Today is Read Across America Day, so we thought it was only fitting to sit down with a few of our children’s book authors over a cup of coffee to learn about their books, inspiration, and what they hope readers get out of them!
CB: Alright, well thank you guys for making the trip over here to talk about your children’s books. Can we just get a brief introduction – can I get your name, your job title, which book you authored, and then how you take your coffee? We’ll start with Tim!
TO: My name is Tim Olson, I’m a water resources engineer in the Maplewood office, I was the author Walter the Raindrop, and, if I’m being honest, I like my coffee with some chocolate in it.
MD: I’m Maddie Dahlheimer, I am a landscape architect in the Burnsville office, I wrote the Parker the Planner book, and I take my coffee black.
TD: I’m Tyler Danielson, I’m a GIS Specialist in the Des Moines office, I wrote Lindsay the GIS Specialist, and I like my coffee black.
CB: And on your pants…
TD: And on my pants *laughs* That did happen.
SG: I’m Shannon Gapp, I’m a landscape designer in the Des Moines office, I wrote Green Trees and Sam, and I take my coffee with cream and sugar, and lately in large quantities since I have a little one -year-old at home.
CB: In about two or three sentences, can you describe your books? Give a quick summary of what your book is about?
TO: I’ll start – Walter the Raindrop is about a raindrop and his journey through the water cycle and how that relates to stormwater management and some of the other things that we do in the water resources group.
MD: Parker the Planner is a book about planning. The story is – the character Parker isn’t happy with the community that he’s in because there’s no playground, there’s no sidewalks, he has to get driven around by his parents. He wakes up one day and comes up with a plan to make his own town. He goes around and asks his community members what they would like to see in a town and then he makes a plan to make it happen.
TD: Lindsey the GIS Specialist is about just a day in the life of a GIS specialist. All the different technologies you interact with in GIS. The book is actually named after my sister – she’s also in GIS.
SG: Green Trees and Sam is a fun, whimsical, rhyming book about a little girl named Sam and she kind of goes through all the things she loves to do and by the end of the book, she finds out all the things she loves doing is perfectly lined up with being a landscape architect when she grows up.
CB: Awesome! Safe to say that none of you thought you were going to be writing a children’s book when you got hired at Bolton & Menk. What made you say yes to this? Tim, we’ll start with you again, because I know you were the one who started this whole thing.
TO; The whole thing started with the Smithsonian, actually, they approached us looking for some educational material for a mobile educational unit that they were doing. As we got into it, and started answering some of the questions, I was like “man, this really reads like a children’s book”. So we pitched the idea back to some people in HR and marketing and everything took off from there.
CB: What do you hope children and fellow engineers get out of these books?
TD: I hope for kids that maybe are sitting at their desk in elementary school, drawing a little map, that now that kid can know what type of a job they’re interested in when they grow up. GIS is such a diverse and technical field at times, but also can be so creative and different from day to day. Hopefully they just get a little bit of that from the book and it can inspire them to do something.
TO: The words that are written in the book are a reflection of you. We’re telling our own story and the reasons why we’re so passionate about the things we do.
SG: Absolutely. I know one of the biggest questions kids get asked is “what do you want to be when you grow up”? I feel like there’s only a tiny little smidgen of professions that get kind of advocated toward these kids so showing them that these are out there. I also think everything we do is about improving the communities we live in and helping build a better future. Letting these kids figure out different ways in which they can do that I think is great.
MD: And I think with the crossover, the possibilities of “hey none of these are standalone books all of these kind of cross one another” there’s that possibility that we can all work together to achieve that common goal.
TO: We get to help communities all day long. It’s pretty amazing we have the trust of these communities to come in and solve their problems. At the end of the day, these books are so much further reaching than we ever expected and so we’re able to really get our message out there as who we are as people in more ways than we could have ever imagined.
ALL: Thanks for watching!
You can read all of our books at our online library! https://www.bolton-menk.com/library