Aiken author, illustrator produce a sweet picture book
Jan Waugh created a rhyming story that became a family classic decades ago, when her son Nicholas was small.
Now Nicholas is grown and expecting his first child, and Waugh has commemorated the occasion by putting the family story down on paper.
Waugh published “A Banana Split for Nicholas” in late August, working with illustrator Lizzie Mahoney and Howell Printing of Aiken. The 14-page picture book is priced at $4.99 and is available at Booklovers Bookstore, Betsy Wilson-Mahoney’s art studio on Hayne Avenue, 3 Monkeys Fine Gifts, Pitter Patter Children’s Boutique and the St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church bookstore.
“It was over 30 years ago, when my son was a toddler and was just beginning to talk. He’d request a banana split for dinner every night. It didn’t matter what I made, that’s what always asked for. I’d just say this story to him, like a poem,” Waugh said. “He’s now about to become a father, and I wanted to do something special for him, so this summer I pulled the story out of my desk and made a little book of it.”
As a first-time author, Waugh asked around for advice from fellow authors Betsy Wilson-Mahoney and Leslie Alexander, Booklovers owner Fran Bush and, via email, children’s author Vonda Skelton. She quickly opted for printing a small run herself rather than working with a small press and, at Wilson-Mahoney’s suggestion, made contact via email with Wilson-Mahoney’s daughter Lizzie, a USC student in Columbia.
“I sent her the story, and she drew up a picture and sent it to me online,” Waugh said. “That’s what became the front cover, that first picture. It was just perfect – it looks just like my son did, and she doesn’t even know him.”
Howell Printing produced an initial run of 300 copies of the book. The first copy went to Nicholas and Waugh’s grandchild-to-be, and the second went to her granddaughter.
She then put copies in stores for sale and recently made appearances with the book at Mead Hall’s book fair and read to the school’s first- and second-grade classes. She plans a book reading and signing at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Aiken County Public Library.
“I did the book as a personal gift, but, once it was done, I realized I’d have to sell a few books to recoup the printing costs,” she said. “It’s been selling well, and people say it’s funny, beautifully illustrated and heartwarming.”
Waugh said she has an idea for a sequel but has not put pen to paper yet.
“I’m very pleased with the book,” she said. “You could say it’s been something I’ve enjoyed sharing with family and friends.”
Suzanne Stone is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard. An Augusta native, she is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design and studied communications at Augusta State University.