Karl Beckstrand never intended to be the author of children's books, but that is what he has become.
"I would get these ideas and images that would just pop into my head and I would quickly scribble them down over the years," he sad. "They came to me.”
Beckstrand, a BYU journalism graduate and resident of Midvale, Utah, now has several successful stories under his belt. He released his two newest books in March: “She Doesn’t Want the Worms” and “Bad Bananas” are his latest attempts to entertain young readers and their parents, too.
“I try to cram in as many clever ideas as possible so that adult readers will stay awake when they’re reading them,” Beckstrand said. “I think kids and adults like clever twists – at least I do – and lots of laughs.”
“Bad Bananas” is a story cookbook about a bruised bunch of renegade bananas. Beckstrand says this book is “for anyone suffering from ‘I’m bored’ disease.”
“I started doodling images of these gang-member bananas, with sticker tattoos, pierced peels, and spiked-hair stems,” Beckstrand said.
He worked closely with illustrator Jeff Faerber, a childhood friend, to create images of this rough-around-the-edges bunch.
As the bananas begin to go bad they start turf wars with bunches of grapes and attempt scary stunts involving a blender.
Still, no matter how troublesome the gang of bananas gets there is always hope for redemption. Even the worst fruit has a chance to turn out well.
At his editor’s suggestion, Beckstrand included several kid friendly recipes in his book. Instruction for banana cookies, pudding, smoothies and muffins all make their way onto the pages of the story. Beckstrand has sampled each of these concoctions and says they are delicious.
“Aside from the humor and the treats, I really like the message that even a bad banana can turn out good,” he said.
Beckstrand’s other offering, “She Doesn’t Want the Worms” is the spine-crawling story of a little girl who faces loads of wriggling creatures.
“I just had this vision of a girl being offered all kinds of creepy crawlies and being un-phased by them,” Beckstrand said. “When the ending came to me – it was so left field – I had to run with it.”
“She Doesn’t Want the Worms” is Bechstrand’s third bilingual book with both English and Spanish text. The book also offers a pronunciation guide.
Having learned to speak Spanish while serving an LDS mission in Chile, bilingual books are important to Beckstrand. He is thrilled with the positive, nationwide response the stories have received.
“A bilingual book can be useful to anyone who’s learning a language,” he said. “The pictures, pronunciation guide and bilingual text all aid comprehension. Not only do young kids get a fun story, older ones can search and count the critters and anyone can use it to increase vocabulary.”
For families working to learn Spanish, this book may be an excellent supplement.
Both of these stories are short and simple. The extra text of a second language or bonus recipes does sometimes leaves the pages feeling a bit cluttered. However, pictures of rebel bananas or sinister spiders will likely draw the attention of young readers.
Beckstrand’s contributions to the world of children’s literature are creative and unique. He hopes his books inspire “fun and laughs, hands-on activities and family time together.”
IF YOU GO ...
What: Karl Beckstrand book signing and recipe demonstration
When: Wednesday, April 20 from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Where: Sunflower Market, 6284 S. State Street, Murray
Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.