Popular Ringgold author Janie Dempsey Watts and Chattanooga, Tenn., artist Lyn Martin will sign copies of their new children’s book “Pap Pap Goes to Paris, and so does Ricky,” at Hamilton Place Mall on Saturday, July 14.
The event, which will take place on Bastille Day, will be held at Barnes and Noble bookstore from noon to 2 p.m.
Watts says she was inspired to write the book by her 3-year-old grandson’s curiosity when he found out she and her husband were flying to Paris.
“He asked if he could come, but since he was so little, that wasn’t going to happen,” Watts said. “But, I showed him a snow globe of the Eiffel Tower and told him about Paris, and the seed for a story was born.”
During her trip to Paris, Watts and her husband took photos of places they thought their grandson would like. When she returned from Paris, she researched those sights and worked them into a story about a 5-year-old boy who wants to go to Paris with his grandfather, Pap Pap.
“In the story, the little boy, Ricky, is obsessed with the notion of climbing the Eiffel Tower with his grandfather,” Watts said. “After convincing the parents, Ricky and Pap Pap fly to Paris. Setting out from their hotel to go to the Eiffel Tower, they experience everything from cobblestones to croissants, and get to see Parisians with their beloved dogs.”
To bring Paris to life, Watts started her search for an illustrator, remembering she had seen an artist’s post on a friend’s page that had playful illustrations geared to children.
“I went through every one of my Facebook friend’s list of friends and finally saw the same illustration by artist Lyn Martin,” Watts said.
After messaging Martin, Watts found out she lived in Chattanooga and had worked on many children’s books. When they met for the first time, they duo realized they had both grown up in the Brainerd area not far from one another.
Watts shared her manuscript and scene ideas, and Martin went back to her studio to begin the preliminary sketches. Over a period of months, artist and writer collaborated until they were both satisfied with the drawings, color choices, character depictions, and action shown in the book.
“It was so important to actually be able to meet in person over coffee and spread out the drawings,” Watts said.
“It’s rare to work with an author who has such keen insights,” Martin added. “Publishers don’t usually let the artist and author meet. They can end up driving each other crazy. But Janie and I worked great together!"
Since both are perfectionists, they went through several go-rounds until the final proof came together at the end of April, and then the book was published on May 3 by Create Space.
Both Martin and Watts will be at the Barnes and Noble event, and children who attend will receive coloring pages of scenes of Paris taken from the book.
“The vivid scenes created by Ms. Martin bring Paris to life,” Watts said. “We hope to give children a sense of Paris so they’ll be inspired to go there one day.”