Children’s book contest wins with “Up Up Up”

Up-Up-Up-CoverIt’s rare for a small book, even a good one, to be able to make so many wonderful ripples, but the right stone in the right pond…

Southwest Human Development is a venerable Valley nonprofit dedicated to improving the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the area’s youngest inhabitants by working with Easter Seals, Head Start and others in more than 40 separate programs. Childhood literacy is high on the agenda.

To raise funds for and awareness of that mission, the staff decided to create a unique children’s book competition. They gathered a team of experts to select, edit, illustrate, print, publish and market a kids’ book that met early childhood education standards. More than 250 contest entrants had their work considered.

I am delighted to say that the resulting “Up Up Up” is a total win-win.

Phoenix author Phoebe Fox and illustrator Michael Hale.

The picture book, authored by Phoenix writer Phoebe Fox and illustrated by Arizona artist and designer extraordinaire Michael Hale, won the 2015 First Edition Children’s Book Contest.

It will be published and on sale this month at local booksellers and at

In “Up Up Up,” a growing crowd of animals is on its merry way to an upper floor apartment birthday party. A not-big-enough elevator threatens their arrival hopes. What to do?

The colorful, exuberant illustrations and simple, spare text about a not-so-hidden problem reminded me of “Goodnight, Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann, and picture books don’t get much better than that.

Professionals from children’s services fields volunteered their time for this program, which will have multiple benefits for Valley youngsters for years to come—a charming book, a One for One donation-with-purchase program, annual opportunities for talented writers, funding for more bulk book purchasing and expanded literacy outreach efforts.

Best of all, parents, grandparents and friends of young children can become part of this virtuous circle of giving by giving them copies of “Up Up Up.”

Love those ripples.

“Up Up Up” book launch

Changing Hands bookstore in Phoenix is hosting a lunch fundraiser with First Edition Author Phoebe Fox and Illustrator Michael Hale, plus special guest Dr. Leslie Ann Barakat, from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 28 at 300 W. Camelback Road. Tickets are $75. For each book sold, Southwest Human Development will donate a book to a child in need.