Lawnteel the Lentil
One day I was cooking lentils with my spouse, Annie Chau. Looking in the pot, I wondered: What might a young lentil do with their friends?
I brought a character named Lawnteel to a weekend workshop on children’s writing led by Canadian publishing legends Rick Wilks and Cynthia Good. Feedback was positive, and afterwards, my friend Justin Gregg offered to publish a picture book through his imprint, Outside the Lines Press. My friend Emily Kane (also my main tattooist) made plant sketches for additional inspiration. Annie thought it would be fun to illustrate, so we got to work.
When the layout of the book felt ready, another friend, Warren Robertson, did fresh headshots for us. Two children’s authors from my writing community, Robert Paul Weston and Dave Atkinson, sent along excellent blurbs. With smiles on our faces and laughter in our hearts, we published Lawnteel at the Store in 2015. “I’ve never related more to the adventures of a lentil,” said Dave.
Lawnteel’s friends are Bluuki the black bean and Shick the chick pea. We toured with our legume gang to local bookstores and libraries. Kids liked the classic narrative tension and clean, bright illustrations. My writing group at the time, which included Justin along with children’s author Anne Louise MacDonald, workshopped a second story in the series introducing a new character, Kikko the kidney bean. We published Lawnteel at Home in 2016. Anne Louise wrote a blurb as did Chef Michael Smith, who said, “Lawnteel and friends do a great job of introducing kids to these amazing foods.”
The next few years were busy as Annie and I had our first child. Then, just before we had our second child, we published Lawnteel at School in 2019. Sheree Fitch, also known as Canada’s Dr. Seuss, wrote a blurb celebrating the continuing adventures of Lawnteel. “Endearing!” she said. “Simply told, beautifully illustrated.”
Life continues to be busy, with two kids of our own now. Annie is also in the midst of a PhD in social justice education, and I’m primarily writing memoir, having done MFA in creative nonfiction. But things are still, ahem, slowing simmering for our family’s picture book series. A fourth book in the series is in the works—and a coloring book too!