The 23-year-old Olney resident recently wrote and illustrated her first children's book, "Jessica Hedgehog Becomes Rich."
Tell me about your book.
The book was something I wanted to do as I was looking back on my life and realizing that the things that were most important to me were the people in my life. That was something that I wanted to communicate to children.
What is the plot?
As [a hedgehog named] Jessica is fiddling unconcernedly through the forest, she is accosted by a blue jay who says that because she doesn't value possessions, she'll never get anywhere in life. [He] uses the word "rich," which she doesn't understand. She goes on a quest to discover the meaning of the word.
She asks all of her friends what it means, and to each of them, it means something different, but not in the way that the bird had used it. She gets this multifaceted idea of the word "rich" and how it really should be used by people, in a way that instead of talking about monetary things, it talks about a certain quality of life that should be aimed for by everyone.
Did any particular person or event inspire you?
I grew up military, moving every couple years, and for me, friendships were not something that you kept. It wasn't until late high school and college that I began to understand what it was to have a sense of place and a sense of community.
Why did you choose to relay this message through a children's book?
I communicate with children well -- the way I think about life. Children [approach] life with simplicity and sincerity. To be a well-spoken and sincere adult, one has to keep that simplicity alive all the time, and writing for children is one way to do that.
Why a hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are adorable.
- Rachel Baye