By REBECCA HAZEN
Holt Webb, a local photographer from Dade County, has published a new children’s book, “I Know in my Heart.”
“I Know in my Heart” follows the main character Elvie as they learn that being kind and finding something in common helps everyone to understand each other and maybe even get along no matter how different they may have seemed at first.
Webb said that the idea came from a conversation he and his wife had about five years ago.
“My wife and I were talking about the situation of the world and how everyone is fighting with each other. She said something like, ‘but I know in my heart …’ I said, ‘What? That’s a perfect title for a story.’ And I just started writing it,” Webb said.
It took him many years to get the story just right, first writing it without rhymes, and then completely rewriting it when he realized he did want the sentences to rhyme.
“I got the help of some local teachers. My wife runs the library at Dade County High School, and she used to be an English teacher. She helped me proofread and with punctuation,” Webb said.
Mark Nino Balita is the illustrator of the book. Webb noted that having Balita as illustrator was ideal because he has a child that was the perfect age for reading the book.
The illustrations feature characters that are colorful and whimsical. Webb noted that he gave Balita basic sketches, and Balita came up with fantastic ideas.
“I wanted fun characters that were not people, not animals, not monsters, and not aliens. I didn’t want them to have a boy or girl connotation to them. I want both boys and girls alike to enjoy the book in their own way,” Webb said.
Webb also noted that he involved his nieces with the creation of the book, giving them sketches of the characters, and asking them to color them in. One of the designs made it into the book.
Webb self-published the book, noting that he had to do all the work himself to hire the illustrator, layout the pages on a computer, and submit the book to a printer.
“It’s not so much that I want to make money, I want to get this book into the hands of as many kids as possible,” Webb said.
Webb would like to see local businesses sponsor book purchases, and then those books would be donated to local schools, libraries, etc. Then, he hopes to hold readings at those locations.
“I made one Facebook post about it and I’m getting messages from teachers across the country. I have gotten messages from people wanting to sponsor donations. Some of the schools that have reached out to me want to model their curriculum around the lessons in this book. That is awesome. It’s a win-win-win for everyone,” Webb said.
Webb says that he hopes children can better understand the concepts of love and understanding from reading the book.
“Hate comes from fear. Fear comes from not understanding something. If we can take a second and try to understand the things that we are afraid of, or intimidate us, or scare us or make us mad, then we can learn to be more accepting,” Webb said.
Webb continued, “This book has gone a long way to help myself too. Writing this has reminded me that I have to abide by this, too. These are good lessons.”
“I Know in my Heart” is now available to order in all bookstores and online, including on Amazon, in hardcover, paperback and Kindle format. For more information, visit iknowinmyheart.com.