One of the best things about my job is that I have lots of opportunities to meet visiting and local authors. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Bonnie Apperson Jacobs and Terri Mainwaring, the Phoenix-based authors of “They Call Him Grumpa,” about a boy and his grandfather. It’s their newest book—and their first fiction picture book.
Friends for decades, both women—professional colleagues, mothers and grandmothers—have serious educational chops. Having served as teachers, principals and administrators for many years, they know people, young and old; and they know people, lots of them, as evidenced by the very large crowd at their recent Changing Hands book launch. And, very importantly, they know how to get things done.
After publishing their successful first book, “Bee’s Amazing Adventure,” a badly needed flyover of Arizona agriculture for the classroom, under the auspices of University of Arizona’s agriculture extension, they knew they wanted to write more, and have more control over their products. Research led them to form their own publishing company, Yellow Pencil Books.
Currently, Jacobs and Mainwaring wear all the hats at Yellow Pencil. They taught themselves the small-publishing business thoroughly and carefully. The result, so far, has been very promising, demonstrated by the enthusiastic response they are receiving to the colorful and delightful “They Call Him Grumpa.”
“Grumpa,” the mustachioed, slightly rumpled, bunny-slippered patriarch of a large family, often finds himself at odds amid the normal chaos of life in a big extended family. Most of the relatives call him Grumpa when he fusses and fumes, but his young grandson knows he is anything but grumpy when he is able to make his own choices about what and when to do things. The subtle message here, playfully expressed, is about love, respect and taking the time to remember who loved ones really are.
“They Call Him Grumpa” is a great choice any time, and especially for Fathers’ Day, for families with children from 2 to 10 and lucky enough to have grandpas, occasionally grumpy or not.
“Grumpa” will be joined by “Grammy Likes Me Best” very soon, and by a Mitchell the Dog story (see the “Grumpa” illustrations for hints) before long, as Yellow Pencil Books expands its line and pursues a national distribution strategy.
Most of us know that one motivated, dedicated teacher can move mountains. Imagine what two can do. Keep your eye on the Yellow Pencil. It may write a whole new chapter on children’s books in Arizona.