By Melissa Grant
Like many parents, Jan Juc author Stef Gemmill knows that far too many plastic toys can end up in the bin.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Stef has fond memories of being a young girl constantly playing with a hand-me-down doll that was well-loved and well-worn.
The doll had one eye, so Stef took her to the local toy hospital to be repaired. She loved the doll so much that it never crossed her mind to replace it.
The doll is the inspiration behind Stef’s latest children’s book, Toy Mountain.
The book highlights why we should opt for toys that lasts by following the story of a boy named Sam who becomes a toy tester for a toy factory.
Sam, who was growing tired of his toys, ends up with a heap of plastic toys in all shapes and colours.
However, he soon finds himself at the bottom of a mountain of broken plastic toys and needs his family’s help to save the day.
The book, beautifully illustrated by Katharine Hall, highlights the huge amounts of plastic waste generated by consumer culture.
It aims to empower children to take sustainability into their own hands by reminding them that their choices count.
“This book is about putting change into the hands of children and getting them to consider the impact of consumer choices,” Stef said.
“It’s by self discovery that he (Sam) ends up with this huge pile of plastic junk… his treasured toys are at the bottom and he has a change of heart.”
Stef, a mum of a 13-year-old boy, said it was crazy to think about how much plastic toys there were on the market and how that contributes to the amount of waste we produce.
Toy Mountain is Stef’s third published book. The former music journalist has also written A Home For Luna, a story about a cat on a castaway island who makes unexpected friends with a colony of penguins. The story has an underlying message about homelessness and refugees.
Her other children’s book is called In My Dreams, an illustrated story that empowers the reader to embrace their imagination and chase pirates and ride wild winds on the back of a dragon.
“Generally I write stories that usually have an element of peril but they are stories of hope and heart and all have a social message,” Stef said.
Stef has already started her next project, a novel aimed at children aged 8-12 years.
Toy Mountain, EK Books RRP $24.99, is available at local bookstores. Signed copies are available at Torquay Books, Gilbert St, Torquay; Dymocks, Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre; Great Escape Books, Great Ocean Rd, Aireys Inlet.
For more information about Stef, visit https://www.stefgemmill.com