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Mama Jess has a children’s story to tell

Local author Jessica Calic has released the first children’s book that captures life’s ‘beautiful little moments and memories’

Jessica Calic remembers reading a lot in elementary school, especially books by Beverly Cleary.

Cleary, who is one of the world’s most celebrated children’s writers, has often been credited for capturing emotional realism in her stories featuring popular characters like Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins.

“I remember staying up late to read,” Calic said.

“It was such a good escape.”

As a child, the new author would often craft stories to share with family members.

“At family gatherings, I would write down stories and read them aloud to my family,” laughs Calic.

“Telling stories and getting lost in a book is something I loved so much when I was a kid.”

Throughout her schooling, reading and writing are the subjects in which she excels.

After graduating from high school, Calic left his hometown of Sault for four years to study communications at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.

“I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and then returned home to the Sault,” she says.

“I’m a homebody and I love living here in Sault. I am happy to be able to raise my children so close to my family.

She and her husband Paul are raising two children, Jack (4 years old) and Emmy (20 months).

With the pressure of raising a young family, Calic finds it a little harder to read for herself as much as she did in her youth.

“I still constantly read with my children,” she laughs.

“I love that they love to read. We read a wide variety of books together. Right now my son is really into non-fiction books. He also loves fiction and storytelling, but he loves learning… my daughter is really getting into books now. She loves good night moon by Margaret Wise Brown, who was also one of my son’s favourites.

It was these reading experiences with her children that gave Calic the impetus to write her own story, titled Can I have pancakes for breakfast?

“I decided to write my book, obviously for my children, but also because I wanted to do something they would be proud of,” she says.

With all the fun happening in the world today, Calic felt the need to remember to appreciate the time she spent with her children while they were young.

“I needed to remind myself to appreciate the time given to me and the precious moments I had at home with my children. I realize how quickly time flies and how quickly children grow up.

It was a message she thought other parents could relate to.

Calic notes that although the book is aimed at children, she really sees its message connecting with the adults who read it.

“I think it’s relatable,” she says.

“My hope is that the book will become a keepsake for the child who receives it. I thought a special message could be written in the book to let the child know how much he is loved.

(Read a blog that Calic wrote and why she wrote the book.)

Once she wrote the story, Calic says she considered a variety of publishing options.

“When I first had my manuscript ready, I sent it off to some traditional publishing houses…without expecting it to be picked up,” she says.

“I know they get thousands of unsolicited manuscripts all the time. However, I heard from a few of them who wanted to move my manuscript forward in their publication process. The fact that a few of them even read my manuscript and liked it enough to even consider moving it forward gave me so much more confidence in myself and the book.

Ultimately, she decided to go the self-publishing route.

“It was the best solution for me because I could keep control over the book and do it exactly the way I wanted.”

After interviewing a number of self-publishing companies, she chose Tellwell.

“It was great working with them and the process was smooth.”

The company has also put Calic in touch with several illustrators who have worked for them before.

“One of them really stood out,” she says, noting that she landed on an artist named Stephanie from illustration company Jupiters Muse.

“She’s also from Ontario and her style is really what I imagined for the book. I just felt a connection with her and her work, it was an easy choice to go with her.

With Can I have pancakes for breakfast? released and available now, Calic hopes to begin promoting as pandemic restrictions allow.

“I would absolutely love to do readings and attend local markets to promote and sell the book.”

In the meantime, she has already started writing a second book.

“I really love writing and I want to post a few more,” she says.

“I love the emotional connection books can have and hope mine can hold a special place in readers’ hearts and homes.”

For Calic, it was her children’s reaction to the book that made it an instant hit.

“My daughter loves the illustrations in the book and knows it’s ‘mommy’s book’,” she says.

“My son was jumping for joy and telling me he was so proud of me. He loves telling people that his mother is a real author.”

Hardcover and paperback versions of Can I have pancakes for breakfast? are currently available on Amazon.ca and Chapters Indigo in Canada, and on Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles in the United States

Locally, the book can be purchased at Hogan’s Homestead, Stone’s Office Supply, and Absolutely Delicious.

Local stores interested in selling the book can contact Jessica Calic via email.

For more information about Jessica Calic or to have a copy of the book delivered locally, visit her website, Facebook page or Instagram page.