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Sunny and Coco’s A-Z of Surfing, Yes it's a fun children's book of A.B.C's that delves into the world of surfing. The book has a clever way of combining surfing equipment and surf terminology around learning your alphabet. But also incorporates the environment, health, relationships, culture, safety, imagination, creativity, skill development, self confidence, resilience and some seriously cool vibes!
Surf Sister discovered that author Kelly Smith is a bit of a grommet at heart and shares her focus is being healthy and happy.
Can you tell me a little background about yourself? When you started surfing?
I grew up in the beautiful Forster on the Mid North Coast. I played a tonne of sport growing up and we spent a lot of time in the water which is easy in Forster as it is all beaches and the very large Walllis Lake. There was only one girl in town (Stacey Emerton) who surfed back then... Her brother Beau was a professional surfer so needless to say Stacey was ripping! I wasn't allowed to go to the beach by myself as a young girl, my brother was and he surfed, my parents didn't so I threw myself very deeply into netball, swimming, triathlons and much more as a teenager.
I went to Uni at southern Cross University and completed a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Sports Management (majoring in Sports Management) and then completed a Diploma of Education encase I ever had a family. I was a targeted Graduate from University which is almost impossible and I was sent to Ballina High School as a PE Teacher. I have been there now for 11 years. I started surfing regularly when I was about 23 years old.
I threw myself into surfing like the eternal grommet, I love it so much and can't think of anything better to do. Luckily, having school holidays, I spent endless long days at the beach. I got heavily involved in helping out with Byron Bay Boardriders on their committee for 4 years. I run a surfing program at school and also have my surf instructors accreditation.
I have also been the recipient of the NSW Premier’s Teachers Scholarship to travel the world for 5 weeks to study how to encourage participation in leisure activities for youth. My main aim is to promote happy, healthy and active kids.
What inspired you to create a children's book?
My inspiration for the book is from my obsession with health and everything about it coupled with my main love of surfing. I needed some stimulation after teaching for 11 years so on the side i wrote the book. It was a goal of mine for a few years and one day i decided i was just going to get stuck into it and complete it. There were also two very frothing grommets (and all the grommets out there) at boardriders who my characters were based on. Always with smiles on their faces, soo excited to go surfing and hang with their friends. They were lovely kids who had their heads screwed on, healthy and happy!
The artist who did the artwork?
My artist was Leroy Sams from Noosa... he is a friend of a friend. He surfs so understood the landscapes I was angling for. I gave him a brief for each picture he would do the sketch, I would approve or change it a bit, he would then colour it and I made any changes from there that I wanted.
Can you share some of the process of making a children's book?
Being a bit of a grommet at heart myself I didn't find writing the book hard at all. I just love being healthy and happy and spending my time in the ocean. I already had the names of my characters and personalities I wanted to convey. The artwork took the longest as it was quiet involved being a lot of pictures in the book (plus I'm a perfectionist). I used a printer in Brisbane and then the books were on my doorstep. The hardest and most challenging part is the hard sell, particularly when you already work full time.
Is it true that you support Sea shepherd?
I was always going to donate a page of my book to a charity. I have always supported Sea Shepherd being a lover of the ocean and environmental awareness so it was the obvious fit. I worked closely with Isabel Dow, 9 years old, who sits on the advisory board for Sea Shepherd (with Rasta and Kelly Slater) and we came up with her page to communicate to the kids how important our ocean is and that it is their responsibility as well as the adults to be aware of the issues facing it. She was a hoot and I also had a lot of fun giving a speech and reading the book to a Sea Shepherd fundraising dinner. Bindi Irwin actually went for a surfing lesson that day so Terri told me she absolutely loved it!
Anything else you would like to add?
My book will be coming out in an audio format read by a very well known and respected surfer in 2012 so that is very exciting! All still a bit hush hush. Surfing Australia just brought 50 copies and they love it so that is very encouraging. I just want the kids to be happy and healthy, that is my main aim from this project. And it is a GREAT Christmas present available on my website and comes with a free Sea Shepherd sticker and colouring in poster. The book is also available for fundraising drives where a percentage of each book sold will go to the organisation to improve the health outcomes of children. If anyone is interested to please contact me.
You will be equally impressed when you get your hands on a copy of Sunny and Coco's A-Z of Surfing. If you surf, have kids, nieces, nephews, know someone who has kids or you have relatives this is the ultimate book to get.
If you would like to contact Kelly Smith,
0402 813 958.