This month, two books I co-authored and illustrated with my son, were published and became available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and many other stores across the country. This has been incredibly special and meaningful to me, to say the least. Not just because it feels great to see the product of our hard work out there, but mainly because this was a family project — one that my oldest son and I built together. We created Noah's Ark originally as a baptism gift for my nephew Kyle. And now we get to share it with a whole world of babies and toddlers.

Now that the books are out, I'm often asked how this all happened. And, how did my then seven year old contribute to these books, landing his name on the cover as a co-author. 

In 2015, my sister-in-law chose my husband and I as Godparents for her son Kyle, who was then barely one year old. I wanted to give him a cool baby bible or baby bible story. But see, I'm picky. I didn't really like anything I found out there. Not only do I have a certain aesthetic when it comes to design, I also happen to be a mom who started reading books to my kids even before they were born. When my boys were babies and started paying attention to what I was reading, I couldn't help but notice how certain books just seemed to get a better reaction from them. These weren't always the books I thought were the greatest. They were not MY favorites, but there was something about those books that got their attention. So I psycho-design analyzed them, just like I had psycho-design analyzed Mickey when I was a designer for Disney. Certain design elements like shapes and colors, and of course SIMPLICITY seem to attract little ones. I decided to make a book myself. My goal was to be able to see this book through the eyes of a one year old. I wanted Kyle to enjoy it. 

As I started working on it, my seven year old, Owen, became interested in the project. He wanted to help. So he started drawing ideas for spreads. And it so happens that his drawings were directly in tuned with the style I was going for. They were actually even better than what I would've come up with on my own. Exhibit A:

Noah's Ark board book. Sketches by Owen Gay (age 7). Final art by his mom, Susana Gay.

Noah's Ark board book. Sketches by Owen Gay (age 7). Final art by his mom, Susana Gay.

What adult draws waves like that? I loved it. I loved the waves, I loved the shape of the ark, the simplicity of the animals. I loved the way he was able to simplify a scene to its essence. He was able to accomplish exactly what I wanted. Owen was also able to tell me the story in his own words, the way he remembered it. We adults are complicated people. We tend to overthink things. Owen was an amazing asset in getting these stories to their core from every angle. At the end of the day, we didn't create Noah's Ark, with the goal of getting adults, a publisher, or store owners to like it. We wanted our one year old nephew, Kyle, to like it. 

Kyle was getting a bit antsy waiting for the table at his baptism lunch, so we pulled out his gift. 

Kyle was getting a bit antsy waiting for the table at his baptism lunch, so we pulled out his gift. 

Owen holding Kyle

Owen holding Kyle

Inside cover on Noah's Ark original mock-up

Inside cover on Noah's Ark original mock-up

Two years later, I'm happy to say that a publisher, and stores ended up liking it too, allowing us to share our version of Noah's Ark with many other children. Noah's Ark also became the start of a little series of biblical stories Owen and I have been developing over the last year. In the Beginning, which tells the story of creation, is now available. Jonah and the Big Fish will debut Fall 2017; and a fourth book is now on the works.

Ella, age 2, naming and pointing at everything on In the Beginning. "mommy and daddy" for Adam and Eve :)

Ella, age 2, naming and pointing at everything on In the Beginning. "mommy and daddy" for Adam and Eve :)

Thank you Owen. I left my dream job to be with you, and you have now become an amazing partner on the start of a new job. One I love more than any other. 

And thanks to all my friends and family who have been incredibly loving and supportive on this new adventure. Thanks to my friends at Worthy Publishing for believing in our books, and for all your hard work in making them a reality.

Noah's Ark and In the Beginning are now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other retailers, including your local Target store. 

Posted
AuthorSusana Gay