CHS teacher, alumna collaborate on children’s book
The author Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.”
With this in mind, Claremont High School English teacher Kevin Glavin has written a children’s book encouraging young people to set goals and look to the future.
Called All The Things You’ll Do!, the story is written in the form of a song, which 2 new parents sing to their child in celebration of the landmark achievements in store, from walking to counting by 10s to adventures on the road and in the skies.
There are a number of journal pages at the end of the book, in which readers are encouraged to share accomplishment, memories and mementos, with pages allocated for entries made at ages 1 through 10.
Kids are also urged to brainstorm about their future by envisioning dream vacations, creating a savings plan and writing their perfect life story. Mr. Glavin hopes the book will make a keepsake people will enjoy looking back on when they’re older.
“I think it’s critically important to plan ahead,” Mr. Glavin said. “They don’t always have to be big goals, like going to college. It might be just saying, ‘This year, I’d really like to take a trip to Chicago or to an art museum.’”
The book, self-published through Kevin Glavin Publishing, is the first in what the author hopes will be an ongoing series of “Ducks in a Row Books.” While he certainly hopes the book will be well received, Mr. Glavin said his goal from the start has been to write a book to help his own young son.
“Having your own child changes you in so many ways for the better,” he said. “The focus now is on my child, and how I can make things better for him and help him accomplish what he wants to do.”
All the Things You’ll Do! is illustrated by CHS alumna Sarah Grepo, a young person unafraid to reach for her own goals. Ms. Grepo, who graduated from CHS in 2010, is a former student of Mr. Glavin. She has gone on to Cal State Fullerton, where she is pursuing a degree in graphic design. Last year, she visited CHS to catch up with her old instructors, including Mr. Glavin. He calls the meeting “fortuitous.”
Mr. Glavin had previously published a satiric novel aimed at adults called Rockstar’s Rainbow, which was named to Kirkus Review’s “Best of 2011” list. When Ms. Grepo inquired as to what he was going to do next, he answered, “I’d really like to do a children’s book for my child, to inspire him.”
When he asked Ms. Grepo if she knew any illustrators, she took a leap of faith and said, “This is what I want to do.”
“I couldn’t pass up the chance to see how far I can go,” she said. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to be an artist, I’d better start now.’”
Ms. Grepo began brainstorming with Mr. Glavin for what would ultimately become 20 color illustrations to accompany his text. She has created pictures rich in detail and optimism and which celebrate the diversity of our world.
She has learned a lot from the experience, which changed her relationship with Mr. Glavin from that of student to collaborator. She would email a sketch to the author and he would give her feedback and suggest changes. After each final drawing was approved, she scanned it into the computer and inked it via the digital imaging program Photoshop.
While there are a few things she wishes were done differently, Ms. Grepo is satisfied with the work on the book, which represents her first real illustration gig.
“This experience, has really enlightened me about the world of art. I need to get as good as I can,” she said. “The better I get at drawing, the better I can give high quality work to my clients.”
Mr. Glavin is pleased with her illustrations, which he says really reflect the spirit of his book, and with the self-publishing process.
“The classic publishing model takes so long to do, and you don’t have a lot of control,” he said. “If I’d gone that route, it wouldn’t be done now. It can take years.”
All the Things You’ll Do! is available through amazon.com and at Mr. Glavin’s website, allthethingsyoulldo.com. He and his wife are currently working on a song by the same name, which will be offered as a free accompaniment to the book. Ms. Grepo may work with Mr. Glavin to turn her artwork into an animated children’s video.
When you accomplish a project like this, the net result is a boost in confidence. It’s a feeling the CHS team can savor as they ponder their own futures, and all the things they have the ability to do.