I have always been by fascinated by purple grasshoppers, Taeniopoda reticulata . Yes, they are real, and they are native to Central America. They are quite large and docile by nature, with a dark purple, speckled carapace. They are so striking and so unique, you almost think they can’t be real and that is exactly what makes them so special.
The unique beauty and character of this species of grasshopper makes it the perfect choice for children’s book author, Hannah Qizilbash’s picture book “The Purple Grasshopper.” This book celebrates uniqueness, self love, and most importantly, self acceptance. While aimed at kids aged 3-7 years, this is truly a picture book that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves the genre. Illustrator Katie Blakeslee uses deep, rich, vibrant colors to create the beautiful meadow world of the purple grasshopper and her green cohorts.
Using rhyme, the author tells the story of a grasshopper who just wants to feel accepted by her peers. When they turn her away from their fun and games because she doesn’t look like them, she finds a way to make herself green at which point she is happily welcomed into the group. While she enjoys playing with the other grasshoppers, she starts to feel bad because she isn’t being truthful to her new friends, or to herself. When the rain washes away her temporary green color, her new friends see that she is actually purple and they become mad at her deception. She points out that she just wanted to play and belong but that she will no longer let them bully her and that she is actually proud to be purple. One green grasshopper embraces her new friend’s honesty and bravery and acknowledges that they are all grasshoppers and that they all like to do the same things, regardless of their color. At this point, the purple grasshopper realizes that it is important to be yourself, and bravely seek out others who rejoice in that diversity. Such an important message now, more than ever.
Author Hannah Qizilbash
I spoke to the author about her inspiration for writing this book. She is the mother of twins and her kids are biracial. They came home upset one day as they had been singled out on the playground for their uniquely curly hair; other kids didn’t want to play with them. Hannah made up the story of the purple grasshopper “on the fly” to comfort her children and help them to see their curly hair as something to be celebrated. Her kids loved the story and kept asking for her to tell it over and over again, so she figured it was time to write it down and publish it for other children having similar experiences. Hannah always wanted to be a writer and had started many different projects before embarking on this, her first picture book. Once she got started, though, she feels like this book “just told itself.” She started her own publishing company, Nodhi Stories, with the hopes of “putting other inclusive books out into the world.”
While the author plans on further purple grasshopper stories, for now she is working on a new project, a picture book aimed at kids with food allergies. Once again, her children are her inspiration. Recently diagnosed with celiac disease, her kids have had to sit separately at school mealtimes, making them feel excluded and like they don’t fit in with their classmates. I am very much looking forward to seeing this new story unfold and hope that its message of tolerance and embracing differences will reach classrooms and libraries far and wide.
You can find the author on social media and follow the journey of her next book at Nodhi Stories on Facebook and @nodhistories on Instagram.
For a chance to win a signed copy of “The Purple Grasshopper” and a special activity book, see our giveaway below!