Addison County Raised Artist Illustrates Children’s Books
By Cookie Steponaitis
photo by providedGrowing up in Addison County Aaron Parrott learned to love to read, draw and participate in the arts. As an author and illustrator of children's books, Parrott brings that joy to a new generation!
photo by providedThe Flash series is authored by Kari Martindale and features her child's pet with a twist. The book is seen through the eyes of the dog.
photo by provided
It was a recent event that made life come full circle for artist Aaron Parrott. His mother Ernestine Woolery downloaded his first children’s book on her Kindle and called up Aaron to read it to him over the phone, chuckling all the while. “This is why I love reading and love writing,” responded the artist. “Thank you, mom.” Aaron Parrott grew up and attended school in Addison County and was always one for the printed word, artistic image and creative process itself. Parrot was involved in music, sports and creative writing and grew up with his own pets and experiences that were part of his development and childhood years. While life took his career in different paths including a twenty-year career in the U.S. military as an instructor at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Parrott always kept his hand in the arts with his own music and drawings.
In 2015 Parrott was contacted by friends and former career military family the Martindales and asked to be the illustrator for a children’s book series based on family pet Flash, a Jack Russell Terrier and her human partner Sequoia. Loving the concept and creativity, Parrott signed on right away. The readers see all events from the perspective of the dog Flash in each of the stories and this allowed Parrot a great deal of room to push the boundaries of how to bring the story to life with images. “This is especially true in The Time Flash Had the Best Day Ever,” explains Parrott. “Every time something good happens to Flash, the camera pulls back and we can see that the little girl in the story, nicknamed ‘Squirt’ is having a pretty bad day herself sometimes as a result of Flash’s actions. Throughout both books, though, the love that Flash and Squirt share is completely evident. The book really teaches kids how to see other people’s viewpoints and how adversity does not mean our relationships are necessarily affected.”
Like many breaking into the publishing market, Parrott and book author Kari Martindale created several fully illustrated stories and went to several publishers without success. The pair decided to self-publish and launched The Time Flash Had the Best Day Ever in late 2017 and due to the success of the book released The Christmas Flash Can’t Even just before the holiday season. While working on the Flash character, Parrott came up with the idea of creating toys and books of his own for the character Squirt featured in the Flash series. The book entitled Pink Mink in A Sink is a tribute to the master Dr. Seuss and the first venture into authoring a children’s book by Parrott himself. Parrott’s book due out in January of this year. “Pink Mink is completely an homage to the most absurd children’s books and cartoons of our past. Specifically, Dr. Seuss is a clear influence,” explains Parrott. “The repetitive rhyming and even the type I chose for the book is reminiscent of his work. The story and images evoke the sorts of imagery that Chuck Jones used when he animated Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner. Just as Bugs had a fully furnished home with a bed, chairs and so on in his rabbit hole, at one point the Pink Mink outfits the sink with an easy chair and bookcase and is sitting there casually reading the newspaper.”
Both the Flash series and the spin-off Pink Mink In A Sink promotes curiosity and sends the message that it is ok to be silly. Parrott’s illustrations are designed to draw the reader in and to offer parents and children conversation topics and wonders to share. Both of the Flash books are available to be purchased through Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s websites by searching for the titles or searching Kari Martindale or Aaron Parrott by name. They can also be found at theflashseriesbooks.com and pinkinasink.wordpress.com. Parrott has reached out to the local area schools and libraries that contributed to his interest in literature as a child to donate copies of his books as a way of giving back. “I grew up reading,” explains Parrott. “My mom says I was reading simple picture books before I was two and throughout school and well into my adulthood I had a book in my hand whenever possible. I was an early adopter of Kindle and currently have a few hundred books in my cloud with everything from science fiction series to neurology textbooks. When someone grows up reading it’s a short stretch to writing. Similarly, I grew up drawing. As soon as I could hold a pencil I was drawing superheroes, animals, dinosaurs. My dad would bring home rolls of butcher block paper for me and I’d turn grocery bags inside out if I ran out of paper. Later, this turned into graphic design and web design; I drew web comics and designed posters, logos and album covers. The two passions work together really well for children’s books. I’m also fortunate enough to work closely with my creative partner Kari, who has great insight and is just as crazy as I am in all the right ways. We’re both essentially kids in adult bodies, which perfectly suits writing and illustrating children’s books.”
Parrott hopes that his books will stimulate the oldest known successful way for creating lifelong readers there is by parents reading to their children. “Read with your kids,” concludes the artist. “Get them excited to read, to explore, to make guesses and to search for information. I am really thankful that my mom read to me and inspired me to read. It has been a lifelong gift and it’s a gift worth sharing.” The Valley Voice salutes Parrott and all the creative authors who take children on an adventure that explores the world, envisions curious wonder and leaves in place a love of the written word for life.