Why I'm Becoming a Children's Author and Illustrator

You may have noticed that I've taken a bit of a hiatus here recently, but I have some very good reasons. First of all, getting anything done in the garden (or home) with a toddler is a lot harder than it looks. Second, I've been hard at work pursuing my dream of becoming a children's book author and illustrator. No, really. Hear me out.

What does this mean for The Rainforest Garden? I've always planned on this blog being more of a combination of all the things that make me happy, so there will still be plenty of garden, diy and foodie posts as well. Now that I'm starting to fall into my groove as a working-from-home dad, you can also expect to see more posts again. But yes, you will be seeing some of my illustrations.

You're probably wondering why I'm just so gosh-darned excited about illustrating children's books all of a sudden. I've always wanted to draw and write for kids, actually, but have chickened out because the market is so competitive and I never felt experienced enough. Well, after years of illustrating for gardening clients and developing a style that fits me like a glove, I feel that I'm ready.

Mostly though, I'm doing this because of my son. I want to be a part of his world, imagining silly characters and cool places to explore. Right now he looks up at me in unflinching adoration because he doesn't know any better, but later on I'd like for him to know that I took a bold leap and followed my dreams. Ideally I'd also do well enough to make that jump worthwhile.

When I myself was a child, I didn't have too many friends. I was terribly distracted in class, chased butterflies on the baseball field and was laughed at for having my head in the clouds. My family moved around every few years, and the only friends patient enough to follow were Calvin, Hobbes, and a stuffed Garfield, who I carried around as a tattered stuffed animal until his limbs could take no more. While those cartoon characters were my core posse, storybooks captivated me with their beautiful spreads; wings like eagles that swallowed up my child-sized face in possibilities.

Books truly were my best friends. I breathed in their papery aroma, closed my eyes - and suddenly that impending report card was a world away. The cruel taunts of other children - who themselves probably had more to escape than I - were suddenly muffled by the deep and reassuring voice of the book's narrator, like a reassuring captain speaking to his passengers over a crackly loudspeaker. Smooth skies ahead.

As a children's author and illustrator, I can create a friend for the lonely and a secret escape for the downtrodden during the most important time of their lives. To be given the opportunity to bring comfort and laughter to children all over the world is the greatest honor I can imagine. I dream of someday being pulled aside by a grown adult to be told that my books, in some way, made their childhood a little sweeter.

Grand and sweeping ambitions aside, I'm also doing this because it makes me so, so very happy. For a while, it was fun to painstakingly recreate a flower with colored pencils to look like the real thing. It still is fun to an extent, but... okay, let me share one of my drawings to get my point across.

The flowers in this picture have happy faces. Need I say more?


  1. Awesome, Steve! So glad you are pursuing your dreams! Your artistic ability is such a wonderful gift.

  2. Dear Steve, I have been a distant witness to your wonderful development and exploaration for several years now. Its always inspiring and touching. I love how you share your path with all of us as it is unfolding. Your fellow, garden designer, plant lover, occasional writer and at times myself dreamer of writing and illustrating adult and children's books.... Hugs, Judy

  3. Just found this--loving it so far!!

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