Sarabeth Holden is no stranger to bananas and dinosaurs. In fact, with the Sept. 20 release of her sophomore children’s book, Benny and the Bananasaurus Rex, the Halifax-born Inuk author is probably more well-versed in the topics than most.
Benny and the Bananasaurus Rex, published by Inhabit Media, tells the story of a little boy who, with a big imagination and a little help from his anaana (Inuktituk for mother), can be anything he wants to be.
“I hope the readers have a lot of fun with the book,” says Holden, a Dalhousie University alumnus. “I hope that they really enjoy Benny, use their imaginations and are inspired to be whoever they want to be.”
The book features uses of the Inuktitut language, incorporating words such as anaana, ataata and siaq which, in English, translate to mom, dad and grandma, respectively. Holden hopes that by incorporating Inuktitut words, she can help families who use other languages in their homes feel represented.
“There may be someone who at home speaks another language, but outside of the home is primarily English,” says Holden. “It’s just letting other kids know that they’re not all that different.”
She also hopes the book will inspire young readers to take pride in who they are.
“Being proud of yourself allows you to work towards your goals and helps you believe in yourself,” says Holden.
Holden’s eldest son inspired the “banana-meets-dinosaur” theme, noting her son’s love of bananas as a toddler gave her the idea for the book. Now, he has an increasing interest in dinosaurs. A perfect combo.
“When my older son was two [years old], he could not get enough of bananas,” says Holden. “At the same time, there are two points in your life where you know a lot about dinosaurs and it’s when you are four years old and when you have a four-year-old. So, it was just a lot of dinosaurs and a lot of bananas.”
Holden shared that her children have continuously inspired her story ideas and that inspiration often strikes at the most random of times.
“I recently wrote a manuscript because of my two-year-old, who has fought sleep for two years. I was telling him a story one night and he fell asleep. This kid had never fallen asleep like that before and I thought, oh my goodness, I need to write this down,” she says.
Being an entrepreneur alongside her writing work, Holden acknowledges the importance of seizing opportunities and persevering.
“I think having that hustle is how I always describe it. Keeping your eye out for opportunities and just going for it,” states Holden. “As a writer, you can hear ‘no’ a lot. But it’s really important to keep on going because you’re going to get one ‘yes’ for a fraction of the ‘no’s that you get. Every time you get a ‘yes’, that’s a win.”
Holden plans to release more children’s books soon.