Rosemount author, illustrator duo to pen a series
After finding success in adapting a classic Christmas tale to be set in Rosemount, a teacher and former student of Rosemount High School will be creating a Rosemount series.
“’Twas the Night Before Christmas In Rosemount” was the brainchild of Chuck Brooks, who enlisted the help of student André Nelson to illustrate the children’s book. It was originally a column Brooks wrote for the Rosemount Town Pages, and was published in December 2013.
“We were overwhelmed at the response,” Brooks said. “We ordered 300 copies for the first print, and right away needed another 200. We’ve sold 600 since.”
The book was well received in Rosemount, with even mayor Bill Droste giving a public reading. And with the start of a new year, Brooks found new inspiration.
“(André and I) worked so well together,” he said. “I put the words down and he picks up exactly what I’m thinking and paints it. We had so much fun with this. So I said to André: I’ve got another idea.”
That idea became another adaptation: The 12 Days ’Fore Chrismas In Rosemount. While the first book is a heartwarming tale of the Rosemount community coming together on Christmas Eve, Brooks sees this one as humorous.
“The protagonist is like a Charlie Brown character. He gets a mysterious invitation to his first party and doesn’t worry about who sent it,” he said.
The invitation comes from an enigmatic character who, in keeping true to the source material, sends myriad items on each of the 12 days. But don’t expect five golden rings. Among the gifts the protagonist receives are a set of leprechaun statues that may not be inanimate figurines.
“They’re not very well behaved,” Brooks said. “By the day before Christmas, he’s ready for the institution.”
Nelson and Brooks hope to escalate the action on each of the 15 pages, pairing the narrative with the illustration.
“You’ll be enjoying it more, chuckling more with every page,” Brooks said. “It’s a bit wordier (than the first book), but there’s an artistic balance.”
The two plan to put out the second book by Nov. 1, and hold a reading at Barnes and Noble in December.
Brooks will retire from Rosmount High School after this year, but hopes to continue working with Nelson to put out a third book in 2017, to mark the 100th graduating class of RHS.
“It’s kind of the little school that could,” he said. “The book will be an abbreviated history tour, a child’s approach to what it’s gone through.”
It’s only fitting for the unlikely duo, who met at the high school. Brooks sought out a student artist to help illustrate “’Twas the Night Before Christmas in Rosemount,” and he found Nelson, who was known around the high school as a landscape painter. He was a little leery of trying his hand at a different art style, at first.
“I didn’t want to draw faces, besides the (main character),” Nelson said. “But I broke up the column into a storyboard, and figured out what spoke to me, what jumped out that I could visualize in the writing.”
Nelson drew his sketches first in pencil, and eventually painted them. One of the more difficult parts for him was getting the iconic aerial view of downtown Rosemount just right.
“You have to mentally put yourself into that perspective for painting,” he said.
But after painting dozens of scenes for the two books, Brooks is confident in Nelson’s ability, and is looking forward to creating their third together.
“I’m pretty convinced he can do this,” he said. “And I think it’s time for a book to complement it all, everything that’s happened at Rosemount High School.”
Email Nick Hassett at [email protected].