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Besides writing this weekly column, I write novels and children’s stories. The beginning of one of my children’s stories started back in 2012. One day I was walking looking at the ground. I saw a nightcrawler and an idea for a book suddenly came to me. Our three-year-old grandchildren would be the subjects of this story - in my mind our grand-twins, Arianna and Eli, were already the Up and Down Twins.

The premise of this picture book would be that one twin would always look up and one twin would always look down. It was also my hope that our daughter Rachel, their mother, would do photographs of the children so we could self-publish this book.

I wrote and rewrote the words for the book, and then I approached Rachel about doing the photo illustrations.

All our children are very busy people. Rachel is super busy. She works full-time, she has a photography business besides, and she and her husband Dave take care of their home and their children. I didn’t know where she would squeeze in the time to do this project, but she thought it was a good idea and said she would start to work on it.

Two years later, Rachel finally got around to photographing the twins – for a while I thought the twins would grow too old to be in the picture book before Rachel had time to take the pictures. But now she had photos in her computer and Rachel told me she had an idea in her head how the book would be set up. Still she asked if I had any ideas that I wanted to add to the book. I didn’t. Somehow I knew with her photography and her creativity she would come up with the perfect setup.

Time passed again – months, and then years. I didn’t want to bug our daughter. Her life was already too crazy.

Once in awhile I asked her if she had gone any farther setting up the book, but I didn’t give her a deadline. Now I find out that Rachel needs deadlines. She tells me that’s how she gets all her work done on time. Lucky for me, after some prodding from a friend of hers, Rachel gave herself a deadline to finish the book. She decided she would have it completed before she and Dave went on vacation.

I was all excited about this plan. It seems that finally the book would become real and not just in my head.

By now the twins were seven-year-olds and were voracious readers themselves. They even test read our manuscript to see if it was easy enough for first and second graders to read. We rewrote a few passages to make it an easy reader; all the while Rachel was working on the photo illustrations.

Arianna and Eli helped their mother choose what subjects they would see when they looked up and down in the book. Ideas abounded: a turtle, bug, worm, or frog? Would an airplane be in the sky or a bird? The twins drew self-portraits for the back of the book.

The premise of the book didn’t change even after all these years but there was an addition to the end. Little brother Wyatt was added. This made the ending even more special.

I didn’t know Rachel wanted to finish this book as a Mother’s Day present, but I was honored when she was able to hand me my first copy even before Mother’s Day arrived.

Up and Down Twins is available for purchase from me, Rachel at www.rachelmanzke.com, Sissy’s in Seymour, or Amazon.com. It’s perfect for beginning readers. Rachel and I hope everyone enjoys it.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com

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