How a Wilsonville father's bedtime story became a book for everyone's children

A Montana native, Joe Chiovaro has always had a creative streak. SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLAIRE GREEN - Joe Chiovaro didnt set out to be an author when he started writing his picture book The Sun and the Moon, but rather to create a lasting memory of storytime with his three children.An internal medicine hospitalist by trade, Chiovaro first moved to the Pacific Northwest to attend medical school in Seattle.

After completing his education and beginning residency in San Francisco, he and his wife, Amy, decided to stay in the city and embrace the lifestyle in a third-floor walk-up with minimal parking. But the addition of their first child, Elise, quickly changed Chiovaro's perspective on city


"San Francisco was great, but when you have kids, it's a lot harder," Chiovaro said. "Suddenly the single grocery-bag shopping and frequent small-table meals aren't as fun with a kid in a car seat."

Wanting to be closer to his parents, the family packed up their lives in San Francisco and relocated to Wilsonville to be near his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs position at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) without having to live downtown.

"We liked being out of town and it had more of a neighborhood feel, so I ended up in Wilsonville," Chiovaro said.

It was in Wilsonville, nestled in for storytime with Elise and Chiovaro's twins, Ben and Addy, 5, before bed, that the inspiration for the book "The Sun and the Moon" came to him.

"A lot of times I'll tell the kids stories at bedtime and I'll just make them up," Chiovaro said. "Sometimes they'll be just terrible stories and sometimes the kids will help me in just this whole goofy experperiment."

When it came to "The Sun and the Moon," Chiovaro said that his children liked the story especially well and he wrote it down the next day. A picture book with an underlying theme of empathy and compassion, the book follows the lives of Mother Earth's two children, the Sun and the Moon, and how the siblings maintain a loving relationship despite that they never see each other.

"I have to have a creative outlet of some sort," Chiovaro said. "This book was just something that I started doing as a creative outlet and then it took on some momentum of its own and then it became a goal to produce something for my family."

But Chiovaro quickly discovered that a lot of planning and revision go into creating and self-publishing a book.

"I had no idea about how to go about finding an illustrator, so I actually looked on Craigslist with an ad in the "Services Wanted" section," Chiovaro said with a laugh.

The illustrator that Chiovaro found was Nate P. Jensen, Portland artist with experience illustrating children's' books. Jensen's online portfolio quickly captured Chiovaro's attention. Working together, the two created a soft, watercolor vision for the aesthetic. Once the book was complete, he landed on Amazon's self-publishing platform CreateSpace, to allow the book to be print-on-demand.

"This was never going to be my career and it wasn't something that I really wanted to pour enormous amounts of money into its creation," Chiovaro said. "But now there are so many options for self-publishing and many kids books are being done that way."

Unlike many children's books authors, Chiovaro said that he's not terribly interested in promoting and marketing the book for sales purposes.

"All I really wanted to do was produce something for my kids," Chiovaro said. "So wherever it goes from here, I don't really have any high aspirations because I already achieved what I wanted to


Now that the book is complete, Chiovaro says that his true hope for the book is inscribed on the last page in Italian and English: "per i miei bambini (for my children), may you always have a story to tell."

"I'd like to put the funds away for the kids for college or to use to have them create their own books, which I think would be really fun to do as they're starting to write and tell stories. Now that I understand how to take it from writing to finished product, I think that it would be absolutely amazing to do it with them one day."

Contact Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Claire Green at 503-636-1281 ext. 113 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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