Thirteen years ago, Atlanta-based flight attendant Karlene Johnson made the difficult choice to uproot her family and relocate to Atlanta. The move was hard on her family and became the inspiration for her newest endeavor, a children’s novel entitled Anthills and Racing Feet.
Johnson’s mission was to use her book to highlight the difficulties faced by adolescent children that are unexpectedly moved to a new environment, and it is fair to say, “Mission accomplished.” Her family’s very own move from Kingston, Jamaica to Atlanta inspired the story, with the main character being loosely based on her son who was ten years old at the time of the move.
Anthills and Racing Feet is the story of Junior, a 10-year-old boy who leaves his small, island village with his mother to live with her new husband in the big city of New York. In a search for his lost sense of belonging, he experiences many challenges, including feelings of isolation and bullying in school. This is a modern-day tale of a boy finding his inner strength just when he needs it most. Lessons of family, love and support, and the wisdom that can be gained from elders make the story just right for any child going through tough times.
“Immigrant children often face countless challenges when attempting to assimilate into a new culture and find their sense of belonging,” Johnson said. “It’s my hope that the book will spark conversations about the role of families and friends in the lives of children after they move, because those people will be key in helping to make learning about new cultures much easier.”
The title, Anthills and Racing Feet, has several symbolic meanings. In the book, Junior enjoys playing outdoors with his friends on the island village he once called home. They enjoy, among other things, to dig up anthills then watch the ants scatter in all directions. After the move, the ants become symbolic of Junior, who is trying to navigate his way through the obstacles of bullying and isolation that he experiences in his new home. Ants never quit, and Junior learns that neither should he. “Racing Feet” becomes a symbol of his courage and determination.
Johnson plans to share similar messages in additional books written for the Anthills series. She is currently in the process of writing the series’ second installment.
A signed copy of Karlene’s book can be purchased at www.anthillsandracingfeet.com. All signed copies come with a complimentary bookmark. Unsigned copies are available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles online, and www.liferichpublishing.com.