Needham’s own Jacky Lamenzo, author of the children’s book ‘Addy Wants to Fit In,’ with illustrator Eddie Martinez.
By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Having a picky eater can be a struggle for many parents - and for kids, as well, for whom the pressure to try new foods that they may not like can feel overwhelming.
In her new book, “Addy Wants to Fit In,” Jacky Lamenzo explores the relationship between children and food that is so familiar to so many families.
“Addy Wants to Fit In” follows a young ant named Addy on her quest to try new foods, along with her parents’ attempts to convince her that new foods are not scary. The inspiration to write the book came from Lamenzo’s own life.
“I was a very picky eater until I was 23 years old. I had a pretty life-changing experience when I went to teach in China for a year,” she explains. “At the first dinner I had, I tried everything on the table! When reflecting afterward on how I was able to try everything, I realized that it was the first time in my life that no one knew me as a ‘picky eater.’ I decided to become a health coach to help others with this issue. I wanted to write this story for children to feel less alone if they are struggling with trying new foods. I wrote this book because I needed it as a kid.
She also wrote the book for parents who may struggle with the fact that they have a picky eater.
“I truly wrote this book to give parents a new perspective on what can be a very frustrating issue,” she adds. “I wanted them to understand what their child might be feeling when they aren’t always able to express why they’re having such a hard time with new food.”
Writing the story was a fairly easy process for Lamenzo; her personal connection made it easy to write Addy’s story. “The easiest part was feeling into the main character, Addy, because she was me. I wrote about my own emotions and fear trying new food so that others could understand how she (and many children) felt.”
The hardest part came when it was time for Lamenzo to pick a name for the main character of the story. “The hardest part was naming the main character. I wanted an A name because she’s an ant, but did a lot of brainstorming until I landed on Addy. I felt like it was a good fit,” she states.
Lamenzo hopes that children and parents both come away with different messages after reading the book. “For kids, I hope that it takes a weight off their shoulders. They can see that Addy was able to have her own big moment trying something new when she was ready. I want kids to feel like they’re not alone, and that it can be fun and exciting to be brave,” she says.
As for parents, she hopes that they come away understanding their children a tad more than they did before. “I hope parents gain a fresh perspective on eating. Often, children can’t communicate how they’re feeling, so ‘I’m not ready to try it’ comes out as ‘I don’t like it.’ I hope parents can understand that some of the common tactics don’t always work, and that their child will do better without pressure on the situation.”