Maine-based independent publishing company launches children’s book at The Briar Patch

A year ago this week, I wrote a blog post about following your dreams and how much my youngest son, who lives his whole life full of gusto, has taught me about dreaming big and trying to do something about it. In my post, I wrote about my dream to start an independent publishing company based here in Maine with my husband. I wrote that it seemed impossible but that I was inspired by my son to maybe give it a try.

One year later, we are so proud to announce that we are launching our first book, a children’s book of poetry, this Friday, July 7, at 5:30 PM at The Briar Patch in downtown Bangor! I’m excited, terrified, stressed, happy, hopeful—all the things you might expect for this introvert and teacher of 20 years starting a business.

The only thing I can do is have faith in my ability to discern “the good stuff” when it comes to children’s books. I have been teaching Children’s Literature courses for many, many years and with my strategy of reading every day to my two boys, I’m pretty sure I’ve read about 5,000 children’s books. I honestly think this is a good one. We’re “bettin’ the farm” that I’m right.

The book, Why the Moon Tumbled Out of the Sky and Other Poems, is a collection of poems written by my husband and centered around all the seasons of the year. My husband has been writing poems for years and has published poems for adults, but I’ve always thought he should write children’s poems. I think I was right on that as well.

In this collection, he’s written poems about a grumpy gnome, a beetle who likes to polish buttons, a moon who can’t sleep, and a child who definitely has the most creative snowman in the neighborhood. The poems are fun, engaging, sometimes light and whimsical, sometimes powerful and thoughtful, and I think parents and children alike will love them.

image of chicken illustration

This is Poe’s illustration from the book. I think it presents Poe well, and I love that fox in the background.

My favorite poem in the collection is a poem my husband wrote about our black chicken, Poe. She’s an unusual chicken and full of personality, and she’s always trying to fly. Sometimes, it seems like she can. Her poem, “The Black Chicken Named Poe,” is one of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read. I still cry every time I read it, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read it 50 times. It’s full of magic and whimsy and teaches powerful lessons about overcoming sorrow and being different.

The poem begins like this:

She wasn’t quite a raven,

not even as close as a crow,

she was actually just a black chicken,

her people gave her the name Poe.


From the start, she was not like the others,

all Browns and Rhode Island Reds,

nor was she much like the Raven,

who lived in the pines past the fence.

Of course, I can’t give away the sorrow, magic, and hope in the poem, but I want to! I know all my chicken-loving friends and their children are going to fall in love with this poem. I can’t wait for children to read it. We’ve had a few children review the book, and Poe’s poem is a favorite.

A little more of the magic in the book comes from the fact that our son illustrated the book. I know that sounds like parental bias might be affecting my judgment, but my husband had the idea. It just wouldn’t go away. We hired a talented illustrator for our second book to be launched this fall for Halloween, but my husband thought it would be important to children to see these poems through a child’s eyes. So we let our son, who is only 7, and draws constantly, give a few a try. We fell in love with his illustrations. It was an epic undertaking for him, but I think he is proud to have accomplished it.

image of cat illustration

This is my favorite illustration from the book. It’s one where my son just interpreted the poem “My Old Cat” how he wanted. It feels like magic to me. Posters from our son’s art will be decorating The Briar Patch in honor of the book launch and Bangor’s Art Walk.

I hope you’ll be able to join us on Friday at The Briar Patch. The fun begins at 5:30 PM, and we’ll have a poetry reading, an art activity for children in honor of the The Art Walk events, and a book signing.

There will also be cupcakes and a drawing for a t-shirt prize. At the event, I’ll also share information about the support for this book on our site. We have detailed support for parents and teachers hoping to engage their children in poetry.

So, here we are, following this dream that I wrote about a year ago this week. I feel like I’m of an age where I was going to either have to try to follow my dream or let it go. We decided not to let it go, and, if nothing else, we’re teaching our sons to try, try, try. I think that’s all you can ask.

image of author and son

Writing and art are important in our family, though all of us write and create and make as much as we can, these two are the stars of this book. As a creative team, I’m convinced they’re a powerful force.

Please check out our Blue Moose website and join us on Friday at 5:30 at the Briar Patch if you can!

Crystal Sands

About Crystal Sands

I am a former academic and award winning writing teacher turned hobby farmer/homeschooling mom/freelancer. In 2015, after too many years of working too many hours, I decided to change my life. This blog shares my stories related to making the change and simplifying my life–a process that began when we finally got our first chickens. In this blog, I will share my experiences learning how to hobby farm on a small place in Maine, become more self-sufficient, live frugally, live peacefully, and have more time for love. I hope you will join me on this journey by following my blog and following me on Twitter @CrystalDSands.