Crazy-Exciting Announcement // I'm Illustrating A Book!
A DREAM IS A WISH...
I have a clear memory from about age two or three, one of very few that I still hold on to about my late grandfather. He and I (all six-foot-something of him, and three-foot-nothing of me) were sitting on my living room floor in front of an Elmo coloring book. He held a red crayon in his hand, which was clearly not built for such a delicate task, and carefully followed the black-lined silhouette of Elmo's body. "You can trace him out like this," he said, and I peered over his arm. "Then," he continued, handing me the crayon, "you can fill in his fur. That's how I color inside the lines." As if he did this every day.
A year or two later, we graduated to the kitchen table, sheets of construction paper stapled together to make a spine, me illustrating each page one by one and grandpa obediently transcribing the text as it should read, according to the tiny author.
When I was a nanny, my girls and I did the same thing together, only this time they drew the woodland creatures and robots and fairy princesses, and I became the dutiful transcriber.
Ever since I was little, it's always been part of The Plan to write and illustrate books someday. And now, I'm thrilled to announce I'm one step closer -- I'm illustrating a children's book!
Long story ahead...but it's a good one, I promise.
INSTAGRAM, CHANGER OF LIVES
About a year ago, I got a message on Instagram from @LittleKidNYC, introducing herself. "Hello," she's Beth, she's a mom and a blogger from New York, she writes about exploring the city with a toddler, she discovered my work via yadda, yadda, yadda, and eventually, "Would you be interested in illustrating my children's book?"
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I get a handful messages like this a year. ("Toot, toot," I guess.) I usually have to decline, for any number of reasons. Sometimes I just don't feel like the project is right for me, but mostly, it's a matter of time and not having enough of it. I'm a full-time songwriter and recording artist, with a stationery business "on the side," (yeah, right), and I'm on the board for a new non-profit trade organization. Naturally, my inclination when I first read this message was to think, Girl, spare yourself the trouble and politely decline.
But something about Beth, and especially the concept of her book, really hooked me. I can't reveal too much about that right now (stay tuned...), but this book will be something special -- interactive, exploratory, and completely unique. That, paired with Beth's experience in the field (writing articles and itineraries for kid-friendly adventures in New York), the impressive amount of preparation and research she'd done, and her obvious whole-hearted belief in this project... I was intrigued.
MEETING BETH BECKMAN
So a few months later, I met up with Beth at the Ace Hotel in New York to meet face-to-face. She walked in wearing gold pleated goucho pants and platform sneakers. Immediately, I was like, "This chick is rad, and we're gonna be friends."
And she was rad. She told me all about how she'd moved to NY with her husband, a novelist, and began designing women's lingerie. (Swoon!) After her son Willem was born, she began her blog, Little Kid Big City, to encourage other parents to explore New York with their kiddos. We talked about our visions for the book, and quickly realized that we were completely on the same page. I just had a feeling about this one... and I knew I had to be involved. I went home all inspired and fired-up.
We talked back and forth about the book for months, and after hearing so much about Willem (our main character), I finally got to meet him when Beth brought her family out to Tennessee. Willem, as it turns out, is the world's tiniest and most devoted Elvis fan, and he was dying to see Graceland. (Be still, my heart.) On their way back from Memphis, the Beckmans made a pit stop to visit us in Nashville and see my preliminary sketches.
Willem: seeing himself in cartoon form // being the cutest kid to ever sport a Fedora hat // pointing out where on the Manhattan City Print his house is // pretending to be impressed by my hand lettering // showing off his Elvis-esque air guitar skills
We all got a chance to spend some time together, first at the Wink Wink studio, and later while Dan and I showed them around downtown Nashville. Beth and I gabbed about our big dreams for the book, and Willem sneakily stole my heart with his general lovable-ness.
During lunch at Pinewood Social, Beth gifted me with a miniature NYC taxi. Of course, Willem and I immediately created a cutlery bridge, through which we passed the taxi back and forth, with only occasional collisions. (I'm a grown up...?) Later, we met Elvis on Broadway on the way to Wildhorse Saloon for some line dancing. Willem, totally without adult persuasion, took my hand in his tiny one and led me out on the dance floor with him. (*Heart explooooosion*) And that, friends, is how I died.
COMING SOON... "LITTLE KID, BIG CITY: NEW YORK"
So, there you have it -- the whole story, thus far, and it's only getting started! The book is called "Little Kid, Big City: New York" (but we don't intend to stop there... hint, hint). You can follow along with our journey right away on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and (once it's live) on the Little Kid Big City Adventure Series website.