Solana Beach Author Writes Award-Winning Children’s Book About Her Frenchie And His Lessons About Bullying

The story of Henri, a French Bulldog, and his experience learning how to deal with bullying, is winning over hearts here in San Diego and around the world.

“Henri and the Magnificent Snort”, a children’s book authored by Samantha Childs of Solana Beach, was released June 27 to rave reviews, and has already collected numerous awards.

The book follows the story of Henri, a French bulldog, and how he deals with being bullied by his dog friends after he moves from New York City to San Diego.

Read more about this story below…

Henri and the Magnificent Snort

Henri’s journey of love and self-acceptance

Samantha Childs experienced a remarkable journey of love through her beloved dog, Henri. Having craved a pet of this particular breed for years, her parents gifted her with one on her 30th birthday, filling her with immense joy.

Henri not only taught Samantha about the unique bond between humans and dogs but also helped her develop a profound understanding of self-love and love for others.

Initially, Samantha was clueless about how to care for a pet, but she was astounded by the overwhelming love she felt. It only grew stronger over time.

“I had no idea what I was doing, and I also had no idea that my heart could feel so much love. I could literally feel it in my chest, and it only continued to grow,” Childs says.

Inspired by her own childhood experiences with bullying, Samantha conceived an idea in 2015 to write a children’s book. She decided to narrate the story through the perspective of a community of dogs, led by Henri, who had gained celebrity status with 67,000 followers on Instagram under the handle @henrilefrenchie.

Named “Henri and the Magnificent Snort,” the book chronicles Henri’s journey from shame due to his snorting, to a place of self-acceptance and self-love. Through this heartwarming tale, Samantha aims to address the issue of bullying in a way that is accessible and relatable to young readers.

“The way he embraced life was my inspiration. He was my hero, and when people said that he was the way he was because of me, I felt so honored that they thought that, but I think he was the way he was because that’s just how he was. I was so lucky to be his mom,” she says of Henri, who died in 2018 (Childs was recently awarded a judgment in a negligence lawsuit she filed against a local veterinarian in Henri’s death).

Childs, a resident of Solana Beach and a 43-year-old author, has deep roots in her hometown. As a child, she spent countless hours with her sister delving into the captivating world of books within the children’s section of their family’s independent bookstore.

Recently, Childs sat down to discuss her latest book, shedding light on her decision to tackle the sensitive topic of bullying, as well as sharing her affection for her cherished companion, Henri.

Q: What was the inspiration for this story?

A: “Henri and the Magnificent Snort” is based on a mixture of two true stories. The first is the story of Henri — his personality and unique characteristics, as well as his life in San Diego and New York City. The second story is my own personal story from childhood and my experiences with being bullied. I was bullied when I entered a new school for middle school. Like Henri in the book, I was called names, chanted at, cut off by my old friends, and felt so alone. For me, it lasted a year and half, and then I transferred out of the school. And like Henri in the book, after all I’d been through, I was shocked in the future when people wanted to be my friend. For so long, I’d believed that something must be wrong with me for people to have treated me that way. In the book, I tell the story of what happened to me and how I felt through Henri and his experiences with the other dogs.

Q: Why did you want to address bullying, specifically?

A: Bullying and kindness are such interesting and important and consistently relevant topics. Through the lens of a bullied French bulldog and this book, I wanted to explore the beauty of our differences, how we all belong, and how we are all lovable. I think that these ideas are so important for both how we view and treat other people and also for how we view and treat ourselves. Bullying can take so many forms throughout our lives, both as children and adults, and both externally and within our own minds. And why in the form of a children’s book?

There is something very powerful about children’s books. When you grow up with a book, the story becomes a part of you and how you view the world. I want this story to reach children and to help them. The book’s messages are ones that I needed to hear when I was young and being bullied. They are messages I need to hear today. I still love reading children’s books now, as an adult, too. There is magic and depth in the form. Children’s books can portray a message so quickly, and in a way that sticks in your mind.

Q. Looking back, what would have been most helpful to your younger self, in addressing the bullying you experienced?

When I went through bullying, I felt a huge sense of shame. I thought something was fundamentally wrong with me. I think a lot of that came from isolation. It would have helped so much if someone had stood up for me or stood next to me.

I think of one incident, when I was in a study hall, and the entire class started chanting “Egghead” (the name they called me because I have a big forehead) while I sat at my desk, starting at my homework and trying not to cry. The
boy I’d had a crush on was in the class and chanting it too. No one did anything. The teacher didn’t do anything. I walked to the front of the classroom, asked for the bathroom pass, and went to the bathroom and bawled. It was so hard.

Sometimes no one stands up, or it takes a long time for someone to stand up. That’s when I hope that outside messages, like the messages in this book, reach people. I hope that this book helps encourage people to stand up for others that are being bullied, even when it is hard.

And I hope that it helps people who are being bullied to know that there is nothing wrong with them, even when no stands up for them at that moment. They are not shameful. They are lovable, and life has challenges, and things will be ok, and they will come out the other side even more beautiful. And they might be able to help others because of what they went through.

Q: Can you tell us more about Henri?

A: Henri had the most positive, upbeat, sweetest, goofiest personality. He was endlessly entertaining and endlessly lovable. He had the most soulful, beautiful eyes. He would look at me, and I would feel his love. He had a famous Frenchie howl and he did countless funny things. He would snort to me when I talked to him. He would sniff people’s eyes. He would army crawl around the carpet. He would do Frenchie zoomies (running in circles). He would sleep in the diamond of my bent legs.

Henri and the Magnificent Snort

Q: In your book’s acknowledgements, you thanked people for their support following Henri’s passing and your efforts to promote animal rights. How did Henri’s passing, and the negligence lawsuit that followed, influence your approach to telling the story of “Henri and the Magnificent Snort”?

A: Henri’s death and the subsequent lawsuit was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. When it happened, the rough story of “Henri and the Magnificent Snort” had already been written and most of the artwork had been completed. However, for a long while, I did not know if I was going to publish the book. When I had written the book, I had also thought that Henri would be with me as I did readings and book signing tours. I was also really struggling with my grief and simultaneously dealing with the trauma of bringing a lawsuit and doing what I hoped would protect other animals from Henri’s fate. Interestingly, sometimes the words from my book helped me go forward. I remember during a tough time during the lawsuit, looking through the draft of the book at Henri on his soapbox and reading the words I’d previously written, “He was going to hold a rally to share what was true, and help others benefit from all he’d been through,” and thinking how my life was now like the book and now it was me, standing up for Henri and other animals. So, I kept pushing forward and, eventually, I kept pushing forward with the book, too.

henri the french bulldog storybook

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

A: Choose love over fear.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the concept of how everything you think and do either stems from love or from fear. And that all you have to do, in any situation, is chose the thought or action or perspective that stems from love.

Chose love over fear. I love how it all boils down to that.

Q. What’s been challenging about the work of creating Henri and the Magnificent Snort?

One of the challenges that I faced was learning to trust myself and follow what I felt called to do when I was being given lots of conflicting advice. I was told not to make the book rhyming. I was told not to have the dogs talk. I was told not to go into the project with my own illustrator. I was told to make the book shorter. (I actually did cut a lot out but not nearly as much as I was told to cut.)

Often times I was given opposing advice. If I listened to everyone, I wouldn’t have been able to write a single word. You can tie yourself into knots trying to do things perfectly or trying to please everyone. And it will take the joy out of it. What I am loving now is being complimented on decisions I chose to do that I’d be specifically told not to do. It feels really nice having listened to myself and having my choices resonate with people. It feels like a connection
with my authenticity, if that makes sense. It’s like a wink from the universe.

Q: What are some of your favorite passages from the book?

A: There are quite a few! Here are a few of them:

“Our differences are special. They’re our gifts to be shared.
They shouldn’t be shameful or a reason to be scared.
Of everything you could be and everything you do,
The greatest thing of all, Henri, is simply to be you.”

“The words you tell yourself are the worst words you’ll ever hear.
Henri had tamed his inner bully. Now he had nothing to fear.”

“If you’re ever feeling worried that there is something wrong with you,
remember Henri the snorting Frenchie and know that you are lovable too.”

Highly recommended!

My daughter, who also has a Frenchie, couldn’t put this book down! It’s wonderfully written and illustrated, and teaches important lessons in a beautiful, entertaining way that children can relate to.

We highly recommend it!

For more info and to purchase the book, visit the website here.

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