New Storybook Release: Bear Island

Kids' storybooks-Bear Island

I’m excited about this one!

Over the past few years, thanks to some great teaching by a couple of pastor friends, I’ve come to appreciate that one of God’s primary attributes is that He is relational in nature. As human beings created in His image, we are relational as well; created to live in loving relationship with Him, and with each other. Since our triune God exists in relationship within Himself, we can say that our need for loving relationship is not a shortcoming or flaw, but is rather an essential part of our Creator’s design for us.

The idea of a personal God who is loving and relational is not as inevitable as it might seem. This is unique to a biblical worldview. For example, the Allah of the Quran has always existed as a solitary being, and there is no indication that he desires relationship with man. Furthermore, Allah’s eternal aloneness suggests that love could have only existed in theory until man was created. In contrast, Jesus describes being in perfect loving relationship with the Father from before creation (Jn 17:22-24.) Thus the scriptures can truthfully say that God is love, and always has been.

Marriage is one picture of the relational unity-in-diversity that God designed us for. The creation story explicitly states that “oneness” is God’s intent for marriage. Family is another picture. The church is meant to be yet another manifestation of loving, relational unity. The greatest commandments of Jesus reflect all of this. Even on a worldly level, everyone on the planet seeks community and unity in some form. This is all from God, and Jesus claims that His salvation is what makes relational unity – first with God, and then with our neighbor – truly possible. In this way we can say that our deepest desires are met in Jesus.

Bear Island is a simple story that was designed to capture these truths at the simplest level. It’s a story about love, friendship, and family.

Bear Island tells the story of an island that should be a wonderful place for bears to live. Unfortunately, all of the bears are lonely because they mistakenly believe that the way to be happy is to be selfish. The strongest bears push the smaller bears around, and there’s generally lots of fighting and grumpiness. Bear Island is not a very nice place to live.

Stories about bears

One day an enormous, new bear visits the island, and the other bears are immediately afraid of him. However, rather than behaving selfishly, as they expect him to, he brings love and friendship to the island, eventually transforming the whole island.

Books for kids-Bear Island

Children's book illustration“…Every day Burly Brown Bear made a new friend by being kind to another bear. Soon there was a whole party of brown furry bears sharing their berries and sharing their days together. Bear Island was becoming a more heavenly place!…”

Biblical Worldview for kids

 

 

 

 

Bear hug

 

 

As a side note, the idea for this story came to me after my wife and I had completed a marriage class through my church that deeply affected us. This was also during the Ferguson riots, (near where I grew up.) At the time, I was struck with how seldom fatherlessness and the decline of marriage were a part of the ensuing discussions on race relations in America. I think the story of Bear Island came out a little differently because of all of this than it otherwise would have. I mentioned in a previous post that the characters in the story were designed so that children of any ethnic makeup would be able to identify with them. My hope is that this book can make inroads into the Black and Hispanic communities. Eventually I hope to offer a Spanish version as well.

So there you have it! Thanks again for your support – I hope you and your family are having a great summer!

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Storyboo-love & friendship

A Peek at Work in Progress

Scott Freeman-children's book illustrator

Here you can see stages in the development of a finished watercolor illustration.

I’m quite enthused about the storybook I’m currently working on. The book is called Bear Island. It’s a story themed around the idea that we were all designed by God for loving relationship. When I release the book, I’ll divulge more of the storyline.

Here’s the story in a nutshell. Bear Island is a great place for bears to live, but all of the bears are alone. They’re alone because they think that the way to be happy and strong is to be selfish. There’s a lot of fighting and grumpiness on the island. Then one day a very large, new bear visits the island. All of the native bears are afraid of him at first, but he goes against the grain of the culture and models selflessness and love to the island, changing the culture.
Mama Bear-watercolorThe point of this post is to give you a glimpse of how the artwork is coming along. I’ve had a couple of people tell me that they would like to see some work in progress. I hadn’t thought of doing this because, well, I see my own artwork everyday. If readers seem interested, I’ll do this with each new book. With each book I plan to employ a different style to fit the attitude of the book – fanciful, or silly, or realistic – so I hope this will help to keep it interesting for you.
Books for kids-Bear IslandBear Island was written to be accessible to a slightly younger audience than were my previous books. The illustration style for Bear Island is simple and pared down, in keeping with the simplicity of the story.
Bear Island-Scott FreemanAs a side note, I’ll mention another hope I have for this book. I designed it with the intention of making it palatable to Black and Hispanic readers. When I worked at Hallmark as a greeting card artist, I learned why greeting cards often feature animals as “spokespeople.” A primary reason is that this allows people of differing races to identify with the character. In the same way, Bear Island is peopled with brown bears, (not polar bears, mind you!) So my hope is that the characters will appeal to kids of any race, enabling them to fully identify with the characters. The story makes a point of affirming intact, loving families as an ideal. Also, after the selfish bear culture has been transformed into a life-affirming, relational one, new and creative possibilities that didn’t exist before emerge on the island.

Christian storybooks-Bear IslandHere you can see some of my favorite illustrations so far. What you’re seeing are the untouched paintings shot with my lame camera, but you can still get a pretty good idea of how they’re coming along. I’m juggling a lot of other work right now, but I expect to release Bear Island by the month of April. Enjoy!

If you haven’t already done so, please visit the home page and sign up on my email list so I can notify you of new storybook releases. I’ll send you an ebooklet as a thank you.

New Book Release: The Cocky Rooster

The Cocky Rooster, written and illustrated by Scott FreemanI’m pleased to announce that my first new kids’ book is ready to go!
Following is a brief introduction and some thoughts around the story.

The Cocky Rooster is a tale about a self-absorbed rooster who eventually has a change of heart. Its underlying theme is loving, parental authority.

In my experience as a parent, it has been unusual to find storybooks that portray God-given authority in a favorable light. Most moms and dads that I know recognize that parental rules and authority exist primarily for the safety and protection of their children and those with whom their children interact. This is simply a fundamental, good, and necessary part of everyday parenting. Even so, the message that our children will so often hear from the world is that authority is a tool used to control people, that it can’t be trusted, and that people should instead “follow their hearts.” This is reflective of a secularist worldview.

But if the human heart is already naturally inclined to be rebellious and selfish, urging small children to follow their hearts reinforces exactly the wrong idea. We might as well urge them to eat dessert first and only eat their vegetables if they feel like it. There is, arguably, a place for following one’s heart, but for young children, I think a true picture of God-given authority is the message that needs to be reinforced, because that’s the message that will otherwise go unheard.

I believe that, of course, as children grow older into adolescence, wise parents will give them increasing freedom, responsibility, and autonomy. But The Cocky Rooster is a picture book designed for children under 9 years old, to reinforce the idea of the need for loving parental guidance in a broken and sometimes dangerous world.

In a nutshell, the story tells the tale of a Rooster who lives on an urban farm, (possibly in your neighborhood!) He resents being cooped up in the henhouse with the hens every night. He wants to meet the nighttime animals and have his own adventures…
kids story books, The Cocky RoosterOne night he finds a way out, and has an adventure that he is ill-equipped to deal with on his own, resulting in consequences he couldn’t have foreseen.

Cocky Rooster, by Scott FreemanFollowing are a couple of consecutive page excerpts, so you can see the wording and watercolor by Scott Freemantypical page length:

“You’re not big enough to overcome the fox,” she said gently.

The rooster knew she was right. “I wanted to see the nighttime creatures,” he said to her.

“But you are not a wild creature like the nighttime animals. You need the protection of a farmer and a dog.” Again the rooster knew she was right. He now very much wanted to get back to the henhouse.

“I do want to return to my coop now,” said the rooster. “Will you help me to get back home safely?” The graceful deer promised to do the best she could. (pg 21)

The Cocky Rooster, p27Together, they carefully walked back through the neighborhood, watching closely for any sign of the fox. Soon they safely reached the urban farmer’s home, where everyone was fast asleep.

“This is where I live,” said the rooster, thanking his new friend.

Quietly, he slipped past Rufus’s doghouse where he could hear Rufus snoring. Soon he would be back in the coop where he would fall asleep to the sound of the snoring hens. (p23)

 

Unless otherwise stated, all books will be a typical 32 page storybook length, and 8 x 10 inches in size. I’ve made 3 options available to you:

> Ebook format – $4.95
> Paperback format – $14.95
> Hardback format – $18.95

For the release of this first title I’m offering FREE SHIPPING on orders inside the U.S.

You and your child can enjoy The Cocky Rooster, together, very soon – in fact, before bedtime tonight if you order the ebook now!

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GIFT GIVING: If you are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, or someone in a position of caring for young children in any capacity, please consider ordering a book for the kids in your care. Remember – a great storybook can be a great gift for a child who already has a humongous pile of toys and video games. A great story goes to the heart!

And speaking of gift giving, I should also mention that at this point I have no plans to sell these books in stores or on Amazon. The only way to get them will be from my Big Picture Publishing website BOOK STORE. This means that if you order my books as a gift, it’s almost certain that your little loved one won’t yet have a copy.

books for kids - The Cocky RoosterI hope you and your loved ones enjoy The Cocky Rooster. I can hardly wait to get started illustrating the next book – The Friendly City. Watch for it here!