COURTESY THE CAROLAN FAMILY
Terry and Joanna Carolan merged their writing and art skills to create three lively children's books.
Marriage of words and images results in national book award
TUCKED far away in boxes in Sydney lay sheets of paper covered with Joanna Carolan's watercolors, waiting for a story to bring them to life.
In the little town of Omao, Kauai, whimsical rhymes slept in Dr. Terry Carolan's mind, waiting for illustrations to awaken them.
COURTESY THE CAROLAN FAMILY
It all began with "Ten Days in Hawaii."
After a decade the two finally came together at the Kauai Hyatt, where the masters of both works had come to do their bodies good at a yoga class. That meeting led to five years of courtship and then marriage in 2000.
Two years later the couple, both in their second marriages, gave birth to "Ten Days in Hawaii." A year later the book got an honorable mention at the Hawaii Book Publishers Association's Ka Palapala Po'okela awards for Excellence in Children's Illustrative or Photographic Books.
"I don't have children myself," Joanna, 46, said. "I love kids. ... I never met the right guy at the right time, so at least I can write a children's book."
The two have now written three books together, and Joanna enjoys sharing them with children. "The kids are so imaginative. ... That's really fun, to kind of think like a child."
Their newest book, "Where Are My Slippers?" is a finalist for an Independent Publishers Award (called IPPYs), in the picture book (under age 6) category. The national award is open to all books published in 2005 by independent publishers; the Carolans' book was the only one from Hawaii among the finalists.
Jim Barnes, editor and awards director, said the book was "a little rough around the edges" but really charming.
It was reviewed by six judges and several children, he said. "It went well (with the children). They enjoyed the vibrant colors."
The six judges looked at overall quality, with an emphasis on originality. "We really feel that's the role of independent publishers -- to be more courageous and creative," Barnes said.
The book turns the job of learning colors into a story about a dog who couldn't find his slippers, but found many others of different colors. "The book's Hawaiian emphasis" -- dogs surfing, cats in hula skirts, etc. -- also captured the judges' attention, Barnes said.
Although the book didn't win the award -- it went to Jill Lamere's "Upside Down" -- Joanna was proud to be among the finalists. (More than 3,500 books from the United States and Canada were entered this year.)
If they reprint the book, "we get to put the sticker on the books," Joanna said -- the "sticker" being a gold seal that lets the readers know the book is an award winner.
Born in Australia, Dr. Terry Carolan moved to Hawaii to be chief resident for the University of Hawaii's pediatric program. In 1978 he opened his own practice in Lihue.
FROM "B IS FOR BEACH, AN ALPHABET BOOK"
Youngsters learn that "S is for Surfing" in Terry and Joanna Carolan's "B Is for Beach, an Alphabet Book."
During his first marriage, Terry's mother visited him and her four grandsons, spending many hours kayaking, riding dirt bikes, surfing and snorkeling. She was so impressed with all their outings that she told her son to write a book.
Years later, "Ten Days in Hawaii" was dedicated to his mother -- "For Elizabeth Carolan, who once spent 10 days in Hawaii."
At 61, Terry still treats children, and while he helps them with their illnesses, they help him with his books. "I spend six days a week with kids," he said. "They love nonsense rhymes and little stories. ... Kids say all kinds of stuff, and I remember it and make a rhyme with it."
Terry shares these stories with Joanna on their hiking adventures. "I tell a story, like, 'Some kid came in today and said this and this and this.' We're laughing, and I figure we can fit that somewhere in the books."
When they return home, Terry passes his ideas to Joanna, and she starts drawing. "The hard part is the illustrations," Terry said. "That's really time-consuming."
COURTESY THE CAROLAN FAMILY
Pediatrician Terry Carolan enjoys reading his storybooks to children.
Joanna Carolan was born in San Francisco and moved to Kauai during her freshman year in high school. After graduating from Kapaa High, she moved to Sydney to study ceramics. It was there that she put together the watercolor illustrations that became the inspiration for the couple's books.
Joanna returned to Kauai in 1991 to care for her grandparents and opened Banana Patch Studio. Hurricane Iniki hit the following year, and Joanna was forced to take a different approach to make a living.
"No one was buying art," Joanna said. "It was a difficult time for the island but a special time because the people who were here pulled together."
Joanna expanded her business into painting ceramic tiles. "Everyone was rebuilding." By the time business revived, she said, a lot of the artists had left the island, so she picked up new accounts.
"As the visitor industry started coming back, stores were looking for a lot of things," she said. "People wanted things that were made in Hawaii." Joanna's one-woman art studio now employs 20, offering a variety of gift items, including her husband's photographs of Kauai's flora.
"Where Are My Slippers?"
was printed by Banana Patch Press, an arm of Joanna's Banana Patch Studio, and is available at Borders Books and Music and Barnes & Noble stores, as well as through the Web site bananapatchpress.com