Book Feature: Batty Betty

Article by Gina Malone, The Laurel’s book features introduce regional books and authors. Send information on new or recently published books to

Kathryn Hast found inspiration for her children’s book, Batty Betty, in a drawing by her then three-year-old daughter, Lucille. The sketch came home from daycare titled A Giant Dancing with a Basket. “I loved seeing that flash of imagination,” Hast says. “I decided then that my next book would be about ‘a giant dancing with a basket.’ It was only after delving into it that I began to recognize reflections of larger issues such as bullying and mental health.”

Characters in the book include Abel, the tuba; Eve, the sad banana; and Betty, a giant who dances to her own tunes. The book targets five- to eight-year-olds. “They’re in a place where language’s nuances and rhythms are beginning to make sense,” Hast says, “but there’s still much to learn with the help of teachers and parents. I think they’re also still at an age when it’s perfectly acceptable that fruit and musical instruments would have personalities.”

Hast has an MFA in writing and an MA in education. She moved to Asheville in 2006, married in 2008, and she and her husband now also have a son, Julian, who is nearly two. “Storytelling is perhaps the oldest way to teach empathy,” she says. “Narratives help us imagine other people’s struggles and experience emotions as a reaction to those struggles. The more empathetic we can be—in terms of bullying or divorce or politics, whatever—the better we’re all going to do as a society.”

Batty Betty, September, 2017, children’s fiction, hardcover, $19.99, softcover, $9.99, by Kathryn Hast, and published by LuJu Books, Asheville, NC. To learn more, visit

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