Episode 114: Interview with Glenys Nellist about Her Three New Books

In this episode we visit with Glenys Nellist who has three wonderful books launching in August and September. One is specifically for the start of school: Little Mole Goes to School.

Our Guest: Glenys Nellist

Glenys Nellist was born and raised in a little village in northern England. The author of multiple award-winning children’s books, including the bestselling ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas, The Wonder That is You, and five popular series: Love Letters from God, Snuggle Time, ‘Twas, Good News and Little Mole, her writing reflects a deep passion for helping children discover joy and hope in the world. Glenys lives in Michigan with her husband, David.

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Terrie:

Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. Today, we have a special guest with us. She’s a returning guest. Glenys Nellist has joined us today. Thank you so much, Glenys, for joining us.

Glenys:

Oh, thanks so much for having me Terrie.

Terrie:

Well, Glenys, it’s so good to talk to you again. I think this is what, our third time talking together, third or fourth time of you being here on the podcast, and we’re just thankful that you wanted to come and share today. And I’m really excited to talk with you about your newest book: Little Mole Goes to School. And I just love this little guy. This is the third book in the series, right?

Glenys:

It is. Yes. So the Little Mole series is published by Beaming Books, and the illustrator is Sally Garland. She has been the same illustrator for the three books. The first book was Little Mole Finds Hope, and that came out in 2020. It came out, Terrie, just before COVID hit. And at the time I thought, “Oh goodness, what a terrible time to launch a book!” Because I had to cancel my book launch events and my school visits. But do you know what? It was actually a perfect time, because Little Mole Finds Hope is about finding hope in the darkness. And so it seemed like a good time after all to launch that book, but that was the first one. And then that was followed by Little Mole’s Christmas Gift, which was a story about kindness. So this is the third in the series: Little Mole Goes to School.

Terrie:

Well, tell us a little bit about this story. It’s so wonderful.

Glenys:

Oh, thank you. Well, if you met our character before, you might know he’s a little reticent, he’s a little shy. He lives with his mama in his burrow in the woods and the time has come for him to start kindergarten. And so he is anxious about starting school. He doesn’t know his alphabet. He’s wondering if all the other people in his class will have gifts, and he might not have any. He sets out for school, very anxious, but discovers that he does have his own special gift to share. So it’s a fun little story, I think.

Terrie:

Yes. And I love that it encourages kids who might be nervous about starting school, but it also reiterates the lesson that the Bible teaches us about the different parts of the body and each of us being important to the body of Christ and having our own gifts. So I love that parallel there in this story. It’s such a sweet story. I got my copy. I’m so excited to have my copy of the book.

Glenys:

I hadn’t really tied it in with that biblical principle, but you’re absolutely right, because not only does Little Mole discover that he does have his own unique gift, but that all his friends who also have gifts, they’re going to use them together to help each other. So you’re right. It is a little parallel to that biblical principle.

Terrie:

Yeah. Very nice. And I just love Sally’s drawings. She’s brought Little Mole to life in such a cute, cute way and he’s just adorable. So I love the illustrations.

Glenys:

Oh goodness. That is so true. Picture books, they call picture books for a reason. The pictures are so very important, but you’re right. Because even if you just compare the covers of the three titles, you’ll be able to see how she has progressed. Little Mole starts off in the first book as a Little Mole toddler, really. And by this book, when he goes to school, he’s ditched his little hat. He’s got kind of grown-up shoes on and he’s really, he looks like a little kindergartner and that’s a wonderful gift. Isn’t that another parallel to the body of Christ that I have to write, but I cannot draw? She has the gift of drawing. I don’t know if she’s good at writing too, but together, you know, and then I don’t know anything about printing a book. I mean, I’m good at writing, but I also need my editor. So it does take a whole team of people with different gifts who work together to produce something lovely.

Terrie:

Yeah. And then you add to that God’s timing and the whole thing, especially with the first book coming out and being just perfect timing for offering hope to children going through COVID. I mean, it’s just wonderful to see God’s work in our lives and through each person. I think what a great lesson for our kids to learn early on.

Glenys:

Yeah. I agree. One of the fun things in this book as I was writing it. So I wanted to, part of what teachers find great about these books is that children also learn a little bit about Mole. Let’s face it moles are not the most popular of creature. In fact, when I wrote the first book, I remember my editor saying, “Why didn’t you choose something?” more child friendly, like a bunny? A: there are so many bunny books, and B: it had to be a creature who lived in the dark. So that’s why I chose a little mole. Teachers appreciate that in the back of the first book, and in the back of this book, there are little facts for the children to learn about in this book. They’re going to learn about moles and hares and larks and squirrels because those are the main characters, but in real life, moles cannot see very well. And they can’t hear very well either. And so I kind of used that as the things that were going to make him more anxious about starting school. What if he can’t read the alphabet chart or what if he can’t hear the teacher? And then the challenge for me was how, how can I find creatures who do have those gifts that he can compare himself to. Hares have those massive floppy ears, and they can swivel them around. They’re great at listening. And squirrels have really good eyesight. And then I use little Lark who in the book can already sing her alphabet, which was the other thing that Little Mole was worried about because he doesn’t know his ABCs.  And so I think that we as humans are so good at comparing ourselves to others, not just children, but we all do it as grownups. We all want, we all see, say so with, I don’t know, nice hair. And we think I would like her hair. I wish I was good at what he could do. I hope that this book helps everyone who finds themselves comparing themselves to others. I hope it helps them to look and think about, you know, what, I’m, I’m good at something. And God made me the way I am.

Terrie:

I think that’s what’s so special about all three Little Mole books is that yes, they’re picture books and they’re written where children can understand and really kind of discover the lesson as Little Mole is as he’s learning the lesson, they’re understanding the lesson well, and, and it’s just that you’re not just telling them, be kind, have hope and use your gifts it’s that they also are discovering it as he does in the story. But I love it when a picture book also speaks to the parents. And that’s what I really love about Little Mole, because I think as you’re reading it to the kids, it’s speaking to our hearts too, and really ministering to everyone. Who’s hearing all three of these stories and all three are so special and I’m so thankful you’ve written them. They’re just lovely.

Glenys:

Thank you, Terrie. Well, that’s certainly my hope, you know that, yes. They’re cute stories to read at bedtime or whatever, but, but you can go deeper with them, and I hope they just touch human hearts and the things that we all struggle with.

Terrie:

Yeah. How many books have you published now?

Glenys:

Well, I think this year will be 30 books.

Terrie:

Wow. That’s so exciting. That’s awesome.

Glenys:

I know. It’s always amazing to me and what a blessing that I ever found that gift, you know that I have, and I was able to use it in this way. It’s been, my first book was only published in 2014, so it’s not even been 10 years yet. So it keeps me busy, you know?

Terrie:

And so let’s just kind of review the different series. You have, you have several series that you’ve written and there’s so many of your books that I just love. I love the Snuggle Time series. Is that what it’s called?

Glenys:

Yes. The Snuggle Time series this year, I’ll add the seventh book in the Snuggle Time series. I know that’s a padded board book series published by Zonderkidz. The first title was Snuggle Time Prayers. Then there’s Snuggle Time Psalms, Snuggle Time Fall Blessings, there’s Bible Stories. And the new one is called Snuggle Time Love and it’s based on 1 Corinthians 13: “love is patient love is kind.” They are a cute popular series too, and those are written in rhyme.

Terrie:

And then you have the once a, I mean the night before, the day before the morning of the one that plays on the night before Christmas poem, what is that series called?

Glenys:

Yes, it’s called the ‘Twas series.

Terrie:

Okay. The ‘Twas series, but I love those books and I love, once again, we always talk about the illustrator on those books. She’s just amazing.

Glenys:

Yes. The illustrator, the first book in that series was called ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas. So as you said, these books are based on the popular poem by Clement C. Moore’s The Night before Christmas. So the first one, I just took his words and wrote it about Jesus instead of Santa, and the illustrator for all of those, it, that one was followed by, Twas the Morning of Easter. The most recent one is ‘Twas the Season of Adventand ‘Twas the Season of Lent comes out in 2024. I just finished the edits on that. So the illustrator for all those four books is Elena Selivanova, and oh my goodness, she is so talented and absolutely brings those books to life. Well, my very first book, Terrie, that was published by ZonderKidz in 2014 was Love Letters from God. And that is a book of 18 Bible stories. And each of those stories has a little lift of flap love letter from God that you can write the child’s name in. That really was the first series that took off, you know, it’s so strange. I thought, yeah, I wrote a book. This dream came true, you know. I’ve arrived, I’m an author. And I thought that was it. You know, God has all the plans, and there is always a new way to write those old, old stories from the Bible. You know? So the second in that series, I wrote one just with the women of the Bible. And that one is called Love Letters from God Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. And then we also have Christmas Love Letters from God and Easter Love Letters from God. So that’s a series of four illustrated by Sophie Allsopp.

Terrie:

And they’re beautifully done too. And each of these, the illustrators are so unique in their gifts and style and their talents. And yet they just really bring the books alive. They just are beautiful illustrations in all your books, and they matched you well with some great illustrators. I think it’s wonderful.

Glenys:

Yeah. Isn’t that the truth? I mean, as a children’s book author who is traditionally published, I don’t get to pick my illustrators, you know, and that’s scary when, especially in the early days, when you know, you work hard. It’s like giving your baby over to someone, and you don’t know how it’s going to come back, you know. But I’ve learned to trust the professionals like you learn to trust your editor when she, or he says, that’s not a good word or let’s change this, often your first instinct is no. You know, I have learned that they absolutely are in that job because they’re good at it. And in a similar way, my publishers and my art directors are good at pairing my words up with the perfect illustrator. So I would absolutely choose the same illustrators that they have done.

Terrie:

And what other series am I missing? I’m missing some, I think. what other series do you have?

Glenys:

Well, my next books before the Snuggle Time, one before Snuggle Time Love, I do have two books coming out in a little series that we didn’t mention yet. And those are called Good News. Those are little board books, again for babies through, I would say six year olds. These books are published by Our Daily Bread Publishing. And again, the illustrator is Lizzie Walkley. Oh, when you take a peek at her illustrations, they’re just so, so sweet and endearing and colorful. And yeah, she really brought my words to life. Those books, the first one was Good News it’s Easter. And then we did Good News It’s Christmas, Good News God Made Me!. And these two new books are called Good News It’s Creation and Good News God Loves You . And so those two little board books release early September.

Terrie:

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. You have such special books, especially for the very young children to enjoy with their parents, and you speak to the parents’ hearts as well. And I love that. I love that God is using you to really share the good news with the world. And I pray that He continues to bless the work you’re doing and continues to use your books to share the gospel with people.

Glenys:

Oh Terrie, thank you so much. What a blessing and for any parents who have children who are starting school, if they’re a little anxious, there are tips in the back of this book to help you. And they were written by my friend who is a child and family therapist. So please check that out on my website. Then there are free downloads and you can find me at GlenysNellist.com.

Terrie:

Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” a podcast, celebrating books, that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you would like to connect with Glenys, you can reach her GlenysNellist.com and you can find all her books there too. And if you would like to connect with me, you can reach me at TerrieHellardBrown.com. I’d love for you to sign up for my mailing list. When you do, you receive several free items, as well as you get notifications when I post a blog post or an episode of this podcast. You also get the monthly newsletter that I send out. And this monthly newsletter now includes a book club. In the book club, I cover a board book, a picture book, but also a chapter book and some books for middle schoolers and high schoolers, as well as a book for you. We just started this in August. So each month we have a book club where you can find some quality books to share with your children, whatever age they are, and to enjoy yourself as well. And we’re excited to share a lot of great books this year. In addition to that, I’ve added one more item in my newsletter since August. And that is a devotional to go along with a picture book. And so you can read the picture book with your child, and then I have a devotional that you can talk over with your child and pray together. So those are part of our newsletter each month. I hope you enjoy it all. The other parts of the newsletter are still there as well. And again, that comes out once a month, if you’re on my mailing list. We also have a monthly giveaway, and you can find that on my social media, but especially in my Facebook group. We have a small private Facebook group for anyone who’s working with children or who’s a mom or a grandparent and would like to discuss the podcast or discuss any questions they might have about how to help our children grow in their faith. We would love to have you join us. All you have to do is email me. If you’d like to become a part of that. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, please like or share; let your friends know about us so that we can grow and others can know we’re here. We appreciate your help. We appreciate you being here, and we hope you have a wonderful day.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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