New children’s book has local connections

MIDDLEBURY — Ashley Charron spent last summer reading hundreds of books by many authors to children at the daycare facility at which she worked.
She’s now written a children’s book of her own.
“I realized what the kids like (in a book), what they read the most,” said Charron, a lifelong Addison County resident. “I decided to write one, and that was that.”
Thus was born “Hello Green Mountains, It’s a Soggy Spring,” the first installment in what Charron and her illustrator, Cotey Gallagher of Salisbury, are envisioning as a four-book series covering each one of Vermont’s distinct seasons. Charron officially released “It’s a Soggy Spring” on May 22 and anticipates it will be the first of many children’s books she will release during what she hopes will be a prolific career as an author.
Long-time Vermonters will quickly relate to the spring themes in Charron’s debut offering. With the aid of Gallagher’s colorful, fanciful artwork, Charron leads young readers through the messy travails of mud season, the sweet ritual of maple sugaring, the planting of a spring garden, and busting out of winter hibernation into outdoor activities, such as biking, picnicking, hiking and four-wheeling.
She also plugs the annual May Green Up Day, when Vermonters take to the roadsides to clean up trash that has accumulated during the winter.
The text provides a poetic description for each illustration:
“Hello, soggy spring shower. It helps to grow the red clover, Vermont’s State Flower!”
“Hello, hiking trail, oh so long. Getting to the top is exciting, and I feel so strong!”
“Hello, rototiller that plows the dirt for our garden to grow. We plant seeds, water them, and watch them come up, row by row!”
All of the characters featured in the book are important people in Charron’s life. Included are her parents, grandmother, three aunts, three uncles, three cousins and her boyfriend and his two children. The family dogs also romp through the pages.
“There are also many things to find and point to, which my kids (at daycare) loved,” Charron said.
She hopes that visitors to the area will also warm to the book as a way of teaching their kids about the seasonal customs in the Green Mountain State.
Since she is self-publishing the books, Charron has had to be extra creative to do it on a budget. She is having them printed “on demand” as they are ordered. And she raised additional money by offering sponsorships to area businesses — contributing businesses have their corporate names featured and their products depicted in the illustrations. For example, a young woman is seen planting seeds from an Agway bag; maple syrup production takes place in a Bread Loaf View Farm sugarhouse; and a man on a four-wheeler is wearing a jacket with a Cyclewise logo.
Charron, 26, was pleased with the support from the businesspeople she approached.
“They thought it was a great idea,” she said.
She also acknowledges all seven business sponsors on a page at the end of “It’s a Soggy Spring.”
Charron learned that writing and producing the book was just the beginning of the effort to make a success out of “It’s a Soggy Spring.”
“I have to do all the marketing myself,” she noted, a chore that has seen her conduct a media blitz and schedule some book signings. She will sign books this Saturday, July 13, at Scentsations Flowers and Gifts in Bristol from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and at the Bixby Library in Vergennes on Thursday, July 25, from 6 to 7 p.m.
In the meantime, the book is available locally at such places as the Vermont Book Shop, Scentsations in Bristol, the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, Flying Pig Books in Shelburne and Brown Dog Books and Gifts in Hinesburg. It is also available on-line through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, according to Charron.
Charron and Gallagher are now working on the winter book, which should be released later this year. Plans call for the summer and fall books to be released next year. Once those are done, Charron has aspirations of tackling a New England series of children’s books. Again, she will search out new business sponsors to help underwrite her writing.
“I hope to make this my new career,” she said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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