Squiggle Tail’s tale
Young author with Burin Peninsula ties writes first children’s book based on father’s story
Not many 17-year-olds can claim to be a published author at such a young age, but Ashley Bonnell is an exception.
Ashley is celebrating the success of her self-published children’s book, “Squiggle Tail.”
She held a reading of the book at the Nan and Pop’s Shop in Lord’s Cove on July 2.
A recent graduate of Holy Trinity High School in Torbay, Ashley told The Southern Gazette following the reading that the idea was inspired by her father Lester Bonnell, who grew up in Taylor’s Bay.
“(It is) a story that my Dad used to tell my sister and I when we were little,” she explained. “It follows the story of a young fish and his mom as they go on an exciting adventure and learn a very important lesson.”
Ashley is donating a portion of the profits to the Children’s Wish Foundation.
“I wanted to be socially aware,” she said, “and that’s something that’s a major part of my life, the Children’s Wish and my cancer…”
In 2005 Ashley and her family went on a Disney vacation courtesy of the Children’s Wish Foundation.
“When I was two and a half I was diagnosed with fourth stage neuroblastoma, which is a terminal form of childhood cancer,” she explained.
Ashley spent 11 months in the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital where she had a bone marrow transplant, as well as undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
“After 11 months, I was cancer free and I’ve been in remission ever since,” she said.
Ashley has not dismissed the idea of sharing that part of her life in a book.
“Unfortunately, it is something that a lot of families go through and it’s something that there should be more literature on it,” she said.
Birth of a business
Ashley took an entrepreneurship class in school in which students had to develop a product or a service to market.
“Because my Dad used to tell my sister and I this story it just came to mind as something I could make into a product, so I asked him if I could write it and illustrate it and he agreed, so I spent all my Easter break doing the book,” she explained.
Ashley printed the book at a print shop in downtown St. John’s.
From the entrepreneurship class, she took the book to the YMCA Enterprise Olympics where she finished third, as well as to the Town of Torbay’s business competition where she finished second.
Ashley said in the book, just as her father did when he would tell them the story, she left the ending open, “so there is room to expand if I wanted to do that in the future.”
She has also contacted some publishing companies to see if she can hook a deal.
Ashley is working on some other material, both in the children’s range and the youngadult level, as well.
Burin Peninsula roots
Ashley said that it was her family’s roots on the Burin Peninsula that interested her in holding the reading in Lord’s Cove. Her mother is from Lamaline, as well.
“There’s a lot of family that I have out here, and a lot of them were really impressed by my story, so (Nan and Pop’s Shop owner) Phyllis (Lockyer) contacted me and asked if I would be willing to come out and do a book reading. It is an awesome way to promote my book and I thank her for letting me come out.”
Ashley said that the kids seemed to enjoy the book.
“They seem really happy about the story,” she said.
Ashley Bonnell hopes to continue writing books for children, as well as young adults.