Author Hanne Luyten made her debut in 2019 with her book #nietaankindengezinverklappen. In this book, Hanne tells about motherhood in the real world and it was enormously popular among young parents. Hanne could never have imagined that by 2020, she would be writing books for the children of those parents. But when her employer, BABYmatters asked her to write four stories for children, she didn’t hesitate at all.
Hanne tells us all about it:
“I’ve been working for BABYmatters for just over three years now and normally, I’m responsible for writing newsletters and blogs, texts for the website and copywriting for our customers. Writing children’s books wasn’t really part of my duties, but things change fast!
- What prompted you to start writing children’s books?
When the BABYmatters Team started working on the new Yumi Yay brand, we mainly focused on our first product, the night lamps. We wanted to develop night lamps that created an entire world for children, night lamps with a story. We soon decided that the Yumi Yay lamps were going to turn into friends, each animal with its own colour and character. I wrote brief bios for Finn, Tika, Otti and Billy but at that time, I didn’t know those bios would form the basis for actual books.
And then we started coming up with other ideas ... thanks to the night lamps, parents were able to build up a ritual with their child. Can you think of anything better than concluding the day with your child? We’re often so busy that connecting with each other at the end of the day is very comforting for parents and their children. The entire BABYmatters team started brainstorming and soon, we came up with something else to include in that evening ritual: stories! I switched on my computer and started writing ...
- How did you come up with the idea of the books?
First, I thought about the workings of the Yumi Yay characters. What do they like? What do they look like? What does their house look like? What are their dislikes? What are they good at? Once I worked that out for myself, I started looking at situations that children would recognise. So what could I write that would be recognisable to young children?
I thought about my own children and the situations that happen here at home at times. To be honest, everything that was happening right under my nose was the perfect inspiration for these stories! I soon had four typical things, namely not like taking a bath, not feel like clearing up but also the theme of being frightened and playing jokes.
- What makes these books so unique?
Well, the Yumi Yay stories were specifically written for a very young target group, children aged between 0 and 4. You could consider these stories the very first children’s books, so that meant we simply couldn’t forget about the visual aspect ... Colours, shapes, familiarity ... it primes the youngest children so I think that’s the secret of the Yumi Yay books, the combination of my rhyming texts, together with the wonderful illustrations by Didier Quoistiaux.
All Yumi Yay animals were given cheerful colours and very clear facial expressions. Didier drew everything by hand first and then his drawings were digitalised. It creates a very pleasant effect, without losing focus on the animals. I’m very glad about the way in which Didier has brought the stories of Finn, Tika, Otti and Billy to life!
- Do you have a favourite story?
I love all four of them! But if I’m forced to make a choice, I’d go for the book about Otti, the elephant. He really wants to be very brave, but he’s frightened by everything. What I really wanted to make clear with this story that it's okay to be frightened every now and then. Hopefully, Otti can reassure children in that respect!
I hope lots of parents will buy and read the Yumi Yay books to their children and that my stories can be part of a loving ritual between parents and their children. Because that’s the ultimate goal of Yumi Yay, connecting parents and their children. You + me = yay!