Have you ever read a children’s book that just tugged and tugged at your heartstrings? If not, then you haven’t read Kenny the Helper Bee.
Kenny the Helper Bee is a heartwarming story about a little bee who wants to be good but is pressured by the other bees to be lazy and mean. Along the way he discovers something important about himself and his relationship with God. This picture book is written in a simple, engaging style and coupled with beautiful colored pencil style art.
The author behind the Kenny the Bee story is Kimberly Benham. Kimberly is a daycare teacher by day and an avid writer and maker of beautiful blankets by night. I recently sat down with Kimberly to talk about her book, her journey and her ministry.
Me: Who is Kenny the Helper Bee?
Kimberly: Kenny the bee is me. It’s my story in bee form. I didn’t realize I was writing a story about me until it was done and I realized that I want to be able to tell kids things that no one told me. My mom worked 4 jobs and I was home by myself a lot. I was a good girl, home alone in high school reading books. The world these days glorifies fighting and selfishness. I wanted someone to say that its okay to be good. Even if people are doing things that may not be the same, its okay to do your own thing.
Me: What was your writing process like?
Kimberly: I love to write. I don’t write as much as I should but I love journals. I have an obsession or an addiction to journals. In fact, I love all books, but journals are special. I love encouraging people to write. I think you should just write all the time. With Kenny I had been trying to write and trying to write without much success. Then, I woke up in the night one night and God said you are going to write about a bee. Over the next few weeks Kenny was born and it just flowed out.
If you had told me then that I would write children’s books I would have laughed at you. I never would have thought that my love of children would have smashed with my love of books.
Me: Did you find that writing energized you or exhausted you?
Kimberly: Energized. I was so proud of myself. When writing in a journal you can pour your feeling out, but writing something structured for a purpose is a whole different process. I had started many things and never finished. But having started, worked through it and finished, I was so happy.
Me: What was the most difficult part of the writing process?
Kimberly: Finishing. Not finishing as far as publication, but getting to the end of your story and its done. It’s hard to know that you are completely done. You are not going to add or take away anything and you are completely happy with the product. As a writer everything we write we feel is important so its hard to take things out. I’m the type of person that likes to give all the information.
Me: Why did you choose to publish your book in the manner that you did?
Kimberly: I entered a contest. Whoever wins the contest they would do everything for the book free. I got in the finals but didn’t win. I’ll admint that cried for two days, but I kept the faith. I got an email a few days later that said since I was in the top five they would publish the book for $500. They did everything. It was a great experience.
Me: How did you market your book? What would be your best marketing tip?
Kimberly: Marketing is so hard. I’m on my 3rd car magnet. The first one was Kennythebee.com but people thought I made honey.
To get the word out you have to travel a lot. I did a youth convention in Atlanta. Also, I have been invited to go to Savannah for their children’s book festival to be one of the vendors. I tend to give away so much stuff, though. I’m a helper bee and a giver. But I do talk to more parents and grandparents talking about the different ways the books can be used and other areas. I don’t want it to be just another children’s book. My goal is for Kenny the Helper Bee to change and help kids. I want testimonies. I want life changers.
Me: What are the blankets and how do they tie in to this?
Kimberly: The blankets are part of my ministry. Making blankets to give away to hospitals or kids or people is my ministry. My way of showing love. For people to know that someone is praying for you regardless of if you know them or see them. You are not forgotten in. In that moment of giving a blanket I share a hug. I want to write the books that kids read while they are wrapped in a blanket that I made.
Me: So what’s next for you?
Kimberly: Kenny the Bee is a series. Kenny had to find his relationship with God so that he can help other people find out what God is in their life. He will help tons of little things but I had to concentrate on him first. Kenny is going to be on a long journey. Kenny’s Letter to God is going to be the next book. Hopefully it will be coming out sometime next year.
I also have a beginning Kenny prayer journal for kids coming up and I’m working on a book for teenagers and pre adults – Kenny’s story on their level. It will still be my story but in more depth. This can be a conversation starter. I don’t want kids to feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to. This is a way to start conversations that need to be started.
Me: What would you say to sum up what the Kenny the Helper Bee story means to you?
Kimberly: I wrote Kenny the Helper Bee when I was depressed, when I was hurting. Writing is a way of relieving stress and getting things out of your head. When you are creative and a mom and everything life can get so stressful. Writing will never judge you and you will feel so much better. Trying to turn that into a happy story was not an easy thing to do, but I am making it with God and my relationship with god
I love that people look at me weird when I tell them about the story but when they read the story they are amazed. I know that everyone is not going to like it, but I know that day will come.
Kenny the Helper Bee is a children’s book but I want both children and adults to read it. I want the message to apply to everyone. My dream is for the kids to read it and fall in love and realize that they are perfect just the way they are. I want the same for adults.
To learn more about Kimberly’s ministry and get your own reading blanket and copy of this inspirational book, visit her website at https://KennytheBee.com.
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