From teaching us our ABC’s to helping prepare us for any sort of weather, author and illustrator Sarah Jones has been helping blue manatee press readers in fun, effective ways! Get to know this imaginative and creative story teller!
Who Is Sarah Jones?
Sarah says her interest in art began all the way back to when she was eight years old while taking Saturday morning art classes at the Columbus College of Art and Design. “I absolutely loved being in the classroom getting my hands dirty with all kinds of fun new materials,” she says. “I did printmaking, ceramics, metalwork, digital animation, design, drawing, you name it, but my favorite was always painting.”
She double majored in art education and oil painting at Miami University and went on to receive her MFA from the University of Cincinnati! “I thought that in order to be a ‘real’ artist, you had to be stuffy and serious.” she says. “My goal at the time was to be a college art professor, where I could be a serious artist, and be with kids who loved painting as much as I did. While this was a romantic idea, It wasn’t reliable work, and didn’t pay the bills.”
While teaching, Sarah picked up a part-time job in a coffee shop, which was attached to blue manatee children’s bookstore—the press’s former sister business! This, she says, changed everything! “All of my new favorite artists were children’s book illustrators, and I loved being in an environment which was so enriching for children,” she says. “It was un-serious and un-stuffy, full of fun and joy and color. I knew that I needed to be a part of this community, and as my position shifted from barista, to book seller, to storyteller, I fell in love with everything related to children’s books and decided I would give book making a try.”
Her First Children’s Book!
Sarah’s first project with the press was the concept book, Orange Triangle Fox, which is still one of her favorites. “I was inspired to write Orange Triangle Fox after I started working at blue manatee, and fell in love with all of the beautiful, hilarious and clever children’s books we carried,” she says. “I wanted to make a book which was cute and fun, but also educational.”
The book was already well researched, drawing from her bookstore experience, educational background and love of painting, and took only a week to write! “I made a copy of Orange Triangle Fox as a baby shower gift for my best friend, and printed an extra one for myself. After sharing the book with Dr. John, he immediately offered to publish it with blue manatee press.”
The ROYGBaby Series!
The publication and success of Orange Triangle Fox gave Sarah the confidence to move forward with her next project—Bunnies Near and Far! Like Orange Triangle Fox, Bunnies was also a multi-concept board book and had a similar cover, with a bright colored spine,” she says.
“Early on in the series, I knew I wanted to tie my board books together with a rainbow theme, but it wasn’t until the fourth book, Ready for Weather, came out with the ROYGBaby logo that we really knew the rainbow could be completed.”
“With each book sporting a different ROYGBIV colored spine, and each providing a unique educational experience, the series sits together both functionally and beautifully on baby’s bookshelf.”
Sarah currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Andy, and their dog, Avery! “Between traveling, hiking, and navigating a new city and job, I am actually beginning work on a new project!” she says. “Now that ROYGBaby is complete, I’d like to try another big picture book project. I’ve been really inspired by the natural scenery here in Oregon, so I’m sure that will seep into this next story.”
I feel so lucky to be a part of blue manatee press for as long as I have. There have been so many amazing and talented authors and illustrators involved, and the press has grown to be a real force in the industry. I’m looking forward to continuing my involvement with BMP and the children’s book community!
Her advice for people who want to write and illustrate their own books: “Be yourself, do what you love, and do it often! The projects that you love to do always turn out the best, and if they don’t turn out, then you’ve learned for next time! I’ve always measured my success with my own personal satisfaction and happiness, and the rest will follow!”