A pair of sisters and their father have published a delightful children’s book designed both to make young people laugh and convince them to treat others with kindness.
It all started about three years ago when Libby Schrettenbrunner and her fellow first-graders at Batavia’s Grace McWayne School were working on a writing project in which the students were creating their own stories and reading them aloud.
Libby’s classmates were so enamored with a couple stories she wrote that they asked her to write more.
Before long, Libby’s older sister, Leni, was getting involved. The girls’ father, Mike, saw an opportunity to spend more time with his daughters, and the three teamed up. More stories followed.
Soon, the trio set the goal of getting the two original stories published.
The three sat around the kitchen table and worked on ideas for the book.
“We all brainstormed the words,” Leni said.
“It just kind of came together,” Libby said.
“We always deferred to Libby,” Mike said.
The result is “Pumpkin Head Tom and Mummy Mary, Part I & II,” published by Fulton Books.
Now 9 years old and heading into fourth grade this fall, Libby said the book has a message for young readers.
“We want them to know to be nice to other people,” Libby said. “For kids who feel they don’t fit in, you do fit in.”
Leni, 12, will be a seventh-grade student at Rotolo Middle School, where she clearly has been receiving a cutting-edge education.
Equipped with a special editing application, Leni used her computer tablet to provide the publisher with a concept for the book cover. The finished product is nearly identical to the illustration Leni created.
Other drawings and sketches, many of them by Mike, were submitted to the publisher, who fleshed out the illustrations.
“They took the book and made it more professional looking,” Leni said. “We were trying to go for a kiddie, spooky book.”
The book is spooky in a friendly sort of way, with smiling faces in the illustrations.
“We told the publisher that we wanted more of a kiddie approach,” Leni said.
In the time since the book was published about three months ago, the Schrettenbrunners have been using the power of their creation to reach out to young people.
Using Zoom, Leni and Libby have conducted sessions with first-grade students at McCleery School in Aurora, and second-graders at Anderson School in St. Charles.
The two girls read their book to the classes, talked about their experience in becoming authors, and answered questions from the students.
They also appeared at a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Geneva, where their book is for sale.
The book also is available at Town House Books in St. Charles, and Harvey’s Tales in Geneva.
Most recently, Leni and Libby appeared at a book-reading event at the Peg Bond Center on the Batavia Riverwalk.
Surrounded by a group of youngsters, Libby sat in a chair like a schoolteacher and read the book to the group, taking care to show them the illustrations after reading each page.
Afterward, parents lined up to purchase the book for their sons and daughters.
Their mom, McKinzie, is proud of their book-publishing achievement.
“It’s been great to see them be so mature about this,” McKinzie said.
In addition to the local stores, the book is available at Walmart.com, Target.com, Amazon, Google Play, Nook and Kindle.
More information about the book may be found on Facebook at tinyurl.com/jty67bjk.