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A Book About Differences and Similarities

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When Erica Bayes’ golden parrot, Noodle, escaped from her Wellington home last year, little did Bayes know that Noodle’s adventure would help spark the idea for Noodle Makes New Friends, an innovative children’s book about accepting each other’s differences.

That memorable incident occurred in May of 2017, when Bayes was at home playing with the golden parrot she had adopted as a very young bird. When Bayes’ Rhodesian Ridgeback jumped on a sliding glass door that was slightly ajar, the door opened. The dog trotted out, and Noodle flew out after him. Even though Bayes put up 500 posters with a picture of Noodle, posted on a neighborhood app, alerted The Palm Beach Post, and organized search parties to look for her beloved parrot, Noodle was missing for four days before she was rescued. When found, she was very ill. Fortunately, Noodle made a complete recovery.

The second inspiration behind the book derives from the author’s work doing yoga with children who have disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, and physical handicaps. A certified yoga instructor since 2009, Bayes found that making children comfortable with their bodies and providing them with the one-on-one acceptance and intimacy they don’t often get was a very moving experience. “With the muse being Noodle coming off her escape and her healing, and being so touched when I worked with these children, writing the book merged all sorts of passions for me,” recalled Bayes.

Noodle Makes New Friends is a colorful, happy-hearted book with the message that kids can learn from and celebrate each other’s individual distinctions instead of being afraid and shying away from them. “I have seen parents usher their children past a child or an adult in a wheelchair and say, ‘Don’t ask, don’t look,’” Bayes said. “I want the conversation to be open. Children are naturally curious. I think when you deny them answers; you’re actually invoking fear. They learn to be trepid of someone who’s different. Instead of, ‘Hey this person might look different from me, but we may actually have things in common and get along just fine.’”

In Noodle Makes New Friends, it’s the first week of school and Noodle feels shy about meeting new people until the teacher has students present a little bit about themselves. Olive Owl has a glittery eyepatch and loves to sing and dance. Lemon Leopard has a crumpled paw but enjoys painting. Mango the Macaw has a fake wing yet plays basketball. Sam the Frog has autism and likes to cook. Noodle learns that although her classmates have had accidents or were born with a disability and look a little different, they’re not scary at all. On the inside, they all have a lot in common and can have a wonderful time together. Available on Amazon, Noodle Makes New Friends is the first in the series of Noodle books. For more information, visit www.EricaBayes.com or email enbayes@gmail.com.

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