With its eco-social theme and audio version included in the cover as a surprise, Youngen Finds Her Song, An Inspiring Adventure from The Heart of Nature, brings to life the joy, hope, and inspiration, young readers have as they journey with a small bird and learn about the wonders of the natural world and humanity’s place in the order of life…
By Maria J. Andrade
Deep in the heart of the forest in a land called “Dreems,” where everything is possible, a small bird family lived high in an Oak tree. Within the nest, beside a newly hatched egg, lay a baby bird. She could not see clearly for her eyes were not fully open and her wings were too delicate to fly. She was so small that she barely chirped and her parents called their fledgling “Youngen.”
At first Youngen could only see shadows but day after day her vision improved until colorful shapes appeared which surprised and enchanted her. The very first images she saw within her own nest were her parents who seemed large and wondrous birds! They had strong wings and soft under feathers, which warmed her every night. During daylight they would leave to seek out bits of food, which they placed in her hungry, open beak. In the nest in which she hatched, her parents had left small brown twigs, bright green leaves, and brilliant marigold flowers. They told her that the green leaves and marigolds helped protect her from germs and parasites, which might harm the health of a fledgling. 1
As time went on Youngen could see that beyond her nest was a fascinating world. Everywhere she looked in the forest there where birds large and small chirping, singing, or flying silently back and forth across the sky. Some scampered quickly far below her on the ground. Others perched on top of trees or on branches and watched her from a distance.
Youngen began to sit on the edge of her nest every day to feel the soft breezes and to watch the world of birds go by. One day she noticed a large, old, owl that stared at her from across a large, gnarled tree.
“His name is “Rufus,” her mother told her, “He is a friend of the family.2 He has helped raise many young birds. He is also very wise and knows many things.”
Rufus lived with a blind snake that kept his nest clean of larvae; with the snake’s help all the chicks in Rufus’ care grew strong and healthy. 3 Youngen had never seen such great, round, eyes as those, which now looked at her. Her parents said,
“Since the day you hatched, whenever we were away, Rufus has watched over you.”
“Hello,” said Youngen to the owl as she flapped her wings quickly, her feet lifting off the ground.
Rufus noticed that Youngen was often at the edge of her nest and that her wings were stronger. Youngen’s parents had tried to gently nudge her off the nest a few times with the admonition “do not look down.” At such times her small wings fluttered nervously but Young did look way down and saw the great depths beneath her. With heart pounding madly, she quickly flew back onto the edge of the nest, grateful to touch solid ground, her head dizzy with fear.
“How do you do?” asked Rufus.” You certainly have grown quickly and now it appears you are ready to learn how to fly.”
“No thank you!” answered the young bird nervously as she looked down again.
Rufus called from his tree, “Whoo, Whoo told you to look down?”
The little bird chirped back quickly. “But what if I fall?”
Rufus continued, “Wise birds always look ahead to their destination, trusting their wings and the wind, which guides them.”
Can you tell us a few things about yourself?
I was born in the middle of the earth, Ecuador, South America. I was initiated into Andean Shamanism which I used for self healing and the healing of others in the private practice I had for 35 years.
I retired as a licensed psychotherapist in 2018. Because I had a degree in English literature I wrote books for adults and children which I hoped would inspire them to know how special each person is and to find the sacred within. Therefore, I have written five books for children and five books for adults. I hope to publish two more books in 2022 and 2023.
Describe the types of books you write without using genre headings e.g. you’re not allowed to just say I write fantasy!
I write books that take you into worlds of magic, wonder, and hope. They have humor but also drama, and they usually have happy endings. I like to leave the reader with an experience of how love is powerful and able to change the world.
Describe your why. Tell me what motivates you to write.
I write to entertain, and open a reader’s curiosity about the world around them. My stories include the values of family, friendship, and community and the beauty of the natural world. Behind it all is the profound world of spirit which is the source of all life.
Fancasting – Did you have particular actors/actresses in mind for the starring roles in your story?
In my last fiction novel, Defiance and Redemption, A Lifetime of Unbroken Bonds, there are three women who form a bond of friendship which helps them not only overcome some big challenges but together they create a new world for themselves and their children. I don’t have any particular actresses in mind but they would have to be Latina because the story takes place in my country of birth, Ecuador. Also, the personality of each woman would have to be true to the story. “Eva,” the main character is fiery, independent, and sensuous. These are characteristics which gets her into trouble but which also help her redeems herself. “Victoria,” her sister, is beautiful but more passive and reticent and puts up with things Eva would not. Lastly, their lifelong friend and side kick, “Marta,” is funny, loyal, but plain looking with glasses. She is determined to find a husband and get married. The story takes place from 1920 to 1945 so it is a glamorous and dramatic time with the end of one World War and the beginning of another. It is also a time of the roaring twenties and in the forties when women once again got a taste of independence and freedom.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
I think you need to have other hobbies to balance out your time writing. It is valuable to leave the project you are working on and allow your mind to relax and open to ideas without straining or stress.
Spend time with family and friends and take breaks in your garden, or read other works. Exercise, take a walk and then come back to the work.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Youngen Finds Her Song is a children’s book which is not just a fun filled adventure but is important reading for kids today because of our climate crisis and the challenges children are faced with in having a healthy social life. The book also has a lot of information for kids about birds, insects, flowers, as well as astronomy, archeology, evolution. Therefore, I had to do some research and I learned some interesting things! For that reason, I put what I learned in footnotes which you rarely see in a children’s book.
Which writer’s work do you believe most resembles your work?
I think every writer has their own unique style so I cannot compare my work with anyone else’s. However, this is an adventure story and it has some warm and moving parts like those found in Kenneth Grahame’s, The Wind In The Willows. In as much as this is a story that adults as well as children can enjoy, I would say it has that in common with classics, such as, Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White.