Sandi Bates Publishes Children’s Book
Updated: Jul 26
An online watercolor class focused on expressive animals had unexpected consequences for Anderson Artists Guild (AAG) member Sandi Bates. That class with artist Sarah Stokes inspired Bates to keep going. She painted a series of note cards, started naming the animals, and ultimately decided to create a series of animals from A to Z.
A talk with fellow AAG member Mary McAlister, who has herself illustrated a children’s book, led her to another AAG member, Craig Johnson. When Bates asked him about the possibility of turning her paintings into a children’s book, he advised that more information needed to be included, so she came up with a focus on how animals are affected by climate change. The result is her first book, called Fantastical Animals Living in a Changing World A-Z, which she wrote and illustrated.
The year-long process from inspiration to publication has been challenging, exhausting, and ultimately fulfilling. Bates culled free sources like Pixabay.com to find photos of animals as a starting point, read books about climate change, created 29 paintings (including 26 animals, an extra page featuring pelicans, and the front
and back covers). All except the covers are four by six inches. Johnson helped in several ways, including laying out the text and artwork, and then creating the book. He had very good material to work with in that another AAG member, Barbara Crown, dropped what she was working on and made fine color-balanced, high-resolution scans of the original paintings.
The narrator is Pierce the Polar Bear, who introduces readers to animals like Arlo the Alpaca and Leo the Lion. The animals tell about themselves, like how fast they run or how tall they are, while the narrator explains the effects of climate change on their lives. The paintings are whimsical, with bright, unrealistic colors. The reading age is elementary through middle school.
Once Bates completed a draft, some family members and friends who work in education read it and offered advice, especially to match the prose with the illustrations. For instance, someone pointed out that the story mentioned a kangaroo’s joey in her pouch, so Bates had to add that to the painting. The story also referred to both male and female lions while the illustration featured just a male, so she made a new painting. And McAlister applied her red pen to the proof to make sure there were no grammatical errors or faux pas lurking between the lines.
The book has been self-published with an initial run of 500 copies. Bookstores can order it via CraigJohnson15@hotmail.com and get good discounts. Individuals can order it directly at https://store88593282.company.site.
Since Bates has a marketing background, she sought innovative ways to promote her book. One is a partnership with MyFahlo.com, which sells bracelets with GPS tracking that allows children to follow the movements of their favorite animal. The company sent Bates free bracelets to use at a kickoff signing in her neighborhood and have named her as an ambassador for the brand.
What’s next for Bates? Another book, of course. She has visions of a whole A-Z series, each one featuring one of the animals in Fantastical Animals Living in a Changing World A-Z.