Local author Carrie Tillotson is debuting her first children's book this month. "Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book," hits bookstore shelves on April 12.
Tillotson was inspired to write the book after hearing her son's swim instructor counting for 10 seconds while her son floated in the water but would replace the number 10 with bananas. Her son would "go into hysterics every time," she said.
She knew she had a title for a children's book when her son's instructor asked him, "Don't you love my counting to bananas?"
"My goal in writing it was to capture that element of surprise my son had with his swim instructor," Tillotson said.
"Counting to Bananas" is a silly numbers story in which Banana, the protagonist, and the narrator disagree about what the book is truly about. The narrator starts out counting figs and plums, but when the narrator counts pigs (to rhyme with figs), Banana objects. As the story goes on, Banana becomes increasingly frustrated that the narrator hasn't included bananas in the count, while other fruits and even non-fruits get all the attention.
Tillotson, a biostatistician-turned-author, left the biostatistics and epidemiology field just before the COVID-19 pandemic to focus on writing. She has written non-fiction science pieces for children's magazines and hopes to publish more children's science books in the future.
Though she has since moved from Canby, Tillotson grew up in the area and graduated from Canby High School.
She said she's always loved science and art and attributes these interests to her teachers there. She remembers when a local author came to speak at Lee Elementary and feeling inspired by middle school science field trips and an art history trip to Italy.
"I think my interest and love of art, along with my love of books, kind of is what lead me to writing," she said.
For Tillotson, publishing her debut children's book has been, "exciting and kind of surreal," she said. She said she's thankful for the team at Flamingo Books supporting her through this process.
"The book's illustrator, Estrella Lourenço, is amazing. I just can't get over how cute she has made Banana and the hilarity she puts into her illustrations is awesome," she said.
She's also working with a group of other debut children's book authors, called Kidlit Caravan.
"Being able to talk with other authors who are trying to find their own ways through the whole process has been really helpful," she said.
Tillotson has another book in the works, called "B is for Bananas," coming out next year. This one will be an alphabet bedtime story featuring the same Banana character.
The Book Nook in downtown Canby will host Tillotson April 23 at 11 a.m. "Counting to Bananas," will be available wherever books are sold on April 12.
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