March 1, 2024
A&E

‘Guac, the Avocado Bird’: A new lens for inclusion

True inclusion looks different for everyone. For Julie Branch-Evans in her debut children’s picture book “Guac, the Avocado Bird,” inclusion means acknowledging our differences and accepting people for who they are.

The idea for Guac, the titular bird, came from a dream the author had about a bird hatching from an avocado fruit. (This picture is taken from the author’s website.)

The book details the story of Guac, a bird who hatches from an avocado fruit. Realizing he doesn’t look like the other animals, Guac searches for a place to make his own. After finding a vacant birdhouse, he settles in to hide away from everyone else, but ends up being joined by various other fruit-based animals who teach Guac that their differences unite them and make them unique.

Branch-Evans, a former technical writer and university alumnae, was inspired to write the book following the birth of her first daughter in 2016 who, at 22 days old, was given a rare health diagnosis and currently lives with apraxia of speech and other developmental difficulties.

“…She (her daughter) learns differently, right? And so, creating fun ways for her to learn and retain information and be creative about that was what really drove me to get back into writing again,” said Branch-Evans. “She learns by seeing, you know, visual, fun, unique types of learning activities. So if you can, you know, write a book and use a book to teach children, that’s really powerful.”

Through witnessing the struggles of her daughter, Branch-Evans’s eyes were opened to the reality of young children with disabilities. The story of Guac reflects the unfortunate reality that it is not always understood that such people do not choose to be different, which can lead to isolation.

The themes of “Guac, the Avocado Bird” serve to empower individuality for those who feel they, like Guac, do not belong. Learning to focus on what people have in common rather than on their differences provides an avenue for understanding and reflects the truth of each and every person, forming a story that holds tremendous value for children and adults alike. 

Even though the book was released only a few weeks ago on Nov. 7, it has already generated a significant amount of praise.

“Guac shows us that we all belong, not in spite of our differences but because of them,” said Caroline Goodwin, a director of Angels of Care Pediatric Home Health. “We all have our own unique traits that make us who we are, which can bring so much joy to others!” 

A press release from Business Wire on the book’s release said, “Readers learn that they can find home, community and belonging when they simply love themselves and others just as they are.”

As a blossoming author, Branch-Evans wants to spread the message of her new book to inspire other children and promote further acceptance.

“I want readers to have fun. I want readers to be able to learn and I want readers to walk away with […]  a vision or a challenge in their mind to accept people’s differences and find what you have in common with somebody rather than what seems to divide us,” said Branch-Evans. “I think right now we’re in such a world, no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, that there’s so many things that seem to divide us. And if there’s anything that I’d like to, you know, have kids or even adults walk away from is focus on what can bring us all together. Not what makes us different.”

Learn more about Branch-Evans and purchase “Guac, the Avocado Bird” at her website: https://www.juliebranchevans.com.

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