Chuck Brooks Viewpoint: Three books in, but will there be a fourth?
It's November. And if you're reading this on Saturday, Nov. 4, then I'm likely sitting inside the student center at RHS, watching hundreds of people who come calling for this annual event each and every year on the first Saturday of November. The RHS Choir sponsors this Arts and Crafts show each year. This year marks the third year Andre and I have participated.
I've never really shared with you the process of how our three books came to be nor have you been given insight into various pages from the three books. I thought perhaps this would be an appropriate time to do so.
In my first year of writing this column, I wanted to give readers a Christmas present — something different from what I had been writing, so I borrowed a holiday favorite and used it to tell a new story regarding the Rosemount community. 'Twas The Night Before Christmas In Rosemount." Once finished, I felt the finished tale would make for a fun Christmas book for Rosemount. It had always been my dream to pen a book and have a student illustrate it. Enter Andre Nelson. Andre was a junior at the time, and I knew him from class as well as Student Council. Word on the street was Andre was a heck of an artist, so right before we were to leave for the holidays, I asked him to read my poem. I then threw the idea of a possible collaboration. As much as drawing buildings and people was foreign to him, he was more than up for the challenge.
By spring break, Andre had a storyboard of our new book. After a discussion at Starbucks, he had what he needed to start the sketching stage. That summer, we sat down again to look at his sketches, and after more discussion, he was off to the races with the painting stage. Mind you, Andre was a senior at RHS at this point. It wasn't like his life wasn't already full.
Unless you got the inside scoop from Andre or myself, here's something you didn't know about that first book. On one of the pages, you will find three nametags at the bottom with the names "Doris," "Doc" and "Maynard." These were three people who had passed recently and they were, in some way, connected to RHS. Doris was our bookkeeper when I arrived. She was a character and a hard worker. Doc was the disciplinarian administrator when I arrived and everyone loved "Doc." Maynard was married to the principal's secretary for whom we all had the greatest admiration and respect. I knew him and felt, along with the other two, it would be fitting to recognize them in subtle fashion. After all, it was a story about the community.
The response to our first book was humbling. We were most pleased and by February, I was already missing the creative collaboration with Andre. I began thinking about a second book concept, one that would be less sentimental and more humorous. Bring on "The Twelve Days BEFORE Christmas In Rosemount." I threw the idea to Andre and, despite starting college that coming fall, he was excited to create another. Eight months later, we had book No. 2. As in the first book, you'll find another name on the page representing the First State Bank in Rosemount. There are five stars hanging from the ceiling and each star has a letter on it. "D-A-V-I-D." I wanted to recognize the president of the bank with whom I had a wacky friendship and who had passed the previous summer. The community more than supported our new book during the holidays of 2014.
The following season we had nothing new to offer. Andre was well into college life and I had no new ideas. Then came the topic of the 100th anniversary for RHS. Having been around for two of the three high schools to "break off" from RHS, I wanted to tell our story. I thought it a fitting time. Andre was on board and by October 2016, we had our third book, "The Little School That Could: Celebrating 100 Years Of Students In Rosemount." Needless to say, this too was a hit. The book was our largest, it had the most drawings and we went glue with the binding. It cost more for us to produce, but we felt the final product was worthy of the expense. Again, it was and continues to be well received. And again, we put in the names of the district's first four graduates.
Will there be a fourth book? Who knows, but it's a popular question. You can always get any of the three at Rosemount Floral, but if you're sitting around this Saturday morning, come to the school. There are over 150 vendors, and you're likely to find something to suit your fancy. Start your Christmas shopping early. And if you know me, you know....'Tis The Season! Fa La La La La!