Acorns, Bees, and Cheddar Cheese

Such is the name of my rhyming book of ABCs. As a professional nanny, I read a shit ton of alphabet books. Lots of them rhymed, and most of them used the same words to represent each letter. A is for apple, B is for ball, and so on, got so monotonous, I started making up my own. As an artist who will automatically draw whatever I’m talking about with a child, I simply taught kids more words to alleviate my own boredom. “B is for balloon…banana…boat…anything but ball!” Drawing was a huge asset to being the caregiver and teacher to dozens of preschoolers over my career. Actually, when I was the supervisor for a bunch of grumpy, old insurance agents, they seemed to like my dry erase board art, too…despite themselves.

So, during those baby naptimes, I took it upon myself to draw up my own ABC book. I did make a point to choose more unusual words to represent each letter, but I didn’t realize really how unusual until I read it aloud to my now-wife for the first time.

“Yes, that giraffe has a girdle on.”

I loved the individual illustrations, but am not a fan of the formatting I did on for the book itself. I created my own font with my handwriting, and – while it was a good idea – the end result wasn’t satisfying for me. I won’t be re-doing this one, but it was great practice, and I sold all 100 copies I ordered, so it wasn’t a loss.

The Golden Pinecone

The Golden Pinecone is a story about a little girl, named Poppet (my own childhood nickname), who finds a pinecone on a walk in the woods, and loves it until magic turns it into gold – just in time for Christmas. I created the illustrations to echo certain simplistic styles of the ’50s and ’60s, with black lines and basic colors lain just outside the lines. I had visions of screenprinting the copies myself, using gold paint for all of the yellow parts (I actually still want to do this, someday), but I went in for CreateSpace – a site that provided a free ISBN and distribution on Kindle and Amazon, in exchange for holding your book file hostage. Here is the cover art:

Poppet learned that love can create a special kind of magic. This book exemplifies a typical, feel-good children’s story, with a dash of fantasy. I was working as a nanny for four children under 4 at the time, and wrote and illustrated the solid black line drawings while the babies napped. I found a beautiful font, and did the layout with Photoshop. The whole project came together like a twinkling waterfall of moments, falling into place perfectly.

I had moderate DIY success with this book, locally, selling over 200 copies at various events, shops, and just word-of-mouth networking. I got great feedback, and even had a woman who owns a dance studio in Topsham design her winter recital around the book’s story – complete with 4 year-olds dressed like dancing autumn leaves and squirrels. It was an honor, and totally adorable. I have an unfinished script for a children’s play based on the book, as well.

My plans are to completely recreate the illustrations, and publish a second edition. I would love to have this completed in time for the 2020 holiday season, but time is squeezy, and we shall see. I’ve had that goal for a few years now. I definitely don’t want to let the story die, having so much potential. It is only available for sale through Kindle right now, as CreateSpace was sold to Amazon/Kindle, and the edition they have for printing on file is flawed.