Written by: Nick Rokicki
Call it a business, call it a hobby, call it whatever you like. But my dream, passion, goal in life, is to change the way children treat each other. We need less judging and more kindness and respect. A big part of that, in my opinion, is encouragement. Children need to offer encouragement to each other. As adults, we rarely accomplish this— we’re all far too busy running in the rat race to take a moment and say, “hey, you’re doing a really good job. Keep it up.”
The way I’m going about changing this small part of this giant world? Books for children. I’ve written and published 7 of them now, all with a different positive message. And I’m most excited for my latest one.
Gilbert the Grasshopper is the story of an overly curious insect that finds himself on an airplane. Throughout his adventurous day, he learns about travel and flying… and he also takes an opportunity to share his knowledge with others. This latest book is my first “crossover” book for children that are graduating from full-color storybooks to text-based chapter books.
But the most exciting part of this whole project is the illustrator! Local sixth-grade student Megan Jurek is the very talented artist that gave Gilbert his personality. Last fall, I was conducting an author visit at Regina Coeli Elementary School here in Toledo. After the presentation, Megan’s mother approached me and told me about her daughter’s dream and talents. I got to spend a few moments talking with Megan and her gracious attitude and positive outlook impressed me.
As we continued school visits this year, this meeting was on my mind. We talk a lot about children encouraging other children. So what better way to lead by example than giving Megan an opportunity to directly inspire her peers? I called Megan’s parents, we paid Megan a fee (college fund!!) and she started creating characters for this story.
Now that the work is done, the fun begins! This past weekend, Megan joined us for a small meet-and-greet at a cupcake shop in Westland, Michigan. Seeing her interact with children and adults, talking about her passion of drawing, was just so darn cool. Here is a photo from the weekend:
Today, we visited FOX Toledo Daybreak and WTOL Your Day to talk about the project. Megan was a little bit nervous… but she made an awesome television debut! Here are the videos from today:
Finally, and this is where you come in, Megan’s very first book signing appearance will be held right here in Toledo this Thursday evening. From 3-7 PM on Thursday, April 17th, stop in to Rachel Michael’s Gourmet Popcorn at 5305 Monroe Street. Megan will be there with me, signing books and eating some popcorn. I need your help in telling your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Let’s get a big crowd there to encourage Megan.
Here is the link to the Facebook page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1378650982395760/
And here is the link to the Eventbrite page for the event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gilbert-the-grasshopper-release-party-tickets-11041203537
Even if you don’t need a book, pop into the shop just to tell this talented local artist, “Good job! Keep it up! Live your dream! You can do it.”
Getting encouragement feels great. The only thing better… is giving it.