The concept for the WantsToBe series began as illustrator, Carol Stevens told bedtime stories to her youngest son. He'd pick two animals and she'd make up a story about them, ending with a mashup of the two animals. He loved those stories and they turned out so hilarious that Stevens wanted to share the story with more children.
She approached author Valerie Harmon, and together they are writing and illustrating stories about animals who imaginatively solve their problem with lots of hard work and sacrifice.
Most people find the ending very unexpected. There are many children's books that end with a "Be happy with who you are" message. And those are wonderful books with a valuable message. But the WantsToBe series is different.
These books are about working hard for a goal and achieving it, and becoming more than we were before. True, none of us turn into a different animal after achieving a goal. That's just fun imagination at work. But when we work and sweat over a goal, we grow into a person that's no longer the same. And that's a good thing--we want to be improving and progressing and solving problems. And we want our children to do the same. Plus, mash-up animals are funny!
"Lately," explains Harmon, "I've been working through some hard things and I've had the refrain, 'Try it for a week' and 'I'm not going to quit now' echo in my head." Surprised that she's been affected by the book's message herself, she says, "I hope this message touches our young readers like it has unexpectedly touched me."
Stevens and Harmon hope that this series of books make the children in your life laugh, and perhaps teach them a deeper lesson about struggle and achievement. Enjoy!
The Girl Who Wanted to Be an Artist
Graduating with a BFA in Illustration, artist Carol has worked as a graphic designer and free-lance illustrator while raising 5 children.
With the WantsToBe series, she combines her distinctive style of clean lines and vibrant colors to these stories about animals who persevere.
When her youngest was born (10 years after her 4th child) she needed some new material for bedtime storytelling. The concept for the WantsToBe series came from those busy times as a Mom with teenagers and a toddler. Carol's youngest son would choose two animals, and she would make up a story about one animal turning into a mashup of the other (sorry if that just gave away the ending)! Her son enjoyed the stories so much, and they were so funny, that Carol decided that this concept would be her first picture book series.
The Girl Who Wanted to Be a Writer
Valerie graduated with a BA in English, and in addition to being a writer and mother, she freelances as an editor and teaches writing and Shakespeare on the side.
When Valerie read aloud her first draft of The Snake Who Wanted To Be A Horse, and it made her children laugh, she knew she was on the right track. She hopes this book series inspires children everywhere to set goals and work to accomplishing them--and most of all, that they find it funny too.
She has seven children and lives in the Western Unites States.
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~Valerie and Carol