Local author, publishes her first children’s book

Local author, publishes her first children’s bookBy LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer “Theo had been tail-tucked and nervous all day,” opens Brooke Chism’s delightful children’s book, Theo’s Day at the Dog Park. This is the first in her series, RidgePets, which is based on local pets and created to “have an encouraging piece of advice or wisdom that children would be able to relate to.” The lesson learned from Theo is not only that friends can help you cope with bullies, but most important, “Don’t be afraid to try new things. Good can come out of every experience.”

This is an unexpected place to find a local connection to Russia; however, the war became very real for Chism because her illustrator is from Russia. She found the perfect illustrator through an artist website called Upwork. After reviewing several illustrator’s portfolios she found Elizaveta Borisova. “Her drawings are so wholesome and detailed, they’re cartoony but they’ve maintained some sort of realism that I just think is so appealing.” They worked closely together through the website’s message board and were quickly able to have the book ready to submit to publishers.

Their next project, Home, has stalled due to the war. “We were in the process of making the cover art for that when everything happened. And because of the war and all the tensions over there, the website Upwork has suspended any works with anyone located in Russia. She and I are still in communication. It’s spotty, but she is helping.” Chism tells us, “She’s just trying to stay out of it. She doesn’t understand why it’s happening and she’s ready for to be done.”

Chism submitted her book to about five publishers and received offers from three. She chose Page Publishing because they would allow her to maintain creative control. It is very important to her that the characters be kept as true to life as possible since they are based on real pets and she was able to keep her own illustrator.

The inspiration for the book came from an actual first day visit to a dog park when she was helping a friend socialize her new pet. She couldn’t help but notice the similarities between children going to school the first day and a nervous pet’s first dog park visit. “It was really interesting to see how apprehensive and frightful he was. He didn’t want out of the car. He fought the walkway to the gate. But then it was the opposite trying to get him to leave. He wanted to stay and then every time after that when we came back, it was really exciting to see how happy he got when he’d recognize his brand new friends.”

During that time her beloved newphew, Jameson, was starting daycare. The similarities became even more pronounced.

A Burroughs graduate, Chism says her love of reading really developed at the school library at Pierce Elementary School. She began writing stories as a little kid. She remembers the first book she wrote and illustrated in a spiral bound notebook. She laughs, “It was called The Cat on the Mat, and it was about pets, too.” When she was 14 she began writing short stories. “That was during the Twilight years so I wrote a lot of vampire stories.”

Her family and friends have been her biggest supporters. “Really without their support, I wouldn’t have pursued it. My family and friends are definitely the backbone of everything I do.” She remembers a teacher at Murray Middle School, Mrs. Harper, who encouraged her. She had assigned the class to write a diary from someone in Manzanar. She wrote about an imprisoned girl who fell in love with a guard. “ I feel like she really encouraged my creativity. To be able to come up with stories.”

Chism has many stories to tell. Look for stories about her four chihuahuas. “I have two genuine Chihuahuas and two that are a little questionable.” She says of one of her dogs, “His story is going to be a story relating to adoption and foster home situations because he was found in a box and he was just very scared, very malnourished. He needed some extra love and care to make him whole again.” Other stories are also brewing, “There are several other dogs and cats and birds that are lined up.”

Theo’s Day at the Dog Park is available at Red Rock Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and Walmart.

Laura Austin Photo: Burroughs graduate and author, Brooke Chism with her new children’s book, Theo’s Day at the Dog Park. This is the first in her series, RidgePets.

Story First Published: 2022-04-01