Sage Advice From a 35-Year-Old Bookmark

Remember the very first time you ever won a contest? Like, EVER? 

For me, it was during my second grade year at Ridgeview Elementary in Liberty, Missouri. Every kid in the school was given a slip of paper and asked to create a bookmark design. I sat at my desk and brainstormed for thirty seconds or so, which probably felt like a really long time. And then I was struck with an idea. 

My sweet little creative mind conjured up a visual gag along with a punny headline. “Lean over and reach for a book” with the Leaning Tower of Pisa next to a library. It was creative gold! I imagine it took me three to five minutes to finish my concept, which also probably felt like a really long time. I dropped my bookmark onto the pile with my classmates’ submissions and forgot about it. After all, I was late for recess.

A few days later, an announcement came over the classroom loud speaker. The principal, Mr. Aubrey, declared that the first place winner of the school-wide bookmark contest was second grader, Tim McCanna. I was shocked! And excited! And proud! Enough copies of my bookmark were made so that everyone in the school could have one. It was my first time being published, in a way.

Many years later, I would work in advertising as a graphic designer, crafting headlines and combining words with images. And now that I’m a children’s author, it all starts to make sense. Of course my first message to the masses would be to READ! (If only I’d had a Twitter account in 1979…)

So, as we celebrate Picture Book Month 2015, take the advice from my 8-year-old self. Instead of reaching for the remote, lean over and reach for a book.