Story last updated at 1/16/2013 - 2:16 pm
If you're looking for a serious case of the warm-fuzzies combined with some fun facts about animals, "I Would Tuck You In" by Sarah Asper-Smith might just be a great book to pick up and snuggle with the kiddos to read.
The book is illustrated by Smith's husband, Mitchell Watley, and started with one piece of art - an octopus. The thought that graces the piece is, "If you were an octopus ... I would grow eight arms to hold you."
Asper-Smith said the book started with several pieces that were "romantic in nature."
"They're all northern animals," she said. "I replaced a few and added a few to make it into a children's book and then my husband did the illustrations."
The books not only feature cute phrases tying together one species love for their child, but also a fact about the animal.
Asper-Smith loves hearing about children's reactions to the story.
"There have been some great conversations that have started because of the animal facts," she said. "What would you do if you were a different animal? That kind of thing."
The process of writing the book took about a year, but it was in "fits and starts."
"I like to do multiples in my artwork and I like to educate as well," Asper-Smith said. "So when I come up with an idea like the octopus, I ask myself, OK, so what are some more animals so that I can turn this into a series?"
The book, which was released in December, has done well. In December, Amazon.com editors picked it as a "Best Book of the Month," and reached #550 in book rankings.
It nearly sold out in its first week, and its publisher ordered a second printing. Asper-Smith also cites good reviews from Booklist Magazine, Juneau Empire and Anchorage Daily News.
"I've always loved children's books, but it was never something I planned to do," Asper-Smith said.
She done lots of different arts projects and she felt like children's books were the appropriate vehicle to tie them together.
Asper-Smith is self-employed as a museum exhibit designer, and helps small museums all over the state.
"I use lots of different skills: Writing, illustration, designing in 2 dimensions and 3 dimensions...," she said. "I love it. It's a wonderful job. In my spare time I have wonderful friends, I love to cook and experiment with food, I love to read, have a puppy named Pea-pod. My husband and I started cross country skiing together."
Asper-Smith has written one other children's book, "Have You Ever Seen a Smack of Jellyfish," which is an alphabet-style book for numbers of animals.
Watley works for the state as a graphic designer and paints in his spare time. Prints of the works in the book were available at Alaska Robotics Gallery in Juneau, but have sold out - though more prints have been ordered.
"I Would Tuck You In," is available at all the area bookstores and Alaska Robotics.
Sarah Day is the editor of Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.