By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Kristin and Brad Northrop have more than 50 years of teaching experience between them. And they’ve raised four children.
That adds up to many hours reading to children.
Now the couple has co-produced a children’s book.
“By reading so many different books to students over decades, we’ve witnessed what young readers are attracted to and also what does not hold their interest,” says Kristin, a teacher consultant at Pioneer High School who has been teaching in Ann Arbor since 2004. “We’ve seen the power and impact a good book has on children’s imaginations and creativity.”
Their book—“Akeina the Crocodile”— is a story about an adventurous crocodile who sets off on a journey to visit her friend, Tiger, and ends up realizing that the journey can be just as important as the destination.
Brad, a 1976 graduate of Pioneer High School who now teaches elementary art in Howell Public Schools, took an AAPS Community Education & Recreation class about 12 years ago that focused on illustrating children’s books. As an artist, he’d been interested in this area for a long time. After that class, he was inspired to do more drawing and painting at home, and the cover page or their book was born during that process.
Brad, whose mother, Bonnie Northrop, spent her entire 30-year teaching career at Lawton Elementary, created some illustrations and had a general idea in mind. He shared the idea with Kristin, who then wrote—and rewrote and rewrote some more—a story to accompany them.
Then friends read drafts and offered comments.
Once the full story developed and Kristin was finally happy with the final draft, Brad came up with a plan to finish all of the illustrations.
But how to publish it?
“We were unsure of how to format the book and work through the publishing details to take it from a typed story with original artwork to an appealing, finished children’s book,” Kristin says.
Last spring, they decided to submit their story to the Ann Arbor District Library’s Fifth Avenue Press, which publishes local authors. After learning in June that their book was accepted, they worked with the graphic designer all summer, and then sent the book for printing in October.
The Fifth Avenue Press team was a wonderful, supportive resource, say the Northrops.
They say they have several more book ideas in mind and hope to publish more stories. Brad would like to have a career illustrating children’s books after he retires from teaching.
“Akeina the Crocodile” is available online.
I’ve known both Brad and Kristin a long time, so their talents did not escape me.
Little did I know, however, how deeply their dedication to children’s education truly was, and how beautifully it could be expressed, until I became acquainted with Akeina the Crocodile.
Brad’s illustrations colorfully capture the reader’s glance, and continue entertaining throughout the story.
Kristin’s story takes the childlike imagination, in all of us, on a journey of delightful new experiences, bringing a smile to our hearts, while introducing ‘new’ vocabulary ‘gifts” to the younger readers.
What a dynamic duo, they are!