A Holly Hill resident has taken the adventurous delight she found in exploring the woodlands and pastures of her childhood and packaged it in a children’s book she wants others to enjoy.
Julie Sohm is the author and illustrator of “A Walk in the Wide, Wild Woods,” a book she wrote as a Christmas present for her then 8-year-old daughter, Jacey. She had let the manuscript sit on her laptop for more than a decade before finally deciding to publish it.
“The Kindle version debuted on Jan. 26 and the paperback format followed on Feb. 8,” Sohm said.
“It’s just about walking through the woods because those are the woods I grew up in,” Sohm said.
“Jacey was being read lots of stories and fairy tales and stuff. I just thought, ‘How many people don’t get to enjoy the woods and are put off by that?’ You know, they hear about the wolf going to grandmother’s house, or how scary the woods are. So I just wanted to do a fun book like that and just for her,” she added.
The older her daughter got, the more she began to think about other children who didn’t get to enjoy going outdoors.
“I thought it would be a neat book to let others enjoy instead of just sitting there on my laptop,” she said.
The sights and sounds of deer, owls and other animals who call the woods their home are among the things that are shared in the book, which Sohm described as a bedtime story for children ages 3 to 8.
“The main characters are Jacey and her mama. It was a book for Jacey, so I just kept it as that. Also, we’re at Granny’s house and Bopa’s house, which is what we called my dad. So their names are still in it because people call their grandma and granddaddy different things. So I just kept it as that,” Sohm said.
“Some of the pictures in the book are actually of my mom and dad’s log cabin. It’s one of the first pictures, and other pictures in it are taken from trail cams. I adapted them and illustrated them from those pictures of actual animals that were there taken from a neighbor’s actual trail cam. So as far as the pictures, I just illustrated them from those pictures,” she added.
Sohm, who grew up in Hopkins, is no stranger to the outdoors.
“Hopkins is where our family property is. When we’d go up there, Daddy just really wanted the kids to enjoy and have a connection with the land. So we’d go up there and walk through the woods and check the bluebird boxes, just things around getting outside,” she said.
She added, “With so many kids today, the parents are sitting there on their laptops and on their cell phones and the kids are on theirs. And they’re not connecting, not getting out and enjoying the environment together.
“They’re not walking and talking together. Reading a book together is something they can do whether they’re on their laptop and downloading and reading it together, or, you know, by just reading to the kids themselves.”
It was Sohm's grandmother who "always told me if you teach a child to love to read, they’ll never be bored," she said. "The best gift you can give to your child is your time. So read to them and let them spend time outdoors. It’s important."
Jacey is now a 22-year-old who her mom said has grown to appreciate that the love of reading and writing was instilled in her early – along with an appreciation for nature.
“Jacey likes to read, she likes to write. She’s actually now a tutor in the writing lab up at Wofford. She graduates in May,” Sohm said.
Sohm will hold a book signing for “A Walk in the Wide, Wild Woods” from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 13, at the Holly Hill Public Library, located at 8441 Old State Road in Holly Hill.
Her book can be purchased through Amazon at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Wide-Wild-Woods-ebook/dp/B07N32XHKR/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=julie+sohm&qid=1550608369&s=digital-text&sr=1-1-fkmrnull.