Robin Tomlinson is a talented artist and dedicated mother of three. Her passion for uplifting others and speaking positivity into the world has inspired her to write a children’s book
that highlights the way ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
In the following interview, Robin discusses the superhero mindset and how it can inspire action in the work of justice.
1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a mom of 3 kids ages 9, 5 and 3. We live in a small town just south of Calgary, Alberta. I try to keep things pretty simple, but kids make life busy anyways. I paint for fun and I have a degree in drama.
2) What was the inspiration for the book?
It was a mix of many things, but my youngest son is where it really came from. He’s very strong-minded and he made me dress him up in a superhero costume basically every single day all winter. It was a Spiderman costume and it started getting gross and falling apart, but despite that he was still demanding it. One morning I had just woken up, he put it on and I was wondering to myself, "What is it about him that makes him feel like he has to wear this? That he has to be a super hero?”
I was thinking about life and how much each of us has going on – especially as a mother – and how it actually is a battle to do these things every day. Maybe it’s more for some and less for others, but it is. It’s still a choice every day to get up and be a mom, and clean the bathroom or whatever. All of these little things are actually important battles. I was thinking about myself and the fact that I’m a superhero. Because when it’s freezing cold outside and I’d rather be in bed, I’d rather not talk to anyone all day. But I’m doing this.
Everyone is actually a superhero. We’re all fighting our battles. All children are equally precious and beautiful, but I think that some aren’t given that message. There are many different reasons that a child might not, but they all need to hear it. To hear that they are precious and special, but also that they are powerful.
3) What was the process of writing the book like? And can you tell us a bit about the images?
It all sort of came down to that one morning, when the words just came to me. I just went inside and wrote them down. And then I started to realize –I was looking at my art, and it was all connected. It was exactly what I was trying to say in the book, and it was always what I’ve been trying to say through my art.
I called a publisher that same morning and we had a great conversation I asked them some questions, and then I did more specific work and editing. But it was a really, really organic experience.
4) Does it feel very revealing to be publishing a book with your own images?
Do you know who Brené Brown is? She discusses being vulnerable, and if you know me at all, you know that I am not a secretive person. If you ask me something, I’ll tell you. I’m not insecure, and I don’t have any secrets. But there’s something about this story – I think it’s because it’s so innocent.
We live in a world where being cynical, and skeptical, and bitter, is actually tied to intellectualism. And to be vulnerable, open, child-like and innocent – all those simple, beautiful things – is almost embarrassing. It makes you feel vulnerable. What a profoundly strange feeling to have about a children’s book! But perhaps it’s because I know it’s more than just a children’s book. To me, it is a message that I would like to give to anyone. There’s that part of me that feels vulnerable and doesn’t like it, but then I also know from my research that being vulnerable is actually positive. It means you’re on the right track.
5) How do you feel that the book relates to IJM?
Obviously, what you’re doing is super cool. From what I understand, you guys are doing your best to help people in situations where their situation or poverty is keeping them from justice.
When I was thinking about you guys – you probably know that you’re not going to change the world, right now, but you’re still engaging to help who you can, as many as you can, however you can, even if you’re not toppling governments. You’re willing to try your best. And you’re willing to do the little things – a little step, a little change for the little person when there’s a part of us that wants to say, "that little person doesn’t matter.” But love says, "Yes, that little person does matter.”
I love that, and it’s what I want to share. And I feel like that’s what you’re doing. You’re just saying, "No! This person does matter.”
It’s beautiful. And why would I write a book like this for the purpose of benefitting only myself? A book has power, and I hope that it will benefit readers on an intellectual level. But on top of that, if there is any financial benefit (which maybe there won’t be), I would rather benefit others.
6) What do you hope this book will accomplish?
I do believe in the power of a message – long or short, it has power because it goes right inside. Reading a book, you’re ingesting it, and I feel like there’s enough ingestion of darkness going on. It’s so cool to give something that’s positive, and also true. I’m not particularly idealistic about anything, but I feel that any effort to have people respect each other’s humanity is worth it.
And if there is a financial capacity, I’d love to share that. I’m not going to move to Afghanistan and serve soup, if you know what I mean. I’m here, and I’m not probably moving, so what can I do while I’m here?
Everyone has their own gifts that they can contribute to the larger whole.
7) How does someone purchase a copy of your book, and what ages would you recommend it to?
It is available on Amazon
! And as far as age – anybody. I mean, newborns like books. It’s really suitable for any stage because the message resonates.
This article is part of a series
featuring the amazing individuals who offer their time and talents to fundraise for us. Inspired? Get started with your fundraiser at IJM.ca/fundraise.