On September 24th, we celebrated the launch of our first storybook, Henry's Bright Idea. I've been looking forward to this day for a few years now, finally getting to celebrate what has been in the works since July 2013. We had just moved to Los Angeles when the article in Country Living came out called "Making a Country Living". The story featured me and a 2 year-old Henry sitting on our old front porch in Florida, surrounded by the members of Walnut Animal Society. A few weeks later, I got a call from Cameron Books, and we began to work on the story. Eventually they found Wednesday Kirwan to illustrate, and now, three years later, we have a real live book and a second one in the works. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have such a beautifully illustrated book, and get to celebrate and share it with the world.
My good friend Audrey was kind enough to host the party at her shop, Urbanic—the cutest stationery and gift store on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. We created a small line of stationery goods to go along with the book (available on our site now), using Wednesday's illustrations.
The adorable props were made by a super talented artist and friend, Hayley Sheldon. She created details from the book using cardboard and papier-mâché. They were incredible! Arlo kept trying to eat the cookies on the little tray. The floral shadowboxes were created by another friend, Tammie Markham. I love the details, like a walnut botanical, and the little ladybug.
My wonderful friends: Sarah Sherman Samuel, Melody Hansen (who worked tons of hours to set this up with me), and Audrey Woollen the owner of Urbanic.
Wednesday Kirwan flew down from San Fransisco to attend the party, and illustrated characters inside books for the kids. One of my favorite parts of the event was hearing the kids chat with her, especially Henry's friend Liam. He was so into watching Wednesday paint, so they chatted about art for a while.
The kids had an area on the shop's patio to do their own artwork. We made coloring pages out of Wednesday's original sketches for the book.
Melody and I had fun planning the details on what to drink and eat. In the book, Eleanor the Bear makes tea for her friends using flowers she finds. So we decided to make hibiscus tea. Honey Honey Calligraphy made the pretty signs to go along with everything. Since the very first day that Walnut was even an idea in my head, I've loved and used Liberty of London fabric. So it was perfect that Meri Meri makes plates with the exact same pattern as one I've used on the dolls' dresses before! We chose mini pies, macarons, and cookies—all of which Eleanor would surely approve.
My little Arlo. I think he ate about 12 cookies without any of us realizing it.
Sheila Mae created firefly cookies as favors for everyone to take home.
We gathered up the kids to do a reading of the book. This was the first reading I've ever done, and I was so happy to have all our friends' kids there for it. I even signed a few books for them afterward.
The best part about all of this is seeing kids read and enjoy the book. Every time I get a text from a friend saying that their child asked for the book six times in a row, it makes me so happy. (I'd love to see your photos too, so if you share them on Instagram, be sure to use the hashtag #henrysbrightidea so I can see them!)
Photos by The Great Romance