’s book, Catalina and the King’s Wall has had great reviews, including one from Foreword Reviews, saying “Catalina is a lighthearted parody full of colorful confections.” You can find the book locally at Hyde and Seek in Hyde Park, at Amaru Confections who hosted her book launch party, at Rediscovered Books, and online at Amazon.com. The book can also be checked out at all local libraries.
Costello’s mission with her work is to “create books that inspire children to want to change the world, one step at a time,” as seen on her website. She finds importance in the quote said by Jacqueline Woodson, “Reading = Hope x Change,” which can be seen in her future plans of publishing a nonfiction picture book biography.