A Friend for Festus, a children’s book, by Jennifer Greene-Sullivan and Illustrated by Joshua Wichterich
When I was deciding the conflict possibilities for this book, I really felt that there needed to be an internal conflict for Eve. Festus’ animal instinct to hunt isn’t a conflict that he will ever overcome. However, Eve could change over time.
As a teacher of young writers, I often remind them that a story’s plot is perpetually driven by the conflict, yet here I am writing children’s books that very often has very little in the way of conflict. Let me be frank, there is only so much a personified (or not personified) animal can do with conflict, so the internal turmoil needed to come from a human character.
It’s not hard for me to remember my past experiences as a child to draw from, especially since I am often known as the resident “drama queen” of my family. I always have felt that drama queens get a bad reputation because often children have BIG emotions and struggle with the proper verbal skills to handle them. Young children often internalize his or her response to problems because they are still learning the skills of problem solving as well as the ability to communicate their feelings.
That is true for my character Eve. By no fault of her own, she has to move in with her aunt and uncle for an entire summer and live on their farm. This is a cultural shock to her as well as an emotional transition. Festus’ shift to house pet gives an opportunity to have those two characters bond. Since it is a Christian children’s book, it is based on the following scripture:
John 15:12-15 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
The edited the ending of the book after the first publication of it because it didn’t truly feel like the internal conflict was resolved. I wanted to feel and to see Eve and Festus as well adjusted and fully functioning inside their new family environment.