THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Hailey’s Hats by Donna L Martin

All the books I write for children and adults are special to me, but THIS book is extra special for a variety of reasons.

When my writer’s rights to my debut picture book, THE STORY CATCHER, was given back to me in 2018, it kind of left my writer’s ego a bit bruised. While I understood the business decision this traditional publisher made, it was done at a time when my fledgling book was barely born, and it didn’t really have a chance to make it in the big ol’ world of Kidlit publishing.

During those years, I continued to write my stories but struggled with how to move forward getting my picture book stories out in the world. It took me a number of years of soul searching, manuscript submitting to various agents and pitch contests, and revising, revising, revising to create stories as strong as I could make them.

I told you Hailey’s Hats is special for many reasons. One of them is because it’s a story all about hats and the fact how we dress sometimes influence how we…and the rest of the world…determine our own self-worth. When I was growing up, I always wanted to wear hats.

But I couldn’t.

My head has always been too large for most hats so the idea of one little girl being able to have all the hats she wants AND be able to wear all of them was very appealing to me!

Another reason I love this story is because it is the first of hopefully many more picture books where I take full control of the entire process. THE STORY CATCHER was basically a remake product (even if I’ve very proud of it…which I am!) But Hailey’s Hats was all me from the story idea down to the cover design, color scheme, illustration direction, and production issues resolved in order to give birth to Hailey’s Hats. It was truly my baby from start to finish and I proved to myself that even if a traditional publisher steps away from my work, that doesn’t mean I can’t still share my stories with the world!

The final reason, and probably most important one, is the subtle message I hope everyone discovers as they read this story. Growing up in a small bayou town in southern Louisiana where I was bullied and made fun of my entire time I lived there forced me to grow a thick skin. To learn to ignore the petty, demeaning words tossed my way and to dig deep inside to discover the person I wanted to be. Being poor back then also taught me to live without the pressure of the “haves” society because that was something I definitely DID NOT have.

Hailey struggles with identity in this story. She thinks the person she should be on any particular day is connected to the career hat she wears. But when she runs into a day when she doesn’t have a hat to wear, she struggles with self-worth. Who should she be? How will the world around her judge her?

Here’s the book blurb: “Eight-year-old Hailey loved wearing hats! She had a special hat for almost every adventure of the week! But what happens when she runs out of hats? Who will she be then?

HAILEY’S HATS celebrates one child’s imagination, while challenging ALL children to take another look in the mirror to see the fabulous person looking back at them!”


At the end of the book, I hope children (and the child in all of us) will see that the people we are inside is much more important than the clothes or accessories we wear. And what is inside of each of us lasts a lifetime…


Hybrid published author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna offers occasional BOOK NOOK REVIEWS of great children’s books and offers WRITERLY WISDOM to new and established writers. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Alliance of Independent Authors, and Children’s Book Insider. Donna loves dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

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c/o Story Catcher Publishing

P O Box 27788

Knoxville, Tn 37927

Donna L

Hybrid award winning author; aspiring sketch artist; and 4th Degree Senior Certified Taekwondo Instructor. Host of BOOK NOOK REVIEWS. Member of SCBWI. Mom to fabulous son and adventurer delving into the tricky world of indie-publishing.

2 thoughts on “THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Hailey’s Hats by Donna L Martin

  • March 9, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    Big fluffy hair, big head, big heart. I’m proud of all you have accomplished so far. I know how hard you have worked to achieve it. Now, you and your big hatless idea-filled head get on with the next book.

    • March 10, 2022 at 12:15 am

      Lol…you must be referring to the Afro-hair time of my life…?

      My next picture book will hopefully be out by early Fall of this year…

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!


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