When my now 10 year-old twins were around three, I came up with the idea for a children’s book. Before they were born and their genders were known to us, my husband and I often referred to them as “A and B,” “Thing 1 and Thing 2” (after Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat characters), and “Two Peas in the Pod.” From the moment they were born, they’ve pretty much been inseparable—forming a unique, but perfect pair of personalities that complement each other well (even when fighting).
Inspired by my dynamic duo, I jotted down the idea for a whimsical book about perfect pairs (and some trios) we encounter everyday. I ran the idea by my friend (and TD colleague at the time), the very talented designer/illustrator, Vaughn Fender. He was sold on it. He had been a fan of my kids since they were born, and had nieces and nephews who inspire him, so he wanted to help bring the idea to life. We each spent time generating lists of pairs, then narrowed them down to the ones we thought would be the most fun and dynamic to illustrate and appealing to kids. I crafted the kid friendly content and Vaughn created a sample illustration style. After a few adjustments and pair swaps, we were off to the races. Well, a very long race, as this was a labor of love and availability of free time to work on bringing it to fruition was hard to come by.
Finally, in early 2016, we were done. You and Me was ready to share. Designed, fully illustrated, proofread. It was time to print some sample books in hopes of maybe one day finding a publisher. With the help of an angel investor and Renee Jones at Boingo Press in Charlotte, North Carolina, we digitally printed 50 gorgeous, perfect bound copies. Our baby was born.
We’ll skip ahead in this tale to today. While we have yet to find ourselves a publisher, we have had positive and helpful feedback from more than a handful of them who just weren’t in the market for this sort of book at the time. But, at the same time, we have found ourselves a following! Via friends, family, word of mouth, social media and a couple of pop-up shops, we shared and sold all the copies we had on hand. Kids loved it. Parents loved it. Artists and illustrators’ reps loved it. We decided it was worth it to incorporate some of the feedback we received, and print a second edition.
So, with a little courage, a little hustling, and some new connections, our labor of love is on the shelves of a gift boutique in Fairfield, Connecticut and an independent bookstore in Wethersfield, Connecticut, as well as often checked out of my kids’ school library. Plus, we’ve made a home for it on the internet where copies can be purchased and our future book ideas can come to fruition (we’ve got germs of ideas for four more rolling around). And, maybe one day, the right publisher will come across it, and we will be on the shelves of a big box bookstore, too.
By Hannah F
Senior Art Director