I recently wrote and self-published my fist children’s picture book. As a self-published author, I also act as my own booking agent. I was able to weasel my way, I mean I was invited, to read my book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale during pajama story time at our local library. I was pretty pumped that I was able to find adult-sized bunny pajamas and slippers (don’t judge).

I know a few children’s authors who are a bit nervous when faced with reading aloud to a live audience. I used to teach sixth graders, so nothing scares me! I was definitely pumped to share my book with kids and their parents.

Although authoring a children’s book has always been a dream of mine, I have to say that the whole experience has been surreal. I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that my book could be sitting in someone’s lap at this very moment, and that my words might touch them in some way.

Anyway, back to the library. I was sitting in my rocker, awaiting the arrival of my captive, I mean enthusiastic audience. A few pajama-clad kids began to amble in and make their way to the carpet squares arranged before me. From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the whirling dervish as he bounded into the room. My book was propped up on the table next to me, and he zipped right to it. Clutching it to his chest, he stammered, and struggled to find the words fast enough, “I want to take this book, I want to, I mean, can I, please borrow this book from the li-bary today?” “I really like those pictures”, he said.

So, I leafed through the book with him, showing him the best parts. I explained that I wrote the words and that Kevin drew all of the pictures. “I want to be an illustrator when I grow up.” I told him how wonderful that was, and I told him he could do that for his job one day. “I am working, I am trying, I have been doing really better at coloring inside the lines at school.” At that, my heart dropped. All I could think to blurt out was, “You know, coloring in the lines is really overrated. The best part about being an illustrator is you get to make your own lines, and you color them however you choose.” Although he was only 4, my words seemed to find him, he got it.

My mind immediately began playing a Harry Chapin song, Flowers are Red. If you’ve never heard the song, you really should give it a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6viDG7Qp_-U/

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
I’m paintin’ flowers he said
She said… It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one

And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

I have to say, the whole encounter with the little boy was pretty awesome. I am not an artist, but writing and publishing my own book/s certainly gives me the luxury of coloring my words in or outside the lines, and most of the time, coloring inside the lines IS overrated.