Granddaughter inspires local author to write children’s book

Granddaughter inspires local author to write children’s book

Bruce Wilcox and his granddaughter, Chloe, show off Wilcox’s new children’s book about a little girl named Chloe and her sheepdog, Tobey. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – It was seven years ago when Bruce Wilcox of North Smithfield started writing down a story for his granddaughter, Chloe.

The story followed a young girl and her loyal sheepdog, Tobey, as they had adventures on the family farm. Chloe and Tobey have the run of the farm as they race to find their lost sheep, Ellie, before dark.

Now, seven years later, the story has come to life. Stillwater River Publications, a Pawtucket-based company, published “Sheep Tales – The Adventures of Tobey and Chloe” in December. It’s the first published book for Wilcox, who said the story was inspired by his granddaughter’s love of reading.

“When this one was a baby, I was reading stories to her. She loved to go to the library and to go to Barnes and Noble,” he said during an interview at his home.

Wilcox is also working on a historical book inspired by his father-in-law’s experiences in the U.S. Navy during World War II, currently in the second edit phase, but said a children’s book presented unique challenges. He spent several years editing and looking for an illustrator who could capture the personality of the character inspired by Chloe. Eventually, he found Jamie Forgetta, a Rhode Island-based illustrator who had worked on several other children’s books. Forgetta used a photograph of Chloe when she was 3 years old to create the whimsical scene on the book’s front cover.

“I had a lot of fun writing the story and I enjoyed seeing it come together,” said Wilcox.

Chloe, 8, told The Valley Breeze she was excited to see the book and show it to her classmates at North Smithfield Elementary School, where her grandfather did a reading last month.

“I used to check in on him and give him ideas and details for the story. So I was very excited about it,” she said.

Wilcox is a member of the Association of Rhode Island Authors, a local authors’ group he said was instrumental in helping connect him to resources and support him through the publishing process. He recommended other budding authors connect with a group to help encourage them and answer questions.

As for the next step, Wilcox said a sequel may be in store. Chloe hopes her goldendoodle, Landon, might make an appearance, though she admits she and her grandfather will need help pulling it all together.

“I am not a very good drawer. We’ll have to have Jamie again,” she said.

Wilcox will hold a book signing at the North Smithfield Public Library on Thursday, May 9, at 4 p.m. “Sheep Tales – The Adventures of Tobey and Chloe” is available from the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites and at www.stillwaterpress.com.