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South Jordan Journal

Jordan Ridge Students Learn From Writer, Illustrator

May 01, 2016 12:45PM ● By Julie Slama

The husband-wife team of Mark and Caralyn Buehner shared with Jordan Ridge students on April 22 about illustrating and writing children’s books, including their best-selling book, “Snowmen at Night.” Here, they show students a book dummy. — Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The husband-wife team of Mark and Caralyn Buehner talked to Jordan Ridge students, sharing with them how they became children’s books illustrator and writer, how they get ideas and how books become published.
“It’s a connection to literature that our students can have,” Principal Cathy Anderson said about their April 22 visit. “Here they are in front of them, allowing students to learn that real people do real things and they can learn how a simple idea can transform into a book in their hands.”
Although Anderson is a fan of the Buehners’ popular “Snowmen” picture books, it was the school Parent-Teacher Association that invited the team to the school and bought each teacher a book that the Buehners autographed.
Cara Buehner recalled where they got the idea for their best-selling book, “Snowmen at Night.”
“Mark wasn’t feeling the best, but he promised the kids he’d help them build a snowman,” she said.“So he went outside and helped them build one in the front yard.Soon after, he went to bed. When we woke up, here was the snowman, moved about 30 yards right next to our front door,” she said.
Cara remembered telling people that this funny thing happened to them, so she ended up writing it down as a poem and that sparked the storybook.
When a student asked how the snowman really moved, Cara said later they discovered some friends stopped by to bring her husband some soup and bread, but they arrived to find the house all dark.So they moved the snowman all the way across the yard, faced the snowman toward the front door and put a can of soup and bread in the snowman’s arms.
“I don’t know what happened to the bread, but I suppose some critters appreciated it.But it all began with this funny story that happened to us so it shows that ideas can come from anywhere,” she said.
Since that initial book, the duo has published five other Snowman books with another one in the works.“Snowman at Night,” is Mark’s favorite book, and within each page drawing, he has included hidden pictures of a T-Rex, a rabbit, Santa’s face and a cat.
“That was fun to include,” Mark Buehner said.“We want students to see the different options and professions they can have as an author or illustrator. I didn't realize there were such options in the arts when I was younger.”
In fact, Beuhner recalled that although his wife loved to read, he wasn’t a fluent reader until high school even though he was very artistic as a child. He showed the students how he could create a mouse out of the numeral 6 and how a sideways S could become a cowboy.
He then asked students to help name items that could be good story ideas and demonstrated his artistic ability by drawing possible scenes on a white board.
They each began their work separately, working with other artists and authors.
“I loved reading so much, that writing became natural to me.Mark liked art so much, he wanted to make a living out of it, so after we both started out, we thought, why not do books together?” said Cara Buehner, who read some of her favorite books to the students, such as “Would I Ever Lie To You?”
In their presentation, they walked students through the book process, from rough draft to finished manuscript, from sketches to illustration.They showed students a book dummy, with pages taped together.
“Sometimes the art work says something that the words don’t,” Cara Buehner said.“When we put the words and sketches together, we have a better understanding of how they work together.”
The couple has a number of other children’s books they’ve published together, including their newest book, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Mouse,” which offers them the meaning of celebrating traditions from the point of view of the mouse.