A Big Year

It has been a big year for the Dillard family. In a short span of five busy days, we graduated all three of our sons — our oldest from college and our twin sons from high school. And I guess you could say our family conversations have also “graduated.” We’ve gone from the early years with talk of playgrounds and farm animals to teenage topics like sports schedules and driver’s licenses to our current discussions on things like dorm life and 401(k)s.

As I take notes for this week’s blog post, I’ve been thinking back to when my own kids were picture book age. At the time, we were living in Lewisburg, a small, central Pennsylvania town. Our friendly borough was surrounded by rolling hills of farmland, and it was almost like living in the pages of a picture book. We would take the wagon to the farmer’s market every Wednesday. There were mornings of big wheel races down the sidewalk to preschool and afternoons of snowball fights at the bus stop. And there were picture books. We had stacks of them all around the house, ready not only for bedtime reading but also for any spur-of-the-moment storytimes, which happened quite often.

It was during this time that I created COWHIDE-AND-SEEK. I wasn’t even writing yet, but I woke up one night around 2am with the idea of a cow character who accidentally leaves her farm and (unknowingly) creates chaos wherever she goes. I loved it so much that I jumped out of bed and quickly wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. The next day, I started writing.

My kids were Bessie’s first readers. And out of all my manuscripts, Bessie was always their favorite. Over the years, they witnessed how the story grew and changed, revision after revision (after revision!). So now, it seems fitting that as my kids graduate and move on to bigger things, my empty nest will soon be happily busy with my new “baby,” a picture book that they helped inspire, nurture, and celebrate alongside me. xoxo 🙂



17 Responses to “A Big Year”

  1. Vijaya

    Oh my goodness!!! Congratulations on Cowhide and Congratulations on the graduations!!! How time flies!!! It’s always great to read the genesis of stories and how long they really take to become books that you can hold.

    • mirkabreen

      Oh, they were young… They still are, mind you. But a different sort of young. This June must have been a huge cap ‘n gown time at your home.

    • Sheri Dillard

      Thanks so much, Vijaya! I just saw that you have a high school senior this year. Is this your first graduate? Enjoy the year — it will fly by! 🙂

  2. Ashley

    Sheri, I love that you’re writing a blog! My very, very favorite thing to do when I taught second grade was to read to them! At that age, they liked both picture books and chapter books. I loved when I could leave them in suspense at the end of chapters! I could usually be talked into another chapter before a math lesson. I loved reading to my kids so much too. We still talk about how Will wanted me to read Olive, The Other Reindeer all year round, night after night. I am beyond thrilled that Bessie is going to be soon known by a wider audience, as she (actually you) so well deserve. ❤️

  3. Debra K Shumaker

    Love this! I cannot wait to read this book! Your boys must be SO excited! 🙂

  4. janlcoates

    Love that picture – always fun to remember them when you could pick them up:) Congratulations on your book!

  5. EvelynKrieger

    Congratulations, Sheri on birthing a book and “launching” three sons. My 3rd “baby” is a junior in college. Empty nest was one of the most difficult, yet interesting, transitions. To quote another writer: “It’s more of a revolving door.” Hopefully, one day your grandbabies will be enjoying your books.