Winner of the 2017 Spark Award for Excellence in an Independently-Published Children's Book.
Published by Little Wooden Flute www.littlewoodenflute.com
Illustrations by Vlada Soshkina and Polina Doroshenko
Soldier is the story of a little porcupine who was born with quills that do not lie flat and prevent him from ever receiving a hug. As he longs for closeness, his father notices his unhappiness and whittles him a wooden flute, which he plays every night from the tallest tree in the forest. The sadness in the music resonates with a field mouse, who feels compelled to find him. When she discovers his condition, she enlists the help of her friends and sets about preparing something special for Soldier designed to bring him his longed-for hug.
A few themes are embedded in the story that I hope will have meaning for readers of all ages: (1) how humans (in this case porcupines) are wired with a unique ability to turn suffering into beauty (i.e., music-making); (2) how sadness signals to others the need for help and how if we are attuned as listeners, we can receive this communication and offer aid; and (3) how small acts of kindness can change lives.