On the weekend of Sunday, September 11th, the Kerrytown BookFest at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market was alive with readers and writers, young and old, meandering and browsing through the tables, listening to authors’ panels and enjoying the exhibitors’ fare. An annual, free event, the Kerrytown BookFest celebrates those who create books and those who read – and highlights the Ann Arbor area’s rich heritage in the book and printing arts, while showcasing their local and regional individuals, businesses and organizations. Check out the two books below for some local kid-friendly books.
GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA is a wonderful book by wife-husband duo – author Kristen Remenar and illustrator Matt Faulkner – about a Groundhog torn between doing his job and pleasing his friends. February 2nd dawns, and Groundhog sees his shadow. Six more weeks of winter! Half his friends cheer. The other half groan. Groundhog wants to make them all happy, but it seems impossible. Besides, Groundhog doesn’t control the weather- he just predicts it. That’s not how his friends see it, though, and Groundhog finds himself the recipient of food and favors as bribes to secure next year’s result. What a mess for poor Groundhog. How can he avoid upsetting half his friends?
Wife-husband duo, Remenar and Faulkner, bring their local treat Groundhog’s Dilemma to life
Living in southeastern Michigan with their kids and cats, Kristen Remenar, is an author, librarian, and national speaker on early literacy; her husband, Matt Faulkner, is an award-winning author/illustrator of over 35 books for children. GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA is their debut picture book together available through Charlesbridge Publishing.
The author and illustrator appeared at the Kerrytown Bookfest and talked about their process working as a husband/wife picture book team, showed some of “Groundhog’s Dilemma’s” original art and shared why they love creating children’s books: “We love to tell stories- both in words and pictures. It’s something we’ve done for as long as we can remember. And, honestly, to say that we love to tell stories doesn’t really cover what we feel about the process of creating,” says Remenar, “It’s like saying “I love to breathe!” or “I love to eat chocolate!” These are essentials, right? For us, making stories and pictures is essential. Just like breathing and chocolate.”
“This year, I will focus on my second published book, Giddy-Up, Buckaroos, which just came out in March – it features a sibling pair with vivid, ‘wild west’ imaginations, and a bit of Spanish vocabulary,” says GIDDY-UP, BUCKAROOS author Shanda Trent, who has lived in Ann Arbor since 1984. “They have their own rodeo, barrel racing around potted plants and lassoing a cow. Well, a cat, actually, but don’t tell the Buckaroos.”
Giddy-up, Buckaroos was inspired by Trent’s friend’s kids. One night, just before bedtime, “she messaged me that her house looked like a tornado had blown through.” According to Trent, the image of a dusty desert image popped into her head, so she messaged her friend back: “Go tuck those little tumbleweeds in.” Thus, a children’s book was born.
Shanda Trent says that she sat down and wrote the first of many, many drafts of the story, originally titled “Tumbleweed Twin” – and won a mentorship through SCBWI-Michigan (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), through which she had the privilege of working with mentor and fellow Michigan author Rhonda Gowler-Greene. Shanda Trent shared her book with excited children and their parents, alike, at the KerryTown Bookfest – and stayed long after to sign for autographs!