Utah author brings yet another humorous, clever picture book for readers young and old
It was during that time that Reagan had her first book published. It was a children’s book about dealing with sibling loss, inspired by the unexpected death of her son, John, and called “Always My Brother.”
“I had been trying to write kids books all along, so I had all these ideas, and I kind of got a little sidetracked (by 'Always My Brother'),” she said. “So then I was kind of back to my regular path of writing fun books and sending out a lot of stuff. ‘How to Babysit a Grandpa’ just happened to sell.”
Reagan made sure to include a little shout-out to her son and daughter in “How to Babysit a Grandpa” and “How to Babysit a Grandma” by incorporating things they did in the house or with their grandpa. Things that will appear in “Grandma” — such as making sure the shy ducks get food or playing shoe shop — were regular happenings with the Reagan children and a way to honor the memory of her son.
“How to Babysit a Grandma” also mentions the “tallest slide of all,” which is actually a reference to the tall, “scary” slide Reagan’s children played on in Liberty Park before it was taken out. Also mentioned are Utah music group Heart and Soul and the song “You Are My Sunshine.”
Since Reagan isn’t a “girly girl,” she wanted to make sure the “Grandma” and “Grandpa” books were accessible to both boys and girls.
“A girl with grandma, it’s a little harder to do that because the girls want girly stuff, and I’m not girly,” Reagan said. So she kept things such as fingernail painting and makeup out of the book, but she included things such as dress up with ribbons and stickers to acknowledge that there are some girly things that are just part of being a little girl and a grandma.
Reagan made sure to write things such as “If your grandma likes fancy things ...” to acknowledge there are grandmas who might not. It was her way of saying that it’s OK to like and do different things.
Despite the success of “How to Babysit a Grandpa,” in terms of its awards and recognition, Reagan finds her happiest moments have come from hearing stories about children consulting her book as a “reference guide” when their grandparents are visiting, or in instances such as when she accidentally overheard a teacher in a bookstore telling someone how much his students enjoyed her book.
“How cool is that?” Reagan said. “It just warms your heart.”
If you go ...
What: Jean Reagan book signing and storytime
When: Saturday, March 29, 11 a.m. to noon
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English. Reagan will donate $5 per book (up to $500) to Heart and Soul, a local non-profit that brings music and performing arts to isolated people in nursing homes, senior centers, hospitals, prisons, etc. The group’s website is heartsoul.org.
Hikari Loftus graduated from the University of Utah.
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