I present before you today:
That's him. That rotund succulent is Ty, a cactus with big dreams and a single-minded devotion to burgers. In the words of the Amazon book description (which I wrote, so obviously it's the perfect description):"All Ty wants is a hamburger...and lots of adventure to go with it! Join Ty as he learns to navigate the world he lives in: a world of monkeys, ants, rats, cockroaches, and even a cicak or two. For some, this world might seem a little scary, but not for Ty. His optimism and zest for life is unstoppable...just like his burger craving. These stories are meant to be read aloud to children of kindergarten-elementary age. Voracious young readers might want to read the stories for themselves. Each story is set in a little apartment in tropical Malaysia, an apartment that exists in real life. Does Ty exist in real life? I'll let you decide that for yourself."
If you enjoy my creative writing style--a unique mashup of bizarrely optimistic hopefulness paired with slightly cynical observations of the real world, you will like this book, regardless of age. It is designed as a children's book, but not as a baby or toddler book--unless your toddler likes stories with lots of words, even startlingly large words on occasion. The Cactus Who stories are entirely set in Malaysia, and all of the characters are creatures (or plants) that we see inside and around our home and apartment complex on a regular basis. I learned pretty early on in the illustration process that choosing to write stories in which geckos, cockroaches, starlings, and rats played key roles was perhaps not the best choice if I wanted "cute" or "pretty" characters...because it's basically impossible to make a cockroach look cute. However, one of the first comments I received from an early reader was "I love the cockroaches!" That was a surprise.
These are the real characters I stumble across in my life here--while the stories themselves are imaginary, all are based on what I imagine might really be happening right under our noses. I mean, are any of you up-to-date on all the cockroach gossip going on in your home?
The book is listed for sale at $12.49. This book contains 3 individual stories involving the same characters, which makes the book significantly longer than you might imagine the typical children's picture book to be.
So, there it is. Lifelong dream achieved: I wrote and illustrated a book for children, and even better, it's a book giving a glimpse at life in tropical Malaysia. I'll be honest and say I'm pretty good and excited about it. Thanks to all of those who have cheered me on since I first tentatively announced this project! If you'd like, you can purchase The Cactus Who Craved a Hamburger online--and if possible, I encourage you to leave reviews after you've read it, because I'd love to know what you think! The book also has a hashtag: #WhereIsTyTheCactus . Look at me, pretending like I'm social media savvy and cool enough to make hashtags. It's all a facade.
You guys are the real all-stars!