CHILDREN’S book Say Hooray was written by Renae Hayward and illustrated by Rebecca Mills and published last month by Fremantle Press.
Hayward used to work in health promotion and said she learned a lot about early childhood and brain development theory which influenced the book.
“So, I wasn’t in a clinical role myself, but I did learn a lot about those early years and early brain development in children,” she said.
“At the same time, as I was writing it, I had a six-month-old myself.
“I was actually living the practical experience of it at the time and watching my baby go through these milestones and having all these first moments.
“I guess all that sort of stuff has influenced Say Hooray.”
At the heart of Say Hooray is celebrating milestones for babies. Each baby is unique and has a different journey, but the book visually expresses this to its young audience.
“One of the big things I learned when I was working in perinatal and infant mental health was just that importance of celebrating babies as individuals and celebrating their achievements and, for their caregivers, to show them so much love and in delighting in them,” Hayward said.
One of the special qualities of Say Hooray is its inclusion of Auslan and one of the babies has a hearing aid.
“As soon as I saw that spread of Baby Jane with the aeroplane, I immediately thought of my kids, who I had taught some baby signs.
“But we communicated that way to sort of give our children the opportunity to communicate with us more easily when they were pre-verbal. And we found for us that that worked quite well.”
Hayward’s husband knew someone who worked in a Deaf Support Center, so the pair got some feedback to make sure the positioning of the hand was correct in the picture.
“Rebecca added the little hearing aid on Baby Jane; I think it’s such a small thing, but there would be parents out there, who are from the deaf community themselves, or maybe have a child who is deaf or who just used baby sign language like I did who would see that in in the spread and sort of go ‘oh, you know, there’s the sign for aeroplane’,”
Mills said the book would be a great gift for someone expecting a baby.
“The idea of families sitting together and reading Say Hooray and celebrating their babies is a beautiful image,” she said.
“I think it’s the perfect book for that kind of thing, especially with younger siblings in the house.
“That first year of life is so overwhelming, but having that reminder as well, to celebrate the beautiful things that happen.”
It is always exciting to have a book you’ve worked on finally published, but Hayward and Mills are already onto their new project!
“So, we’ve just very recently signed a contract for another baby book,” Hayward said.
“And it’s going to be called Say Good Night.
“It’s a book about, essentially, baby bedtime routines, and all the different ways that babies get ready for bed.”
By Ariana Rosenberg
Renae Hayward and Rebecca Mills