Local author crafts book for grandson

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 18, 2009

Tales of her son’s adventures told to her grandson were sopopular that Brookhaven native Evelyn Swalm was encouraged to writea children’s book.

The product of that encouragement, “Tales For Keano,” is on salein stores statewide. Local residents will have an opportunity tohave the book signed during a special engagement at Just Kiddin’May 21 from 3 to 6 p.m.

“I’ve probably been working on it for two years,” Swalm said.”It was a process of writing the stories and then sweating bloodand tears over the illustrations since I’m not an artist. I wantedto do my own illustrations, since my art ability is more childlike,and I felt children might better relate to pictures from my ownmemories.”

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The eight childhood stories were written for her grandson,Keano, about his father Teague Swalm when he was his age growingup. The stories feature big yellow Jubal dog, trucks, backpacking,a crazy squirrel, treehouses, pirates, and Nanna and Poppa.

The main character in the book is Pappi, which is what Keanocalls his father.

“There are a few stories that aren’t about Pappi, but mostlyit’s adventures he had when he was Keano’s age,” Swalm said.

Pappi’s adventures continue today. Swalm was able to completethe book just three days before her son, a lieutenant commander inthe Navy, was deployed to Afghanistan to work on a Joint NarcoticsInterdiction Team.

“That was the real push to get it done at that time,” Swalmsaid. “I didn’t know about his deployment when I started the book,but when I found out about it I wanted to finish it before heleft.”

Teague deployed with the first copy of the book and now sendshome video recordings of him reading stories from the book aloudfor Keano to watch.

Teague’s copy, however, was not complete. Although all thestories were written and the art drawn, the book he took with himwas hastily put together by Swalm’s niece, Robyn Tucker of Florida,and was not made with quality materials included in the salecopies.

“We spent months e-mailing copy and illustrations back andforth, Robyn putting them together with expertise, which helped mebegin to feel pride in the finished work,” Swalm said. “Robynprinted a copy of the stories from her computer, put them togetherwith her hot glue machine, and mailed a sample of the book toTeague, arriving just in time for Christmas and a few days beforehe left for Afghanistan.”

Swalm’s sale copies are much more durable. The books arepublished on heavy card stock paper with a hardback linen cover andside sewn for durability.

“Durability was important to me. I wanted it to last so it couldbe passed on,” she said.

A big yellow Labrador retriever named Jubal also plays a majorrole in book.

Jubal is now 13 years old. He is getting feeble, but still wantsto swim in the pool like he does in the book tales.

“He has the heart, but we have to lift him out with a piece ofcanvas. Maybe he still has his memories,” Swalm said.

Swalm said she began telling the stories to her grandson when hewas 4 years old, but children of all ages have enjoyed them.

“Others have read them to their children as old as 9 or10-years-old and they enjoyed them,” she said. “They’re a goodlength for bedtime stories.”

Swalm said she has other tales and may write another book if sheat least breaks even on her self-published “Tales For Keano.”