When it comes to writing storybooks, there is no greater inspiration than Abiline, Texas.
My sister, Chris Koehn, is a baker and confectionary artist and bases a lot of her cake decorating on familiar cartoon and children’s book characters. Imagine her surprise while sightseeing in Abilene, Texas, and stumbling upon The Storybook Sculpture Project. A wondrous collection of whimsical, magical statues carried her back to our childhood when there was no such thing as digital games or social media, or the internet. We had three functional channels on our TV and spent much of our days reading for entertainment, often when we were barefoot outdoors.
“It made me cry,” she exclaimed while describing the artwork and walking me down memory lane. “Reading is becoming a lost skill, and Melanie, you have to finish your children’s books!”
And she’s right. I do have to knuckle down and finish several series of children’s books, including three for her grandson Wiley (my grandnephew who is two and made me a “grauntie.”)
A Huge Claim to Fame
Abilene is officially the “Storybook Capital of Texas” and trademarked as the “Storybook Capital of America®” — another reason to be proud of the Lone Star State. Chris’s photos lit such a spark in my heart as someone who loves reading and writing storybooks. Yes, I absolutely want to help preserve the tradition of creating endearing children’s literature and leave behind this special legacy.
According to the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature at 102 Cedar Street in downtown Abilene:
Once Upon A Time…
Once upon a time, there was a city called Abilene, Texas, that dedicated itself to showcasing the wonders of children’s literature. The city built a museum that was the first of its kind in the nation called the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. Then came Storybook Sculptures of characters from children’s books populating downtown Abilene. The city started an annual event called the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival that grows each year.
In 2015, the 84th Legislature of the State of Texas designated Abilene as the official Storybook Capital of Texas for its efforts to celebrate literary works for children. Since then, the Storybook Capital’s draw has expanded across America. The CALF brings people from multiple states each year, and NCCIL exhibits tour across the nation. To recognize the growing appeal of the Storybook Capital, the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council in partnership with the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau decided in 2018 to trademark the term Storybook Capital of America® with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.https://storybookcapitalofamerica.com/
Our mother read to us as children and got us hooked on books. Thank heavens, for it impacted our career paths — Chris as a cake designer and me as a writer/editor. Mom enrolled us in summer reading clubs and made sure her two little girls were surrounded by lots of Little Golden Books, Scholastic Books, Dr. Seuss, Hans Christian Anderson, The Brothers Grimm, Nancy Drew, and other children’s classics. Our brains synapsed, our imaginations took flight, and we became better students and creatives as a result.
I will never forget soaking up stories underneath trees or in forts made of blankets or even by flashlight late at night (when we were supposed to be sleeping). I hope that kids today enjoy escaping into fantasy worlds as much as we did and begin to dabble in writing storybooks themselves!
So yes, I will be publishing most of my children’s books in 2023 — that’s a promise — and in the meantime will continue editing my author clients’ manuscripts and ghostwriting memoirs and autobiographies, as well as tackling journalism projects in local magazines.
Do You Need Help Writing Storybooks?
I’m here to help you write and edit your books, and can point you to book illustrators as well. Contact me at email@example.com, and let’s get started!