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BookWorthy Chats with Eden Estabrook

Book Worthy with Eden Estabrook
Arine the Armadillo Cover


Valerie - Welcome to the Bookworthy podcast. Today, we're talking with Eden Estabrook about her book, Arnie, the Armadillo Goes to Antarctica, a fun exploration of the letter A with a lovable armadillo. Welcome to Bookworthy Eden.


Eden -Hello. Thanks for having me.


Valerie -Glad to have you here. Now, to start us off, Eden, have you ever traveled to Antarctica?


Eden -I have not, although I think the Instagram algorithm is on to me because it sent me a reel about a cruise that goes to Antarctica. And it explained that it was a very inexpensive cruise and very full of sites, in particular the Arctic animals. So, I don't know, maybe now I need to add a cruise to Antarctica to my bucket list.



Valerie -I had a friend of a friend's brother who went on one of those cruises and they are told explicitly not to touch or engage the animals even when they're on their little excursions, but they don't tell the animals that. So the animals are like, so buddy, tell me why you want Antarctica. So they come up close. It's like, how could you not like hug a penguin?


Eden -Yeah. Just like, it's like, it's like you see the National Geographic photographers are like, they're photographing, and they are, and there's like a penguin on their back. That's just like, they're like, yeah. No.


Valerie -Right, right. No personal space. What is it? You look at that big swarm of penguins when they're trying to keep warm and like, yep, personal space is not a cultural cue in the penguin world.


Eden -No, no. I haven't heard much about penguins being too mean either. I don't know if I would approach like a polar bear, but man, if I saw a road penguin, I would be tempted to go say hello. You know?


Valerie -Yeah, I would be too. There are too many cute penguin movies too that makes it hard not to.


Eden - Exactly, and I mean, if they don't interact with humans too much, they probably don't know us to be predators or prey, so I mean, my own, my guess is they'd approach it with curiosity, like, who is this? I don't know, maybe that's irresponsible of me, but I would say hi to a penguin. There we go.


Valerie -Probably so. Well... Yes, I would too, so I would get a hand slap for that one, I'm sure. Well Eden, what's the most extreme place you've ever traveled to?


Eden -And, you know, I'm honestly pretty boring. I've been on the East Coast most of my life. Um, I grew up in Michigan, so that's not quite East Coast, but Eastern Standard Time, so close enough. Um, and then I've been in North Carolina for the last 13 years. So, the most extreme place that someone like me has gone was the West Coast. I went there briefly on a business trip for my day job, um, to California, and that was extreme for me because that required two flights, not just one. For me, absolutely. And I know some people who have done it like so much, there's like, they might listen to this and be like, that is so sad. And I'd be like, yeah, I would agree. I don't get it. It does. Yeah. On the way back, I got stuck, I think in Houston for a night.


Valerie- That is an extreme travel day, most definitely.


Eden -The plane didn't have a crew, which I thought was a very interesting problem to have. But yeah, like, you know, everybody was at the gate, the plane was there, but no crew. So they're like, yeah, you know, spend the night and come back the next day for the next flight. And I'm like, fantastic. Love it. Yeah. Houston airport's lovely.


Valerie -That would be problematic for sure. You always wanted to stay in Houston, right? Lovely. I know. I've had a few, what was it? When I was younger, I was traveling with my high school band and we went to, we were going one place but ended up in Corpus Christi. And I have never experienced humidity that I could cut with a knife. Like when I went to Corpus Christi, I was like, I'm from Texas, but Corpus Christi is its beast.


Eden- Yeah. Thankfully I didn't leave the hotel or the airport. So, if someone asked have you been to Houston, I could technically say yes, but no.


Valerie-There's both a lot to see and not a lot to see in Houston. I lived there for seven years.


Eden -Yeah. Oh, going to Texas is also on my bucket list. Like actually going to Texas. So I want to see an armadillo and I'm there. They're off there. They're quite a bit.



Valerie -Yes, yes, we find them on the side of the road very often, unfortunately. Well, tell us a little bit about Arnie the Armadillo and his visit to Antarctica.


Eden -Yeah, so, um, Arnie the armadillo is, um, a story designed to, um, sneakily, uh, expose children to a diverse vocabulary, in particular words that start with the letter A. Um, I personally just love alliteration, um, and that's kind of how it all started. Um, but the kind of the whole idea formed when I read an article by the NIH, and I have it stashed somewhere, that kind of note that kids learn linguistically best in that younger age range, which makes sense. That's why they recommend teaching another language when they're younger, and it's harder for people like us who are a little bit older. So they learn well in that one to five age range. So, and I think a lot of people take that principle in apply it to bilingual education, but I think there's also an application for that knowledge just in the, you know, in English, you know, the language that a majority of the world uses. And I also think they're capable of learning even in a different way, you know, some of the more complex words. So Arne the Armadillo does have some bigger words like Antarctica, that's a multi-syllable word. Another fun addition to the end of the book, which a lot of my older readers enjoy, is a gallery of vocabulary words that they run across through the book, whether it be the words or illustrations. And that's been fun. I've had a lot of parents message me on DMs about their kids being like, oh, you know, there's an Axolotl in there. I didn't see that. Then they'd have to go back and find it. They're like, oh my gosh, there was an aardvark. Where was that? And then going back and finding it even though it wasn't like a part of the text. So lots of different ways to engage with it. I designed it for kids three to five, but I now have readers as young as one and as old as ten. So my intended audience brought it when it launched.


Valerie -Well, it's one of those like, you know, the good thing about children's books is it can go to a broad range and then everybody reads at a different pace and everybody, every kid needs to be challenged to step above their reading level a little bit or to be introduced to words that are a challenge or words they don't come across every day. And I love how you've,

Apple Tree

you know, both with the glossary in the back, you know, with axolotl and things that weren't directly in the story, but you're still having so many words in there. And you know, what was it? I think I laughed out loud when Arnie was picking apricots in Antarctica, apples, apples in Antarctica. That's funny.


Eden -Ah, picking apples, yeah. Yeah. So fun fact about that, I did have this reviewed ahead of time by a small focus group of parents, as well as teachers and people in the education space. But I also learned through that experience, that some adults are just fuddy-duddies. I had several recommendations that they're like, it's not realistic that there are apple trees in Antarctica. And I'm like, Look at the cover. We're sending an armadillo to Antarctica. We lost reality like page one. So I opted to keep that scene in and it's honestly one of my favorite illustrations because I just think it's hilarious to see an armadillo trying to pull a frozen apple off of a frozen tree. So.


Valerie -Yes, yes. Well, it is really funny. And I think you do a great job of not just introducing alliteration and the letter A and all of the unique words that you use, but Arnie also has a story along the way where he forgets his coat and friendship and building friendship and being kind is also a message in as well. Did you intend to put a little bit of moralistic all along?


Eden -You know, I think... So, and this might be getting a little analytical for a children's book, but I studied English, and I studied writing. So, you know, your whole, when you've studied it as a profession, you've kind of learned every story. It has to have a purpose, you know, it's pretty hard to just have, like it has to have a beginning, a climax, and an end. So nine times out of 10, they always teach you about the hero's journey, you know, something's gotta happen and then something that the main character has to then overcome that challenge, and then it brings it to a conclusion. So without it, I kind of feel like a story would just kind of feel like it's floating out there or feel unfinished without some sense of structure. So yes, that was purposeful, kind of just for the sense of making sure that the story just didn't hang there. But I

Eden Estabrook Quote

also think, once again, the whole idea was teaching vocabulary in a way that they don't know they're learning. Like it's not, I don't market it as an educational book. It is just that it's a book. And I think that the story being able to incorporate some things like helping, like Arnie helping out an elderly anteater on the airplane, or his friend Albert, spoiler alert, there's an alpaca in there, or Albert offering his argyle sweater to Arnie at the end. Those are small things that I think are easy to incorporate just into the grand story of things. And it's kind of another way that you can teach while not making it overtly like it's not an educational book.


Valerie -Yeah, because I think that the story brings the reader through and like you said, they don't know that they're learning new things. They're just following Arnie on this journey. I think it grounds the book so that they're introduced to these words. His life, but the great thing about Arnie's story is that you know, a kid is just following this curious armadillo as he's going on an adventure. And, but along the way, these unique things like picking apples in Antarctica and meeting in alpaca, you know, are kind of just, they're not thrown in, but you're kind of just along the way, you're like, huh, okay, there is more to this book than just. Armadillo in Antarctica. And I think that makes kids turn pages and. In disguise, they're learning along the way, which we love.


Eden - Yeah, well, and the literary title I could say is Dr. Seuss. That’s why I wore my special author shirt. One thing I loved and what kind of inspired Arnie as I was putting the story together is I just loved the organized chaos that is Dr. Seuss. And I think, you know, if anyone

The Cat and the Hat Cover

hasn't read Dr. Seuss that's listening to this, I would ask them to, you know, pause, go read Cat in the Hat or Fox in Socks, and then come back and you'll know what I'm talking about helping. But, you know, it's a very wild, very wild ride when you're reading a Dr. Seuss book and even like, you know, you're surprised along the way. And so with Arnie, I didn't go into, you know, fake characters, you know, like rockets and, and all that I stuck with, with reality, but I kind of wanted to keep an element of that organized chaos like, okay, yeah, why isn't Alpaca in Antarctica? You know, he just is, you know, and, or why on earth is he trying

Fox in Socks Cover

to pick frozen apples from an apple tree? He just is like, it's, you know, and your kind of, you

leave it. And I think, um, I always loved it as a kid and I hope that the readers that I have are going to, you know, I found it memorable and I'm hoping that the kids that read it will kind of have that same positive and fond memory of the book when they grow up and they're like, why did I read a book about that? It's like, you know, why on earth did I read about an armadillo going to Antarctica? So, hopefully, having read it, you might have seen kind of some of that chaotic-ness there, which was purposeful.


Valerie- And that's what, and you know, it's one of those like, that's the way kids think. They don't think in a very linear fashion, you know, every kid's a little different, but there is that chaotic-ness. And when we welcome that bizarre way of thinking, that unique and creative way of thinking, it allows kids to connect even more with the book because like, yeah, this is the way I think. Yeah. What are other words we could throw in here? It doesn't have to make sense. And so I think that that's what makes kids just love a book all the more as it speaks to the way their brain is operating. And I think Arnie does a great job there.


Eden -And hopefully engages their imagination a little bit because you do have to use your imagination to think about a desert animal on an arctic continent. Even if they don't know that they're thinking of an arctic, like a desert animal on an arctic continent, like, you know, we can tell one of these things is not like the other, but we can make it work. So hopefully there's also that bonus for them as they're adventuring with Arnie through the letter A.


Valerie – Now, did you always want to be a children's author?


Eden -That's funny, no actually. So I, yeah, so I studied professional writing or business writing is usually what a lot of people better understand and that's what I practice in my day job. So, but in college, so I have a business writing degree with a minor in medieval studies. So, you know, perfect fit, perfect fit. Yeah, great, great combination. And I loved writing essays. So, I always kind of thought I was going to end up becoming an essayist or work in the adult nonfiction realm. But let's see, I wanted to become a writer when I was 14, so I'm 27 now. And so it's been 13 years. And none of the ideas for adult nonfiction ever stuck. None of them. Like I've had five or six where you know, I've even bought research books for some concepts and like, you know, kind of went the whole nine yards and it just, it just didn't happen. And then I was thinking one day about like Dr. Seuss and I thought, well, you know, maybe that could be an area to, you know, venture into. As I said, I kind of missed, I have some little people in my life, they're not kids, but I know people with people. And, you know, I've, as I kind of hear a lot

Winnie the Pooh Cover

of the frustrations with children's literature, I was like, well, let's just make one, you know, because no one they don't read. They don't read some of the same stuff now, like maybe they need a fresh new, like, I don't know, new version of, of Dr. Seuss or what I love because I kind of wanted to mix Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh, two of my favorites. Like little things. That's why I wanted the innocence and the adorableness of R&E but with some of that chaos that Dr. Seuss brought. So that's kind of what I was going for, like a strategic combination of both. But so yeah, did I expect to get into children's literature? No. But you know, you kind of learn as a writer if, if inspiration strikes, write it down. So my first draft of Arnie is written in a notebook. And I think I left it for four or five months. And then I was talking to a friend and talked about children's literature. And I was like, well, you know, I have thought about doing one and then here we go. Very long-winded answer, but the short answer is no, but there are a lot of answers. Here we are.


Valerie -What is it? You took the long road to get to where you are, right?


Eden -Yes, and lots of failed attempts at writing, being a writer just in general. So never give up.


FAIL acronym

Valerie -That's right. What did they say? I've seen something where the abbreviation for fail is like, I wish I could remember it. I'll have to find it, but it's like still learning is kind of what the somehow F-A-I-L comes out to some little saying with that.


Eden - Yeah, yeah, yeah. From what I learned, yeah, I mean, I kind of learned from the experience, like, you know, you sometimes just have to look at things from a different angle. I was genuinely frustrated that I'd gone this far in my career and none of, like, the inspiration wasn't there behind a lot of the ideas and what I thought I should be doing. And then kind of, you know, when you just, I literally switched from adult to children and somehow the inspiration was there. So here we are.


Valerie - You talked about Dr. Seuss and Winning the Pooh. Are there any other children's books that have been really impactful for you?


Eden -Honestly, growing up, those were the big ones. In my young adult, younger adult years, I should say like seven, eight, nine, 10, those. Well, that's still, yeah. I read them pretty long. I loved the Wishbone series. So that's why I went into medieval literature. So my favorite book

A Pup In King Arthur's Court

was Pup in King Arthur's Court, which was the Wishbone version of a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Excellent book, both of them are great, highly recommend them. I read it, it was like my favorite section in the library. I read them over and over and over again. I select them now and I hope one day when I have kids, I can pass on my wishbone collection to them. But as far as when I was younger, Dr. Seuss kind of reigned in the house. So bless my parents, my dad would read us Fox in Socks at night and if anyone's read that and try to read it out loud, you'll understand why that's a real sacrifice.


Valerie -It is, it is. Or one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. Or Go Dog Go.


Eden -Yeah, ten apples up on top was my jam. Ten apples up on top were one of my favorites. I just recently bought a copy because I realized we didn't have one. At the same time, my sister also bought a copy because she realized she didn't have one. So we both have a copy of Ten Apples up on top. So that is an excellent story that makes zero sense. But it is great. I love it.


Valerie -Made zero sense, but it is, it's great. Yeah. It's one of those books that again, that chaotic mind that kids have. I mean, kids are like, yeah, let's, let's do this. Well, yeah. Exactly. There is that introduction of, you know, both rhyme and counting. And I think that's, that's the mark of an amazing book is one that, you know, they're learning along with having so much fun. And that's what we want as authors to make reading fun and to be an experience, not just, you know, Jack and Jill went up the hill. You know, we want there to be action and enjoyment and emotion in all the things. Where's Arnie going to travel next?


Eden -Yeah, so obviously it's alphabet-themed, so he will be going somewhere else. It has not been written yet but I have aspirations of Brazil. So believe it or not I do actually research where he's going. So we got to figure out what's there and then what you can use to come up with you know the vocabulary. So I have aspirations of him backpacking in Brazil. If that's actually what's gonna happen, I don't know, but that's kind of the direction that I'm going so far. He might stop off in Boston on his way there. I thought he might have a brother. So, you know.


Valerie- Okay. There are a lot of B words to choose from. It's just putting them all in order in that chaotic fun way.


Arnie the Armadillo

Eden -There are, yeah. Yeah, but you gotta, once again, you gotta put it in a way that's still made to fit together. Like, you know, you can't just throw words on a page, and even if it is chaotic it still has to have some sense of order and some sense of like, you know, yeah, purpose as you're going through the book. So I, well, that's the part I haven't figured out is what thread is gonna tie it all together so it doesn't seem like we're sending him all over the place.


Valerie -Is your goal to do all of the letters of the alphabet?


Eden -I would love to. So I'm a self-published author, which, means self-funded. So the goal at a minimum would be to do ABC. And if I can get the momentum, then continue forward with the rest of the letters. But I thought at the very least a trilogy. But yes, I would love to see Arnie go through all the different letters and meet new friends who also start with different letters along the way. So I just want to just kind of, you know, it launched in November. So it's been out on the market now for two and a half months. I've still got some time to go. So if anybody would like to see more books, they can do so by purchasing Arnie the Armadillo because making new ones depends on the sales of this. So if you love the concept and you're listening to this, then follow on Instagram and buy on Amazon. So, if you love the concept and you're listening to this, then follow on Instagram and buy on Amazon.


Valerie -I think there's a great opportunity for teachers and staff to bring in a new book that can be for their preschool or their kindergarten classroom. We have had a lot of people coming from other countries, even in our school system, where they're struggling with the language barrier. And just to have those words to continually practice and work through as they are learning the language. It's a great tool to have in your back pocket. So I'm excited to see if we get through just ABC or if we go all the way to Z, cause that'll be fun. Cause of course, obviously it has to be a zebra in Z, but there are not very many Z words. Z and X, you're gonna have your work cut out for you. 

Letter Z

Eden -Me too, Z would be tough. We might have to start getting to micro-organisms if we enter into X. Lately, that's at the end of the alphabet. That's a problem for like 2040 Eden.


Valerie -Yeah, yeah. Even with Z's too, there are some microorganisms there. Well, fun. Yeah, that's at the end. There you go. We're just focused on the letter B right now. So fun. Well, Eden, where can people find out more about you and your books?


Eden -Yeah, I always encourage people to follow Arnie on Instagram. So that's at Arnie the armadillo. From there, there's a link in there's a link tree in my bio that takes you literally everywhere. But that's where I provide major updates. So, if you have any listeners local to the Charlotte, North Carolina area, that's where they can see where I pop up doing signed books. Or if you're in a different state, that's where they can find my Amazon or Etsy link where they can purchase Arnie through there. And there's, I also have a website which will kind of take you to the same spot, but that's


Valerie -So fun. Well, I look forward to hearing more about Arnie and his adventures following along with you, and hoping our listeners do the same. Thank you so much for being with us, Eden.


Eden -Yes, thanks for having me.


Valerie -And thank you for joining Eden and me on this episode of the Bookworthy Podcast. Check out the show notes for any books or links that we discussed and let us know in the comments if you've ever traveled to Antarctica or what's the most extreme place that you have traveled to. Be sure to like and subscribe so we can discover more great books together.

Happy reading.


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