A story to stop child abuse


Ecuadorian writer María Fernanda Heredia recently participated in the XXXII edition of the Bogota International Book Fair (F.I.L.B.O.), where she presented her new book, “Los Fantasmas Huelen a Vainilla” / “Ghosts Smell Like Vanilla” a story meant to provide support to child readers who suffer abuse at home.

A story meant to make children brave

María Fernanda Heredia, children’s book author, wrote this story for those children who don’t know how to find the way out of the horror they live, and so that the adults around them will know how to support them, how to make them feel brave and teach them to say no.

Children and teenagers from schools all around Bogota went to the book’s presentation; part of the event was moderated by Colombian author Alejandra Jaramillo and the book’s illustrator, fellow Ecuadorian Roger Ycaza.

During the presentation, Heredia spoke of her childhood shyness, which she finally overcame through her writing. Describing her life in prose has helped inspire her, giving value to her words, and the importance of support and friendship.

She also remarked on the responsibility she feels when writing for children and teens, as she recognizes the fact that her stories can sound the alarm when it comes to these types of crime, abuse and loneliness. Heredia hopes that her book, besides being good company, also encourages those who need help to speak out.

Ghosts Smell Like Vanilla

With illustrations by Roger Yzcaza, María Fernanda Heredia’s book aims to alert children to the abuse they may face in their daily lives, as well as the fact that there are good people, and not-so-good ones.

The story covers all that child abuse implies, and aims to help children identify red flags as well as those adults who they can confide in when they feel uncomfortable, since oftentimes, people with dark intentions wear a façade of kindness. The ghosts are those people who take your hand, help you avoid danger and direct you to those who can help.

Published by Santillana as part of their “Loqueleo” children and teens’ collection, Ghosts Smell Like Vanilla tells the story of Manuela, the novel’s main character, who lives through a very strange vacation, befriends a mute ghost, and realizes the fact that the academy her two best friends just joined may not be what they first thought it was.