Popular picture book author Rosemary Wells addresses childhood shyness with humor, understanding in new book ‘Say Hello, Sophie!’

Of all the mail that New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Rosemary Wells receives, it was a letter from a young woman that she recalled during a recent interview with the Deseret News. The woman wrote that when she was younger, she felt alone as the only Japanese child in school, but she was encouraged by Wells’ book “Yoko” about a little cat from Japan who also felt alone until she found a friend.

“I only try to give one message, and that is you are not alone,” Wells said. “I just write about childhood situations that I see and make them funny and real and universal.”

Wells, author and illustrator of the Max and Ruby books that were made into a children’s television series for Nick Jr., brings to life a little gray mouse in her new book “Say Hello, Sophie!” (Penguin Random House, $17.99, ages 0-3). The shy Sophie, dressed in a light-blue polka dot shirt and pants sprinkled with bright yellow flowers, can’t seem to get the words “hello,” “thank you” and “goodbye” to come out of her mouth. But, as in all the Sophie books, Wells said, Granny comes to the rescue.

“Granny knows that if you take the grown-ups out of the situation, the child behaves differently and very responsibly and very grown-up,” Wells said. “Sometimes a different approach to a problem with children is…

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