CARVER – The time children’s author P.M. Kelly spent bonding with his three children while telling them bedtime stories, he said, were some of the happiest moments of his life.
With his new children’s book. “Dream Butterflies,” Kelly shares one of the favorite stories he told his daughter.
Through his writing, Kelly is recapturing those moments in time with help from his longtime collaborator and wife, Connie Kelly.
The couple’s story began in college when he would write her long letters in bunches. She was the artistic one, so it was natural that she would illustrate his book.
The couple has lived in Carver nearly 30 years, raising their daughter and two sons in town.
At night he would go into their rooms to read to them, but that reading morphed into storytelling time.
His stories invariably started with “Once upon a time…” and had an ending with a purpose.
“My challenge was always to come up with some kind of moral at the end of the story,” he said.
Kelly said he was excited to share the book with his daughter. As Connie said, it’s special to be able to preserve his stories to their children this way, because as any parent knows, it can feel like time just flies by.
The Kellys describe “Dream Butterflies” as the story of a young girl named Alysia who lives in a land where only boys dream. She wants to know why girls don’t get to dream. She succeeds in finding the answer and shares with other girls how they can dream, too.
A powerful young lady, Alysia isn’t the typical lead character. Kelly said that was intentional.
Kelly said studies show that around 30 percent of children’s books have a girl as the lead character, and in most cases she’s interested in a boy. A selfish, privileged child in the beginning, that changes.
“It transforms her nature and how she sees herself,” he said.
Kelly said “Dream Butterflies” is a book families can read together, whether it’s the child or the parent who is reading, and sparking a child’s imagination.
The Kellys say it’s a book with elements of fantasy and magic that bridges the gap between a picture book and a chapter book in that it’s aimed at beginner readers ages 6 to 10.
He said he feels that he had a greater personal connection with his children because of their shared experience.
Connie has worked part-time at Carver Public Library as assistant to the children’s librarian and also works as a paraprofessional at Carver Elementary School. She has done commercial work as a fashion illustrator, and visitors to the library will see her murals on the walls.
A Kickstarter campaign started them on their way to getting their book published. They want to thank all the family, friends and community members for their generous support. Their book was self-published through the company Book Baby, and that was an eye-opening experience in itself.
They ultimately navigated a process that included a print-on-demand agreement, and “Dream Butterflies” can be pre-ordered online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other sites. There’s also an eBook version.
Their collaboration has been some time in the making, but now that they have their first book out, readers can expect to share more dreams with the Kellys.
“Hopefully it’s the beginning so we can share other stories,” he said.
Follow Kathryn Gallerani on Twitter @kgallreporter.