In 1996, former First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book, It Takes a Village, which laid out her vision for children in America. If it takes a team to raise a child, the same can be said for birthing a book.
A chapter book for young readers starts with a good idea, but compelling illustrations also are necessary to help the story unfold for a child. Meet the team behind the first Show•Me Adventure Kids book.
Deborah Reinhardt, author
“I’m a native St. Louisan and mother living in west St. Louis County. I’ve worked as a travel writer and editor for more than 30 years. I love to tell and present stories that spark a spirit of discovery in readers. My book, Delectable Destinations: A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Missouri, won first-place in the 2017 National Federation of Press Women’s communications contest. Show•Me Adventure Kids is my first chapter book – and hopefully, not my last.”
Regarding her extensive travels throughout Missouri, the United States, and several other countries, Deborah (pictured below left) says, “Meeting people during these trips has shown me that we’re really more alike than different. Travel fosters an understanding that is unmatched in most other activities.”
Grace Kettenbrink, illustrator
“I’m an illustrator and designer living and working in St. Louis, Mo. I received my BFA from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass. I’ve worked on a variety of projects from portraits to children’s illustration.”
When she’s not working or creating art, Grace (pictured below right) says she’s is in the kitchen cooking up something delicious or thinking about how much she loves dogs. gracemorganart.com
Nikki Leeper, artist
Nikki Leeper is an artist who loves making friends... out of recycled materials. On a good day she can be found sculpting fairies no bigger than her thumb or knitting with toothpicks, and on a bad day you'll find her accidentally super-gluing her fingers together. Her artistic adventures began before she can remember, but they most recently include: studying illustration at Kansas City Art Institute, making puppets with StoneLion Puppet Theatre, fabricating characters for "The Box Trolls" at Laika studios and now Show-Me Adventure Kids! You can follow her and all of her recycled friends on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nleeper.illustration
Q&A with author Deborah Reinhardt
Q: What makes this chapter book different from the hundreds of others a parent can find online or in a store?
A: These stories – yes, I am planning more than one book – will be familiar to families because they are set in attractions found throughout the state of Missouri. I’d love to see families pack these books for their road trips. While they are meant to encourage travel and exploration of Missouri on the surface, if you look further, there are messages of empowerment, too. The characters represent any child, and I wanted children to know that their opinions are important, and that they can be part of a solution to a problem, whether that problem is at school or is much wider in its scope.
Q: Why did you focus on Missouri – presumably the home state for many of your readers – rather than widening your setting?
A: My daughter is grown; she’s finishing her last year in college. But when I’m in a bookstore’s children’s section, so much of what I see in chapter books is fantasy fiction: wizards, super-natural beings, make-believe lands. I’m not knocking this genre, but sometimes, I think we can overlook the beauty that’s right in front of us. Show•Me Adventure Kids celebrates that beauty.
Q: You’ve said the books are intended to, in part, encourage families to explore. Do you think today’s family has much time for recreation?
A: Sadly, no. Well, let me rephrase that: I don’t think they always make the time. I read recently that Americans leave hundreds of millions of annual vacation days unused. Seriously – hundreds of millions! No wonder we’re cranky! I think families are busy, but I also think parents can make choices that would lead to more recreational time with their kids; and I don’t mean shuttling them from practice to practice. That’s not recreation. Visit a park. Take a drive. Go to a farmer’s market. Or better yet, take a vacation and see a new part of your state or country. Just remember to pack a copy of Show•Me Adventure Kids!
The Show•Me Blog
Visit here for family trip ideas and other activities the Show•Me Kids want to share.