Jim Jamison was inspired by the birth of his first grandchild to write a children’s book.
Jamison, owner of Foggy Noggin Brewing in Bothell, is the author of the new picture book “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?”
He wrote “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?” when granddaughter Abby was 6 months old. Five and a half years later, it’s on his grandchildren’s bookshelves.
Jamison, 60, now has three grandchildren — Abby, 6, Mary, 5, and Wesley, 4. “I would bet we have another grandkid or two coming later,” said the father of three grown children.
“What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?” was illustrated by his daughter, Stephanie Schisler, who is a Bothell High School graduate.
The book, published by Tellwell Talent, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Book Depository in e-book, paperback and hardcover formats.
Schisler, 34, of Everett, got to work on the illustrations for the book two years ago. “It took me a long time, with having a baby,” she said.
Jamison’s book asks children to think about what it would be like to be a cloud, a tree, a star, a butterfly or a dog, if they couldn’t be themselves.
“It gets the kids to think about what if they weren’t themselves, and how you could spur their imagination to talk about those things,” he said.
Like many children’s books, Jamison’s is one of repetition.
After reading a number of children’s books over and over again as a father and grandfather, Jamison recognizes the benefits repetition provides. It makes a book accessible, gives children a hook to join in with, and makes the reader and listener feel like they are part of the story.
“They like to hear things over and over, and they like to read the same books,” he said. “I’ve probably read the same books to these kids over 100 times. I think they like to memorize it so they can act like they can read before they can read.”
Schisler said she was intimidated by the thought of drawing a picture for all 30 pages of the book. She enjoys art, but she’s not an artist. She joked that writing a children’s book is much easier than illustrating one.
She drew several pictures of clouds, trees, stars, butterflies and dogs to go along with the story. One of the pictures is of a butterfly landing on a girl’s nose. Not long after she drew that picture, a butterfly landed on Abby’s nose.
“It was just like in the book,” Jamison said. “We had a good laugh about that.”
The last page of the book asks the listener, “What would you be if you couldn’t be you?” It features a question mark filled in with all of the illustrations from the book. That is Abby’s favorite picture in the book.
“She got to see me work on the drawings a lot, so she already knew most of the pictures,” Schisler said of her daughter. “She tried to practice drawing with me.”
As owner and operator of Foggy Noggin Brewing, Jamison has been brewing English-style ales out of the shed in his back yard since 2010. The beer is brewed on a half-barrel brewing system. He transformed his garage into the brewery’s tasting room.
Schisler is a stay-at-home mom to Abby and Wesley and a part-owner of the family’s brewery. She also likes to help her father brew beer.
Before COVID-19 hit, Foggy Noggin, 22329 53rd Ave. SE, Bothell, was open on Saturdays. Right now, you can fill growlers to go and purchase select bottles from 4 to 5 p.m. on Fridays. You also can pick up a copy of “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?”
Foggy Noggin’s 10th anniversary was March 20. The family makes about 60% of Foggy Noggin’ annual revenue in that one weekend. Because of COVID-19, this year they made only 10% of that. “It was our worst anniversary weekend in 10 years,” Jamison said.
Before writing children’s books, Jamison was the founder of Northwest Brew News, the region’s largest subscription-based beer publication, serving as its editor and publisher from 1994 to 1997.
Father and daughter said “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?” turned out better than they ever imagined.
“It was really important to get this done,” Jamison said. “It was a passion for both of us.”
“It’s really cool,” Schisler said. “It’s cool to see something you did with your name on it.”
Already, the book is one of Jamison’s grandchildren’s favorite books. Abby, who is in kindergarten now, likes to read the book to her grandfather.
Jamison likes to ask the kids what their favorite pictures are, as well as ask follow-up questions that promote imagination: “If clouds could talk, what would they talk about?” “Where do clouds go at night?” “Do clouds have friends?” “Are dark clouds mad?”
“Kids have no reservations,” he said. “When you ask them questions like that, their minds go to town.”
Father and daughter aren’t stopping at just one children’s book. Jamison has already written two more books, and Schisler is working on the illustrations. “Hopefully, these won’t take as long,” she said.
They are “Who’s Going To Eat That Bite?” and “A Day At The Lake Without Color.” Just like in “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?”, these books rely on repetition to help children internalize the structure of stories and, perhaps, give them a starting point for making their own.
“Who’s Going to Eat That Bite?” was inspired by a game Jamison plays with his grandkids to get them eat their lunch.
“They don’t like to sit still very long, and so when it’s meal time, they just want to take a bite and then run around and do stuff until they want to come back and eat,” he said.
He’ll ask them to take a bite for the clock so that it will keep ticking, or for a painting so that the colors will turn brighter, etc.
“It’s really fun to put these ideas in their head,” he said. “Before they know it, they’ve eaten all of their food.”
In “A Day At The Lake Without Color,” a child goes to the lake but everything they see on the way is in black and white. Then, at the lake, the child falls asleep reading a book. When they wake up, everything that they see on the way back from the lake is now in color.
That storyline isn’t inspired by a game with his grandchildren. The idea for the book woke him up at 3:30 a.m.
“I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up and put it into writing,” Jamison said. “It took me about three hours, and I had it all written down.”
Jamison might not stop at three children’s books. The silly conversations he has with his grandchildren continue to inspire story ideas. The sillier the idea, the better the story.
“I live on 2.5 acres, and there are lots of fir trees with needles everywhere,” he said. “We were talking about (how) in the summertime you don’t see them, so where do they go? I said they go to the bottom of the ocean, and that’s why the water stays there.”
The book idea: “There’s this guy who sees all these needles in the ocean, and as he cleans them all out, then the ocean drains.”
“What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?”
By Jim Jamison
Tellwell Talent. 30 pages. $13.99 (paperback)