The book is centered around fictionalized versions of Smallwood’s dog, Monkey, and Tebbe’s cat, Bug. Smallwood said there are two main messages within the text.
“The first message is: Monkey is a dog and Bugg’s a cat, but even though they’re different, they become good friends and they’re able to go out and enjoy each other’s time,” Smallwood said.
The second, grander message comes from how Bug helps Monkey deal with sadness. IN the book, Monkey misses his litter-mates, and Bug takes him around to meet interesting, helpful people in Hamilton.
“Monkey learns that it’s okay to not to feel okay, and that when you don’t feel okay, you should talk to somebody — it could be your parents, it could be your friends, it could be your teacher, a doctor, or whoever,” Smallwood said. “But, make sure you talk to somebody when you’re feeling down, and when you’re feeling down, there’s a community of people around to help lift you back up again.”
For Smallwood, the topic was important and the proceeds going entirely to the Corn Stand Jam were important, but he also felt it was important to showcase Tebbe’s illustrative talents.
“I wanted to help her get her name out there and get this in her portfolio,” Smallwood said. “She’s an amazing young artist, she’s just amazing.”
While Smallwood wrote most of the text in 90 minutes, Tebbe said it took her about three months to illustrate the entire project, which involved mapping out 36 pages and figuring out where to place the sentences to help the story flow. She said it was the first time she’d illustrated a project like that.
Smallwood said there were other folks throughout the community and even outside it that helped the book come to fruition. He had friends that donated money for publishing costs, the Corn Stand Jam helped raise funds, and even the book’s publisher, Barringer Publishing, cut the publishing costs in half out of support for the message.
Smallwood said he’d love to do more children’s books for local charities, and added that it felt good to complete a project like this for what he called “true reasons.”
“You’re not gonna get rich,” Smallwood said, “but you might make a little bit of money to help a charity, and that’s what I really wanted to do.”
The book is now carried online on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $13. Smallwood and Tebbe will do a live reading of the book for Fitton Center’s Family Fridays on Jan. 20th, 2023.