AuthorsFrom the Wire

A Tender Ode to Late Bloomers

In “A Tender Ode to Late Bloomers,” author Phoebe Fox shares the inspiration behind her picture book, Julian Blooms. Drawing from her childhood experiences at the Phoenix Zoo and her husband’s late bloomer journey, Fox crafts a heartwarming story about a peachick named Julian. This delightful tale teaches readers about patience, embracing individual journeys, and finding courage in the face of challenges, making it a must-read for both children and adults alike. With its uplifting message, Julian Blooms reminds us all that “blooming” later in life doesn’t diminish the impact and joy we can bring to the world.

A Tender Ode to Late Bloomers

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Inspiration behind Julian Blooms

The story behind Julian Blooms began with a visit to Whitfill Nursery. Phoebe Fox, the author, grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and often accompanied her mother, an avid gardener, to the nursery. It was there that she would observe the magnificent peacocks strutting around, their gorgeous, iridescent tail feathers fanning out.

Years later, Phoebe married a man who claimed to be a late bloomer. Coming from a family of late bloomers himself, he became a father to three of them. The idea for Julian Blooms was sparked when Phoebe took her boys to the Phoenix Zoo and saw a bright pink peacock in full bloom during the Wildlife Lantern Safari exhibit. Inspired by this late-bloomer peachick, Phoebe decided to write a story about Julian, a late bloomer who discovers his uniqueness.

Writing for Children

Phoebe has always had an affinity for children’s books. As a teacher and school librarian, she had the opportunity to work closely with kids and develop a deep appreciation for the impact of children’s literature. Her love for children’s books led her to collect them, starting from her own childhood. Over the years, her collection grew significantly, especially when she began teaching.

It was during her time as a school librarian that Phoebe decided to try getting published. A friend from her childhood informed her about a picture book-writing contest with Southwest Human Development. She submitted a manuscript and won the contest, a moment that solidified her belief that she was on the right path as a children’s book author.

A Tender Ode to Late Bloomers

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Writing Process of Julian Blooms

The journey of writing Julian Blooms took approximately three years. Phoebe spent about six months working on the first version of the story. To ensure its quality, she sought feedback from her author friends, trusted family members, and an editor, which resulted in numerous revisions. However, Phoebe’s work didn’t end there. Once she started collaborating with her illustrator, Melissa Bailey, further changes were made to refine the story and bring Julian to life.

Finding the Right Illustrator

Finding the right illustrator is crucial for any picture book, as their artwork brings the story to life. For Phoebe, the search for an illustrator began with an introduction from her friend Susan Stolz, an author of numerous children’s books. Susan introduced Phoebe to Melissa Bailey, who proved to be the perfect fit for Julian Blooms. Working with Melissa was a great experience, as she exemplified professionalism and had the ability to capture the essence of Julian through her illustrations.

A Tender Ode to Late Bloomers

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Choosing the Self-Publishing Route

Phoebe made the decision to take the self-publishing route for Julian Blooms. This choice allowed her to have complete control over the end product, including the selection of the illustrator. The desire for control, along with the opportunity to closely collaborate with her chosen illustrator, led Phoebe to choose self-publishing. However, Phoebe remains open to the possibility of traditional publishing. If a traditional publisher were to express interest in acquiring Julian Blooms, she would definitely consider it.

Key Lesson of Julian Blooms

Julian Blooms carries a powerful message for readers, particularly late bloomers. The book emphasizes that blooming later than others doesn’t diminish the potential for an impactful and meaningful life. Phoebe aims to inspire children and adults alike to embrace their individual journeys and to exercise patience. In a fast-paced world, it is important to savor the present moment, as that is where true joy can be found. Phoebe also highlights the importance of encouraging others when they face challenges, teaching readers the value of courage and discovering their own unique qualities.

Positive Messages for Readers

While Julian Blooms primarily emphasizes embracing individual journeys and the importance of patience, it also conveys other positive messages. One of these messages is the encouragement to persevere in difficult times. Phoebe believes in instilling resilience in her readers and showing them that challenges can be overcome. Additionally, the book emphasizes the significance of courage and standing up for loved ones. Julian, the late-bloomer peachick, demonstrates the importance of bravery in the face of danger when it comes to protecting those he cares about.

Through Julian Blooms, Phoebe Fox hopes to leave her readers with a sense of empowerment, the belief that their uniqueness is valuable, and the courage to face life’s challenges head-on. The book is a testament to the beauty of individuality and the enduring impact that late bloomers can have on the world.