LUDLOW — Kelly Partridge has always wanted to write a children’s book. On April 1, after a year-long publishing process, that lifelong goal came to fruition. Her first book, How Owls Become Wise, a story that focuses on bullying and self-correction, is available for purchase online on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart, with 10% of the book’s proceeds to benefit Unify Against Bullying.
Partridge is the founder of the philanthropic clothing boutique Contribution Clothing, which empowers women and supports the community through monetary donations to Western Mass. nonprofit organizations.
“I have been working with Unify Against Bullying since the inception of Contribution Clothing and have participated in their annual fashion show for a few years now,” Partridge said. “Through that, I have been able to witness first-hand the impact that they have made and love how they shine a light on the issue of bullying in our community.”
When she decided to write a book about bullying, Partridge knew she wanted to use it as a way to show her support for the Unify Against Bullying mission. “My hope is that children not only get something from the story I wrote, but can also get the support they need from Unify if they themselves are the victim of bullying.”
The idea for the book came to her one day in March 2020, and she was easily able to develop the plot and her character, Olivia Owl.
“Bullying is a topic that everyone has experienced one time or another in their lives, and I really wanted to bring awareness to it,” Partridge said, adding that equally important is the knowledge that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s okay, as long as they learn and grow from them.
Olivia Owl is an homage to her grandmother, with whom she bonded over owls as a child. “My grandmother and I always shared a love for owls. It was our thing. So when it came time to figure out who and what I wanted my characters to look like, it was a pretty easy decision.”
To bring her story to life, the first-time author teamed up with illustrator Stephanie Hider, whom she met through a children’s book networking group.
“I was drawn to her initially for her work, but she was also able to hold my hand a little throughout the process, which is what I needed,” Partridge said. “It was so much fun to see how Stephanie pictured my characters when reading the story. She and I pretty much had the same vision, so I was thrilled with how the final product came out.”
Partridge said she understands how victims of bullying feel and she hopes that her book can help both those who have experienced bullying and those who have inflicted it.
“When I was in elementary and middle school, I was always bullied for my height,” said Partridge, who went on to say that being picked on for something outside of her control made her grow insecure and that it took her a long time to overcome that and “love that I am a tall woman.”
At the same time, she said she has also bullied people, knowing it was wrong, but, like the character in her story, she did it to fit in.
“We all fall victim to peer pressure,” she said. “I feel that, in most cases, that is where bullying stems from, which is why I wanted to address it in my book. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you. You are your number-one priority in life. If you are happy, then whatever anyone says doesn’t matter. Just continue to be kind.”