Local author explores individuality in children’s book


A children’s book can be more than just an avenue for children to let their imagination run wild, but it can also have a message in the words that the entire family can take away.

That is exactly what Jennifer Nestor had in mind when she decided to write her first children’s book called "Jane Escapes to the Jungle of Individuality."

According to Nestor, not only does she hope the book gets families reading together but she also believes it has the potential to get them talking even after the book is closed.

“I hope that children and families gather the notion that it is ok to have transparent conversations with your kids when something appears to be off or makes them sad,” Nestor said. “I love how Jane is honest with her mom about not wanting to go to school because she was being bullied. Her mom listened and reassured her, instead of dismissing her feelings.”

As the book’s name implies, readers will follow Jane as she explores the “Jungle of Individuality,” which every child can relate with because everyone has their own personality that makes them who they are, and childhood is the first opportunity to discover that.

“There's also the anxiety component where she goes into this dream state on the bus because she's experienced this trauma and she learns how to love the things that make her unique by visiting the ‘Jungle of Individuality,’” Nestor said. “This concept is to reassure children that no matter what unique quirks you may have, those attributes are what make you who you are, so they should be embraced.” 

Nestor lives in St. Augustine but grew up as an only child in Philadelphia before moving to Florida with her mom when she was 10 years old.

She went through a lot of transitions during those years and her childhood experience comes across in Jane’s adventure in the book.

“The more I think about this, the more I realize that Jane is highly relatable, even in my own childhood situations,” Nestor said. “I experienced a lot of bullying myself, and especially after moving to Florida. It was tough to cope with what was happening, and I think that those memories, coupled with new experiences of being a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida for some time, and hearing other parent's stories about their kids getting bullied truly inspired me to write a book that allows this main character to learn the value of her own individuality and take a negative situation and turn it into a positive one.” 

Nestor developed a love for writing when she was a child as she started writing poems and song lyrics to help her jot down the feelings that were in her head.

However, despite doing other writing, such as short stories and blogs, this was her first children’s book, and she was fascinated with the process of it all.

“This has been a process of learning how to take that writing skill and evolve it to where the words could be understood by children, while still making an impactful story,” Nestor said. “The process has been a lot of fun, and my favorite part so far was getting to map out the scenes in my head through illustrator notes and working with Victoria Mikki to see those images come to life. The first time I saw Jane the main character, I was amazed by how much she looked like what I had imagined.”

Anyone interested in learning more about Nestor or wanting to purchase the book can go to jennestorauthor.com for more details.