9 January 2019
USC graduate Sam Willcocks, aka Samantha Starshine, has a message to share in her first children’s book Annie Ant’s Awareness that she hopes will give children a brighter future and a better world.
The 2017 graduate drew inspiration from the wide range of subjects in her Arts/Science degree, including sustainability, sociology and creative writing to create the book, which is the first in an alphabet series, The Awareness Boosting Collection.
“The story is about a little ant with a lot of big feelings, such as anger, worry and sadness,” said Sam, 29, who received USC Chancellor’s Medal for her high academic achievement and project work in international community development.
As a mother of five, Sam said she had the perfect audience to test out her books, with the younger children enjoying the pictures and rhymes while the older ones liked the deeper messages.
“Each book introduces a new concept for the family, including understanding emotions, environmental sustainability and developing growth mindsets.”
The books will have a companion workbook of hands-on activities and questions to get kids thinking about their futures.
“It’s about encouraging families to do the best they can and empowering people to make choices for a better world,” Sam said.
A quarter of proceeds from Annie Ant’s Awareness will go to support her family’s rural village in Kenya to provide mosquito nets, permaculture education, library resources and supporting a women's sewing group to make reusable sanitary pads.
After the first publishing, funded to nearly 200 percent on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, the book is now stocked by major online booksellers such as Amazon, Booktopia and Barnes & Noble.
Sam, a long-time Sunshine Coast hinterland resident, is developing her own self-publishing company with a friend, to help other authors navigate the process.
“I hope to inspire others,” she said. “Everyone has something to share.” More details about the books are available at www.samanthastarshine.com