New children's book tells tale of 'borrowed trouble'
JANESVILLE--Pat Hall believes in the old saying, “What goes around comes around.”
So does Ida May Hutchinson, the heroine of Hall's new children's book, “Ida May's Borrowed Trouble.”
Ida May takes on prairie fires, floods and blizzards. But, surprisingly, she is not happy when her frontier farm prospers.
So the fearless Ida May sets out to “borrow trouble” from her neighbors. She mends their fences, heals their sick babies and chases their wolves into the next county.
Lo and behold, she feels good again, until her luck changes and trouble overwhelms her. The once brave Ida May is reduced to tears.
Then, a knock comes to her door. Outside are all the folks she ever helped, and they have come to borrow back the trouble.
Pat wrote the story 20 years ago, when it was published in a magazine.
Recently, she and her daughter Emmeline, who drew the illustrations, turned the story into an inspiring tale about how to live.
Published in November, the book is meant for children.
“But adults will enjoy it, too,” Pat said.
Its heartfelt message is simple: Life is happier when people help each other.
Pat lives what she writes.
The Janesville woman volunteers in a number of ways, including the 11th Hour Program at St. Mary's Janesville Hospital. She is among the specially trained volunteers who sit with people who are dying.
Some 20 years ago, Pat did a lot of story writing and almost got a chapter book published. But she always thought the tale about Ida May was one of her best stories.
Emmeline helped her mom create the picture book.
A reader would never know that the 34-year-old Emmeline has no formal art training by her crisp and colorful illustrations. She took art classes at Janesville's Parker High School before graduating in 1997. Beyond that, Emmeline of St. Paul, Minn., is self-taught and highly motivated.
Two years ago, she won an illustrator position through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She worked with a Twin Cities illustrator and artist, who acted as a mentor and introduced her to Book Bridge Press. The editor there asked Emmeline to illustrate the award-winning “Voices Across the Lakes,” by Anita Pinson. It was Emmeline's first book project.
She describes herself as old-fashioned.
“I don't use Photoshop or any digital manipulation,” Emmeline said. “I use watercolor pencils and regular colored pencils and a small amount of pastel.”
Emmeline is married to Brendon Forrestal, also formerly of Janesville, and they have five children. Emmeline majored in theater-costume design in college and has worked at the Guthrie Theater wig department since 2003. As an assistant to the wig master, she is responsible for making custom-fit wigs, hairpieces and facial hair for actors as well as styling the wigs before each performance.
Emmeline worked with her mom on the book for several reasons.
She wants to follow her love of drawing and transition to a career as a children's illustrator. When Emmeline read the original article upon which the book is based, she thought that illustrating the story would be a good exercise and a challenge.
“It would teach me more about how a picture book is laid out,” she said, “and it would give me new art for my portfolio.”
But as Emmeline worked on the project, she and her mom both came to the same conclusion:
“This had to be made into a book,” Emmeline said. “My mom has written a great story with a message that I really believe in, and I wanted more people to read it than just me.”
Anna Marie Lux is a columnist for The Gazette. Her columns run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call her with ideas or comments at (608) 755-8264, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.