If you were to create an imaginary world based on your favorite parts of Wyoming, what would you include? A favorite restaurant? A special tree? The view from your window?

Over the course of the last year, three Wyoming moms worked together to create a kids’ book about Wyoming that would speak to what we all love about our city, but also give our city’s kids a little treasure to grow up reading that will always remind them of home. They call it Good Morning, Wyoming, and it has just gone on sale at retailers around the city.

Encouraging Shopping Local

The idea behind the book Good Morning, Wyoming, began with Councilmember Sarah Stankorb Taylor, who heard from business owners in Wyoming that they could use more foot-traffic.

“It was this puzzle—how can we get more people in the doors, create some new enthusiasm around frequenting our Wyoming retailers?” says Stankorb Taylor, who also works full-time as a writer and is raising two elementary-aged kids of her own. “I know how important family is in Wyoming, and I thought if we could create a treasure for kids to incentivize parents and grandparents to stop in somewhere new or somewhere they hadn’t been in a while, that might be helpful encouragement to shop and dine even more often in Wyoming.”

Stankorb Taylor, whose writing is more journalistic, realized early on that she’d need an expert children’s book author and a talented artist to help make the book a reality. Stankorb Taylor says she was “unbelievably fortunate” to get Wyoming native Emma Carlson Berne to agree to work on the book and help guide its creation. Carlson Berne has written over 80 children’s and young adult books and is the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Library’s 2018 Writer in Residence.

Then, Marlena Hebenstreit, an award-winning portrait artist whose home-studio is also in Wyoming, agreed to create original art for the book. “There would simply be no book without Marlena,” says Stankorb Taylor. “Heading into this, I didn’t fully appreciate how much work it takes to illustrate a picture book, let alone do it with museum-quality art.”

The three met at Half-Day Cafe last fall to begin sketching out an outline for the book. Carlson Berne’s background in children’s books came in handy as the team began wondering how they would fit so many elements from the city into a kids’-length picture book. “Since we are a small, cohesive village, the physical landscape of Wyoming is jammed with places that are special to each of us,” said Carlson Berne. “We started throwing around elements we wanted to include and pretty soon, we realized we’d have to start whittling our list or this book would be 200 pages long.”

As Carlson Berne finalized the copy for the book, it was Hebenstreit’s turn to begin painting. Stankorb Taylor describes how exciting it was to visit Hebenstreit’s studio as the project progressed. “All around the room were these images of Martin Luther King, Jr., that Marlena had been commissioned to paint, which showed the depth of her talent. Then, in that same studio were all these paintings of squirrels around Wyoming!” says Stankorb Taylor. “It was astonishing to see someone with that sort of range.”

Hebenstreit says illustrating Good Morning, Wyoming was a joy and a challenge at the same time.

“I used a ton of artist’s license, sometimes moving places and changing the season mid-spread to get everything in we wanted,” said Hebenstreit. “My other goal was to replicate the small town charm that we love about Wyoming, especially in the sweet squirrel characters. Work on this book kept levity alive in the studio.”

We Just Published a Book!

Good Morning, Wyoming is now hot off the presses. Paging through the book, families will find nods to many Wyoming favorites: sledding, making music, creating art, stopping in to eat at Wyoming restaurants. Some pages are a veritable “I Spy” of Wyoming-themed treasures only a resident would recognize.

Hebenstreit actually based many of the squirrels in the book on kids who live in Wyoming, but she’s not telling which ones. “We’re hoping any kid in Wyoming will read the book and see him or herself in its pages,” she said.

Shop Local, Wyoming

Starting this week, Wyoming residents will see pop-up sales happening at shops and retailers around the city. The book will hopefully be just one more draw for our local businesses, and the team behind the book hopes it draws residents out to try someplace new or see an old favorite in a new light.

“One-of-a-kind shops and restaurants are part of what makes our community a great place to live,” said Patty Pfahler, owner of Patina at Home. Pfahler rattles off a list of items shoppers can pick up along with their copy of Good Morning, Wyoming: “From plants and candles to furniture, we offer unique and fun items for your home (and gift-giving).”

Sara Aschliman, owner of Wyoming Community Coffee will be selling the book along with a few other holiday items. She reflects upon what it means to be a small business owner in Wyoming, saying, “The awesome thing about having local Wyoming residents frequent the shop is that there is so much shared in being part of the community. I love that they love that this is very much their coffee shop in their community where they get to support and connect with their neighbors.”

Good Morning, Wyoming is a children’s book, a child’s eye view of our city, but it is also a token of appreciation for all the people whose investment in our community make it such a special place.

“It’s a testament to the creatives we have right here in Wyoming, that we could even pull this off,” says Stankorb Taylor. “And it also really makes you realize how important our small businesses are to the texture of the city.” All involved hope Wyoming shoppers will use picking up the book as an excuse to explore Wyoming anew.

Good Morning, Wyoming is available for $12 at the following retailers:

Station Family + BBQ
Tēla Bar + Kitchen
Destine’s Du Jour Wyoming Community Coffee
Gabby’s Café Wyoming Family Dentistry
Half-Day Café Wyoming Fine Arts Center
LaRosa’s Wyoming Wyoming Florist
Patina at Home
Wyoming Pastry Shop

* Also available at the Wyoming City Building.

Snap a photo as you buy your book, say where you got it, and encourage your friends to also #ShopWyoming!

The book was made possible thanks to generous support from the Wyoming Recreation Foundation, What’s Up Wyoming, WhatsUpWyoming.com and the Wyoming Art Show. All city profits from the book will go toward community events.