Former County Resident’s Illustrations Published In Kid’s Book
A former Chautauqua County resident has had her illustrations published as a part of a new children’s book.
Cheryl Bielli illustrated “The Boy Who Never Threw Anything Out” which made its national debut on Sept 6. Bielli grew up and went to school in Erie, and starting at the age of 12 spent her summers at Point Chautauqua. She also lived in Fredonia and worked for the Dunkirk OBSERVER from 1986 to 1988. Additionally, she rides her bike in Chautauqua and worked several summers at Chautauqua Institution. Bielli currently lives in the Adirondacks region.
The book, “The Boy Who Never Threw Anything Out” by Margie Peterson, focuses on Tommy, a young boy who gets emotionally attached to everything in his room and never throws anything away. This leads to everything piling up in his room and to many misadventures for Tommy, until no other living thing can get into his room except for bugs. This eventually leads to his parents convincing him to recycle and donate all of his items, which then leads to Tommy finally cleaning out his room.
For Bielli, illustrating and children’s books have always been a part of her life, so illustrating one was something she has always wanted to do.
“I have three kids that are all grown up now, but we used to go to the library when they were little and get a ridiculous amount of books,” Bielli said. “I would always pick some out because I liked the illustrations and children’s books in general. So, illustrating one has always been on my bucket list.”
“I felt like I wasn’t being efficient as a teacher,” Bielli said. “So I got a call from the author in the fall and it felt like the perfect timing.”
The book is published through Crave Press, which is a start up publisher, Bielli said, that also happens to be located in the same area — Berks County, Pennsylvania– as the book’s author, Margie Peterson. Peterson happened to be doing freelance writing on Crave Press at the time and sent in the idea for the book to the publisher, who then accepted it. Peterson and Bielli were friends for a while and she reached out to Bielli to ask about illustrating it.
Bielli agreed to illustrate, saying that she thought many people could relate to the book.
“I think it’s very relatable for people,” Bielli said. “There’s a hoarder in every house. I did things like that. My kids did things like that.”
In her illustrations Bielli added items that stood out to her and that she thought would stand out to others. Two examples are a headless superhero toy, and a chicken which would now be a vintage toy that comes out around Easter, that the main character, Tommy, kept way past Easter. The chicken makes an appearance in every illustration except for one.
At the end of the book Bielli also added a hidden picture page on the second to last page, and a discussion questions page that asks questions both about things in the story and the art, on the last page. Bielli said that parents often are interested and able to find items on the hidden picture page as well.
“During some readings that I’ve done the parents and grandparents will bring their kids in and the kids will be able to find one group of items and the parents and grandparents a different group,” Bielli said. “It is usually the same group every time too. It’s a universal thing, which is super interesting.”
Since the publishing of “The Boy Who Never Threw Anything Out” Bielli has had many people reach out to her through social media or other ways asking for copies or with ideas for their own children’s book. Currently in the works with Bielli is “Henry Didn’t Listen” and “Norton, Newton, and the Nose Fairy”. Peterson is considering also doing another book on Tommy’s younger brother.
Bielli said that she had a lot of fun working on this project with Peterson, and that she was very easy to work with.
“I had fun,” Bielli said. “I learned a lot about my own work ethic. (Peterson) was a great cheerleader and supporter. Her vision was very clear and I had a lot of freedom. She was overall great to work with. I illustrated and worked for newspapers for a long time, but I haven’t gotten to do something like this before.”
Bielli also makes semi-annual trips to the area, and hopes to return in May to do some potential readings at Chautauqua Institution.
“The Boy Who Never Threw Anything Out” is available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Books, and other bookstores.