Some of the fondest and most comforting memories from childhood often include parents reading their kids children’s books before bed, soothing voices and calming narratives slowly easing them into a deep sleep.
Bart King and Jacob Wenzka, an author-illustrator duo, will be launching their third children’s book titled “Do Not Read This Book At Bedtime” at Hendershot’s Coffee Bar this Saturday. This book will follow “Juniper Gets Wet” and “The Girl Who Kept Night In Her Closet.” Despite what its title suggests, the third book is inspired by meditation and teaches both children and adults to relax to help them fall asleep.
“It’s meant to be somewhat practical,” King said. “I hope kids can pay attention to their breathing and their body and really learn what it means to relax.”
Both King and Wenzka graduated from the University of Georgia at different years and with different majors. King graduated in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, while Wenzka graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with a focus in drawing and painting.
Although they now have three published books, the duo never expected to end up where they are now.
“I never pictured myself writing children’s books, because I mainly wrote fiction and poetry while I was in grad school,” King said. “But when I had my own kid and I started reading a lot of children’s books and I realized that some were great and some were just horrible, I thought, ‘Oh, I could do this.’”
King currently runs a communications agency called New Growth Communications and works exclusively with clients in sustainability and environmental work, while Wenzka works three days a week at the Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center as a vascular ultrasound technician.
“I’m working a job that still gives me enough time to do art in the studio and also spend time with my family,” Wenzka said.
King and Wenzka’s worlds collided when they met in 2013 while playing with their daughters in their neighborhood’s new “kiddie” pool.
“We met around the kiddie pool talking about stuff, and when [Jacob] told me his name, I connected the dots and realized that he had done paintings around town that I loved,” King said. “I told him that I had been wanting to [write] a children’s book and [later on], we published our first children’s book.”
The process of making the books is a collaborative effort, although most of the work done on each book happens individually.
“[King] usually sends a written story and I’ll come up with a couple of concept drawings or [he’ll] even send me some basic stick figure drawings to show his vision,” Wenzka said. “Computers are useful because I’ll just upload my works onto Google Drive and we can talk on the phone and write a whole entire book without ever being in the same room.”
The upcoming event will consist of a book signing, coloring pages for the children and a reading.
“I really like getting… to see [people’s] reactions to a book… because they have their own interpretations,” Wenzka said. “A lot of them haven’t read this new book, so I’m really excited to see everyone’s [responses].”
The duo hopes to continue to publish at least one book a year and, over time, they hope to reach a larger audience.
“We’ve had really good local luck and our friends and families have always been supportive,” Wenzka said. “But we would definitely love to connect with more people through our books.”