Former Te Awamutu woman Sarah Akroyd is the creative mind behind the new children's books teaching little ones the importance of gratitude, friendship and change.

Now based in Ōhope, Akroyd is best known for her quirky illustrations of creatures and wildlife. Her most recent illustrations have brought two children's books to life, What Are You Grateful For Little Bug? and her most recent release When I Metamorphasize!

Writing and illustrating a book has been a life-long dream of Akroyd's ever since her Pōkuru School teacher Pam McPherson planted the seed during a class activity when Akroyd was seven.

"She would often let us write these wee stories and then publish them into a book," Akroyd said. "She's the one that started my dream of wanting to write a book."


Following in her teacher's footsteps, Akroyd also became a primary school teacher and teaches at Apanui School in Whakatāne.

Akroyd's students played a huge role in the books.

The books' messages were inspired by her students and the lives they lead. The children also looked at their teacher's notes and drawings.

Being so close to the children, Akroyd noticed how busy their lives were.

What Are You Grateful For Little Bug? was published early last year and followed a little bug around the planet while teaching kids to slow down and find appreciation.

"I see the kids lead such busy lives, especially after school, but I also know they just like to talk about the simple things sometimes, like the rain or the trees and leaves. This book shows them they can slow down and appreciate the little things," Akroyd said.

Her second children's book, When I Metamorphasize! was published late last year and taught kids about change and friendship.

Akroyd had noticed her class loved to see the changes in nature and caterpillars.

While Akroyd was proud of achieving her dream, she admitted the process of publishing was a long road. She wrote and illustrated What Are You Grateful For Little Bug? around four years ago but was stumped on what to do with it.

When she decided she wanted it published it was a slow period of going from publisher to publisher, only to be turned down.

After many rejections she knew she had to find a way, and decided to go with a smaller local publishing firm, Atlantis Books in Whakatāne.

"It was really hard to get the book published but I just needed to make it happen."

Having the books written, illustrated and published in her own local area allowed the community to join in. When people see or buy her book they know what it took to get that book on the shelf.

"Every single sale I worked really hard for and when people buy it they know that they're buying someone's dream," Akroyd said.