Some stories are more serendipitous than others.
Edwards children's book illustrator Dawn Beacon was sketching out ideas for Colorado-based illustrations when she got a call from her artist representative about competing for a chance to illustrate a kid's book about Colorado.
"It was funny how it all worked out," she said. "I was estactic about doing anything about Colorado.'
And work out it did. Beacon was ultimately chosen to illustrate the book "The Twelve Days of Christmas in Colorado," written by Front Range author Liinda Ashman.
Last month Beacon walked into the Bookworm of Edwards to see if they'd be willing to carry the book.
"It was great timing because we really wanted to have a holiday storytime as successfull as the one we did last year," said Nicole Magistro, the co-owner of the Bookworm. "It just so happens the illustrator lives in Edwards. She came to us and said 'we have a great new book out and I hope you can carry it.' Turns out we already had a stack on our front table. We didn't even know the illustrator was from Edwards, and we certainly didn't know she was a customer of ours. Be we do now."
On Friday evening, the Bookworm will host the second annual holiday storytime. One of the booksellers will read the book and lead the song portion of the book, while Beacon will lead an illustration activity - coloring bookmarks - with the kids. Everyone who attends will be treated to cookies and milk, and Magistro is encouraging kids to "dress in their jammies and get in the Christmas spirit, just like they would on Christmas Eve," she said.
The charming story is comprised of letters from Sophie about her trip to Colorado and all of the things her cousin Zach shows her during a holiday visit.
"It's an adorable book," Magistro said. "It's a play on the traditional 12 days of Christmas, but also has all this Colorado specific content in it. It's not just the song, it's much more layered than that ... it's really two stories within a story."
"Sophie goes to the Great Sand Dunes, she goes to Pikes Peak, the Denver Zoo, the Western Stock Show, all these different places around the state, and writes home with factual information to her parents," Magistro said. "That part of story is great for older kids - 7, 8, 9 year olds; the story the 12 days of Christmas goes along with the song, and is good for toddlers, since it's repetative and counting based.
The book was released in October and has been on the Bookworm's best seller list for a few weeks now.
"It's a great thing to take home if you've had a visit to Colorado, then you can still continue to learn about the places you visited," Magistro said.
Some children's books on the market in the last few years have illustrations that appeal to adults, Magistro said, but not this book. Beacon's illustrations are colorful and lively.
"I think kids relate to them. She pulls things out that kids notice, not the things adults would notice as much. I think it'll pull the kids in - it's definitely focused on the child's experience."
Her animals are alive with human characteristics: Grinning mountain sheep leap around in their enclosure at the Denver Zoo, smiling bears wave at red rail cars climbing Pikes Peak, and a slew of prancing horses dance around
Beacon's favorite part of the book was an illustration she did for the cover --a little girl skis and a young boy snowboards down a snowy mountain slope. She also loves Bertie, a lark bunting bird (the Colorado state bird) that can be found in each illustration in the book.
"But I love all the animals - my favorite is the ram from the zoo. I think he's funny. And I had fun doing the illustration for Leadville, because it was close enough I got to go and take pictures," Beacon said.
Though Beacon has worked on several educational books for kid's, this is her first time illustrating an entire children's book. It took her around six months to do the acrylic paintings for the story. She finished up the project around this time last year. Currently she's now working on another children's book about African lions, a project that just came through this week.
"It's about how friends work together and the main character is a lion," Beacon said.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.