With three young daughters of his own, Holderness, New Hampshire-based children’s author and EPA compliance expert Bennett Evans has seen first hand the power of reading.
“I vividly remember sitting in my first daughter’s room reading her a book before bed,” he said. “It was a nighttime ritual and doing it consistently helped build a good bedtime habit and keep the kicking and screaming to a minimum. Somewhere before a year old, after months of reading nightly, Veera was making connections to the objects or animals she was seeing in the books we read. I could tell the sound she was making was a ‘moo’ because she picked it up from me, and she was also appropriately assigning ‘moo’ and other sounds to the things in the books we read. So one night the idea came and I was questioning in my head where this type of book was for snowboarding?”
He was so inspired, he actually pulled out his phone and wrote himself a note, as not to forget the idea. That note would kick off his foray into his own children’s literature career, with a series of books called “Grommet Goes…” So far, he’s released three hard-cover books, “Grommet Goes Surfing”, “Grommet Goes Skiing”, and “Grommet Goes Snowboarding”.
Evans is an avid snowboarder and surfer himself, so he’s been able to take his own knowledge of the sports and translate it to easily digestible stories kids can relate too. But he gives his own daughters most of the credit.
“It would have never come to mind if not for them,” he said. “Seeing how smart they are and what they remember so early on in their lives. All these influences from my kids and reading tons of books help shape the stories. I also try to tie in some real nomenclature from the sport because of this. For example, ‘Let’s survey the swell and give our arms a rest’ because anytime I ever surf I’m exceptionally gassed the whole session. Lastly, after reading all three books to my kids with the images the first time, my middle daughter Ruby responded so perfectly to it. On one of the ‘Grommet Goes Snowboarding’ pages, Grommet is standing up, half geared, getting ready, and the line is ‘Snowpants and thick socks keep you toasty and warm. Lace up your boots as we enter the storm.’ When I read that with the image she said cutely, ‘Where da socks at? Where da boots at?’ It was a perfect response because she was engaged, looking to make the connections, and I had the image right there to point at the boots and tell her the socks were under the books!”
In order to create Grommet, a round-headed “critter” with pink ears and a huge smile, Evans turned to the freelancer.com, where he found Agnes Rokiczky among some 40 illustrators who responded.
“I liked Agnes’ style, she had done one children’s book before, and she was the only one of the three who had skied before, so that was the choice,” Evans said. “It was on a whim and really worked out. She put together a great set of images to go with the words and was really easy to collaborate with.”
Evans also used the website to find an editor, just one of the many steps that went into self-publishing his creations.
“It was an awesome process but had a ton of work,” he said. “I attended an Independent Publishers of New England conference and learned a lot there. I met a publisher who did a small amount of consulting for me. While that was happening I was assigning the ISBN numbers, setting up my business, copyright and trademark work, building the website, securing the socials and web, etc. I also researched and partnered with a printer. I looked in the US, Mexico, and China. Unfortunately there are a very limited number of ‘board book’ printers in North America, so Shanghai it was. Everything came over on a cargo ship, so that was quite a stressful learning event dealing with the shipping companies. The books landed in September this year. I packaged them at home and also built the upcycled ski shelves for in-store displays.”
One of those displays is housed at Darkside Snowboards in Killington, the only shop in Vermont to carry the book. Copies of “Grommet Goes” books are also available for $9.99 at 6 locations in New Hampshire including Zimmerman’s Nashua, Ken Jones and the SBJ shop in Manchester, Norm’s Ski and Sport in Keene, Rodgers and Lahout’s in Lincoln, Plymouth Ski and Sports in Plymouth and also Sportshaus Snow and Water in Bridgton, Maine.
“I love to support local so buying them from a shop who bought them from me is a great thing!” he said “I have a website and would love to ship them out if one of our core shops is not in striking distance.”
To grab a copy online, visit grommetgoes.com.