Safety Harbor resident Teddi Rae Barber was inspired to write her children’s book, “The Jungle’s Magic,” as a vehicle to help her five-year-old son adjust to his unique adoption story.
In April, Barber self-published the book on Amazon, which hit no. 1 on its first day. The story was created to help families, of all shapes and sizes, bond with a common motif of kindness and lessons from the heart, Rae Barber explains.
Barber is a Tampa native that has served more than a decade in high-profile, health care positions at Shriners Children’s Hospital and Tampa General Hospital.
Currently, she is the senior corporate director at Tampa General Provider Network where she oversees the physician enterprise for mergers and acquisitions and the expansion strategy. Previously, at Shriners Children’s Hospital for eight years, she oversaw all the operations for the international pediatric health care system.
“The Jungle’s Magic” is Barber’s first children’s book written for kindergarten levels and above. The premise of the book is based on the adventures of the protagonist, Landon the koala, as he travels the magical jungle in search of other koalas to call family. On his journey, the jungle awakens and he meets other animals, such as a tiger named Sylvia and a monkey named Ollie, which teach Landon the true meaning of family.
“I know that animals enchant kids because it keeps their attention,” says Barber. “I wanted to write a book to help children understand what family is, love one another and be able to see ourselves in one another. I wanted the book to reflect a lot of joy, and kindness, and bring families together regardless of their appearance and the family structure.”
Barber’s adopted son served as the inspiration for the protagonist of the book, Landon.
With her personal experience with adoption, she wanted to deliver a message of comfort, and hope, to children, and adults, alike.
At the core, “The Jungle’s Magic” is more than a feel-good children’s book, it’s also an encouraging guide for people on how to broaden the definition of love, according to Barber.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I am known for business. I’ve written a few books but never published them. I never expected to write a children’s book, it taught me a lot about myself and it’s been exciting,” she says. “A lot of families have reached out to me, privately, and shared how much it helped with the common motifs of kindness and being together as a family. I’ve gotten positive feedback from families, and counselors, who use the book in their special form for whoever needs it.”
Barber is hoping to have the book picked up from major retailers and even, possibly, a children’s show. She is already working on a second book, a line of plush toys and developing educational concepts around the storyline.