‘Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures: Vail’ launch party slated for Friday evening | VailDaily.com

‘Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures: Vail’ launch party slated for Friday evening

Local authors Elyssa Pallai and Ken Nager are hosting a launch party for their second book, "Eli and Mort's Epic Adventures: Vail," today at the Bookworm of Edwards.
Elyssa Pallai and Ken Nager|Special to the Daily |

EDWARDS — Vail is big and skiing Vail Mountain is big fun, especially when seen through the eyes of a fun-loving child … and all children are fun-loving, and so are moose, when it’s Mort the Moose.

The children’s book series “Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures” began with their kids-eye view of Beaver Creek, and continues with Vail.

Co-authors Elyssa Pallai and Ken Nager are hosting a launch party Friday at 6 p.m. at The Bookworm of Edwards.

Pallai and Nager’s books depict Eli and Mort and their adventures in a mountain town through the eyes of local children. When Eli catches big air, Mort, Eli’s stuffed moose, does what he does, just bigger.

Think Calvin and Hobbes catch big air, and you’ll get the idea.

While in Vail, Eli and Mort learn to snowboard, pan for gold, star gaze and just about everything else the place has to offer.

“When you do a reading, the local kids say, ‘I’ve been there. I’ve done that!’” Pallai said.

The first in the series sent Eli and Mort to Beaver Creek, and it was released during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Kids-eye view

When Pallai and Nager met, she had written two novels. Nager suggested that a children’s book might be a nice change of pace and that there were really no children’s book based in the valley.

Thanks to their kids, research was a breeze.

Also, that’s how they came up with the idea of having local kids do the illustration.

Eduardo Taj, an illustrator in Mexico City, sent several samples of what he thought Eli and Mort should look like. Pallai and Nager tested them with local folks from 60 years old to kids, and they all picked Mort the red moose.

That inspired them to have local kids do the illustrations, while Taj still handles Eli and Mort.

“The kids illustrating the books make all the difference. We have kids use the illustrations on their college applications. Some say, ‘you’ve changed my life.’” Pallai said.

DIY, because they can

At today’s launch party, the kid illustrators will be there signing the books “because they’re the stars of the show,” Pallai said.

It’s all self published.

“I’ve started lots of different businesses. Some are successful; some have failed miserably,” Pallai said.

Nager is in design, Pallai is in marketing, so they can do it themselves. The longest time is waiting for the illustrations by the kids, but they can turn a book in about three months.

“This is pretty much our 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. job,” Pallai said.

When the Beaver Creek book came out, they had a garage filled with books. Sales have been brisk enough that they can afford a storage unit, so they can go back to normalcy — a garage packed with so much other stuff they can’t get cars in it.

Most of the money goes to local charities. For this book, the money goes to the Education Foundation of Eagle County.

The books are written in an ABC style, as in, “N is for nighttime ski,” and “V is for Vail Village.”

They’ll add books for Steamboat, Breckenridge and Aspen by Christmas. “Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures, Vail” has been translated into Spanish. The Spanish version will be available in July.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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