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Art Beat
A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Keeping it sweet

Ian Kerr

The nation’s leading journal of book reviews, Kirkus Reviews, critiques thousands of books through their Indie program every year. Of those books, only one hundred nationwide make the list of Best Indie Books each year in the December issue of Kirkus Reviews magazine. One of those chosen few was a children’s book by Elissa Kerr. The Sweetest Season is a children’s book that Kerr published through her business, Scenic Route Publishing.

“Kirkus Reviews is an editorial review organization, and it’s known for its critical and honest reviews of authors’ work,” Kerr says. “It was quite an honor to be listed and recognized for my debut picture book, especially as a brand new author.”

A conversation with Elissa Kerr
A conversation with Elissa Kerr.

No longer a new author, Kerr has her name now on two more children’s books—Sunkissed and Honey Harvest. While The Sweetest Season tells the story of tapping maple trees for syrup, Sunkissed tells the story of planting seeds, and Honey Harvest, about beekeeping.

Credit Scenic Route Publishing

“I had been playing with the idea of publishing a children’s book for some time,” Kerr says. “It has been a life goal, kind of a bucket list item for me. When starting from scratch, I played with a million different ideas and what topic you could really sink your teeth into and spend a lot of time working on, and for me, the Maple Syrup Festival at the Kalamazoo Nature Center has become a family tradition.”

Kerr connected online with a children’s book illustrator, Zoe Saunders, who lives in England and was happy to provide the illustrations for all three books. Establishing her own publishing business, Kerr was then able to keep control over every facet of publication and marketing.

“That was a big draw for me to self-publish my books,” Kerr says. “Because when you traditionally publish, oftentimes your publisher selects your illustrator. Having that control over illustrations was very important to me.”

Part of her publishing business is a partnership between Kerr and several elementary schools nationwide. Kerr, who has a degree in elementary and special education from Salve Regina University, also runs a pen pal program through which she guides children through the writing and publishing process.

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