Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts is a story I saved on my hard drive a couple of years ago. It is one of our farm stories, that I witnessed happening, although our ending was quite different! I will tell you our ending later. The story was short and sweet and I set it aside, hoping that one day I would come back and do something with it. As usually happens, life moves us forward and it’s hard to step back towards a project. But, this story called to me to bring it out. Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts is a children’s story. It is also a story of love, and compassion told in a gentle, comforting style. .
Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts was written for children who still like to cuddle up at the end of a day and hear a story. The duck facts that appear throughout the book will appeal to the older beginning readers. The drawings brought the story to life for me. I had so much ahead of me, to be learned, as this book traveled through the process from words on a computer screen, to a story to share with little ones. The process was slow, because life happens. And then suddenly, I felt the need to finish the process! And now, I am holding the fresh off the press copy in my hands. The books are available through Amazon.com. I will have a box of books, too that I will sell and distribute to independent shops in my area. The story has been shared!
I thought you might like to learn a little more about the backgrounds of the main characters in Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts. Each character has their own special story, any one of which could become a children’s book, if the moment is right. A little side note about me; I have been collecting children’s books since before I was a mom. Guess it was about time to write one of my own. I love the genre of “read to me” books. The type of book that is shared with a child. The kind of book that is soft, gentle, visually vivid, and approachable. The story that is well loved and read over and over. The art work would have to be just right! (keep reading for more on this)
Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts Characters
Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts starts with the main character – Margarita. She and her mate, Jimmy, found themselves soon to be homeless ducklings one spring a few years ago. At the time, I was part owner of a feed dealership. We sold chicks and ducklings in the spring as did other garden centers and feed stores in the area. Poor Margarita and Jimmy, who had no names at the time, were an unfortunate Easter gift. The family couldn’t keep them. They called me asking if I could help them re home the ducklings. Well what’s two more when you already have eight ducks, right?
So these two ducklings were given to me. I was told they were used to being handled and loved, although that was not the case once they hit the farm. They joined the flock and had no interest in me or my desire to hug and pet them. Ah well, they were happy and pretty. I had been told they were Indian Runner but it turned out they were the Buff breed. The coloring is a light fawn with the head of the drake being a darker taupe.
They did grow up to be a handsome pair and Margarita is a lovely broody hen each spring. The goal of collecting eggs to sit on is taken seriously and we watch her repeat the process each year. Unfortunately, Margarita has not been successful at hatching a bunch of ducklings. That is the nice thing about story telling. You get to construct the ending however you want it to be. Margarita and Jimmy also have a last name, Buff. What else could it possibly be!
Estelle, the Elder Duck in the story has been with us for many years. She is starting to show her age and prefers to find a quiet corner to rest in during free ranging time. If something is happening, Estelle still wants to join in the quacking though. It was her job to have the speaking role during the building of the plot.
Zeus the Tiger cat actually belongs to the book’s illustrator, Jacqui Papi Shreve. We had a Tiger cat here on the farm for a long time. Tigger was a good farm cat who unfortunately left us too early. So adding Zeus into the story was bringing a bit of Tigger back to the farm.
Zeus was a rescue kitten from the local animal control, along with his buddy, Pepper. Zeus was chosen by his girl, Emma. He was so little when they picked him out that they had to wait to bring him home. He is incredibly loving and appreciates his new world. Zeus enjoys taking selfies with Emma. His favorite pastimes are getting into stuff and staring at his fish.
Jacqui was instrumental in bringing the story to life, trying to figure out what I was trying to say, using pictures. One of the most valuable lessons I learned as an author, working with a team is to give direction and keep asking until you get what you want. I learned that no one can read my mind and I needed to be clear about what I was looking for in illustrations. I am thrilled with the results, so I guess either Jacqui learned to read my mind or I learned to communicate clearly. In the end, we pulled together a book we are both proud to send into the world.
Ms. Pig. Actually we have four Ms Pigs on the farm. My guess is that the Ms. Pig in the story is more like Mariah Pig. Although in some ways she resembles Charlie Pig, too. Our pigs are raised in large fenced areas where they can freely roam around, rooting, playing and taking naps in the straw filled shed. The piglets are raised family style by Charlie and the two sows.
TJ Rooster was hatched on the farm. His daddy was a silky rooster called Mr. Tweet. His momma hen was likely an Ameraucana hen who is not here anymore. TJ had to take over the reins as flock protector when a fox broke into the chicken run one day and Mr. Tweet did not survive the attack. TJ is a good rooster, and has back up from King and Little Roo. The three of them have worked out some way to get along with the flock of hens in the red coop and run.
The Sheep appear in the drawings quite a few times, although no specific sheep is named. It would have been hard to single out one of these characters, plus we also have a herd of goats. So The Sheep represent the barnyard fiber growers on the farm. I do think that Joey and Ike might actually be a future story line though.
And then there’s me, the Farmer, along with our buddy, Chief the farm dog. A bit of a tribute to our buddy who worked hard on the farm, keeping the animals safe from many fox and raccoon predators. I never expected to see myself in illustrations but here I am. Farmer does her best to solve the mystery, and not let on that she knows about the secret gifts.
There you have it. The behind the scenes look at the story behind the story, Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts.
If you get a chance to read Margarita and the Beautiful Gifts to your children, or enjoy the story for yourself, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. Under the listing is a spot to click to get to the review screen. I would love to know what you think. Currently the book is available in soft cover, with a release of a hardcover version in January of 2017.