Sardines and Safety
Julie Davis, Director of Instructional Technology and Innovation at Chattanooga Christian School, self-published a picture book in July. The book, “But What if it Wasn’t a Sardine Delivery Man? The Adventures of Lady Lightning Fingers” is about a little girl, Emma Zoey Malone, who learns the importance of internet safety and being a responsible digital citizen.
Davis decided to write the book because she wanted to teach her young students about digital citizenship and was frustrated with the lack of resources available. So, she decided to create her own. “I really like sharing picture books with the kids when I teach them, because I feel like unplugging and doing it without technology— to help them see the importance of not always using technology all the time for everything, and I just thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can write the book,’” she says. The book’s titular character was inspired by something from her teaching years. “Many years ago, I used to be a computer teacher in the elementary school, back when basically… I was just teaching a lot of how to keyboard, and I would dress up as a character that I called Lady Lightning Fingers and I would race the students to see who could type the fastest. So then I was like, ‘well there’s my character.’”
Davis says she decided to write a picture book because she wanted to be able to reach younger kids. “I feel the younger we start talking about it, the more likely they are to accept it,” she says. “If I go into a high school classroom and you’re already making bad choices, you don’t really want to listen to what I say.” She believes that internet safety is important for children to learn, but also wants to focus on digital citizenship. “Any time you go on the internet or use technology, you become a digital citizen,” Davis says. “And with any place you’re a citizen, there are rights and there’s responsibilities.” The book features discussion questions at the end, to help parents and teachers talk about internet safety with kids.
One thing Davis hopes people will take away from the book is that adults need to take part in teaching digital citizenship. “I want adults to realize that they need to be speaking into these topics with children and helping the children think critically about it,” she says. Davis chose the title because part of the point of the book is that, because Emma Zoey gave out her information to anyone and everyone when she was online, it might not have been a sardine delivery man; it could’ve been someone dangerous who found her information online because she wasn’t careful with it.
While Davis knew from the start that she wanted to write a picture book, she had a bit of trouble finding an illustrator. “I wanted this to be a total CCS thing,” Davis says. “I wanted it to be me writing the book, I wanted the illustrator to be from CCS… I wanted it to be basically for our school and about our school.” She looked at several students and former students for art before finally deciding on Daniel Grissom, who teaches freshman English at CCS. “…I was talking to Mrs. Platt actually, and I was telling her my concept, and she said, ‘Have you seen Daniel Grissom’s Instagram page?’ she recalls. “I opened it up, and I said, ‘He can do exactly what I wanted to do.’ I wanted really vivid illustrations… And he was a teacher at CCS, so it met that need.”
“But What if it Wasn’t a Sardine Delivery Man? The Adventures of Lady Lightning Fingers” can be purchased in paperback on Amazon for $12.