Snuggle up to your kids under the moon this summer with a new children’s book from two local creatives.
Written by Tommy Jones and illustrated by Wendy Barnett, “A Young Lightning Bug Fell in Love with the Moon” depicts the relationship between nature and the critters that inhabit it.
The story opens on a lone black lightning bug, freckled with blue light and an orangey under glow, perched upon a rock, gazing up at the night sky. The text reads, “A young lighting bug fell in love with the moon,” and then follows the little bug on its journey of admiration and determination to meet the moon.
The message of the story lightheartedly teaches kids about the beauty of the natural life cycle and the valuable life lesson of being comfortable with good things ending.
“It’s okay to dream but it’s also important to enjoy, to live what you can live,” said Jones.
The firefly’s relationship with the moonlight represents this idea in an easily understood format for children.
From the accurate visual detail of the lightning bug to the enchanting nature landscapes, children are sure to be mesmerized by the message and up-close depictions of the intriguing critter. The story, while being a children’s book, maintains a feeling of nostalgia for older readers, harking back to the fascination of the first interactions one has with fireflies during their childhood summers.
June is dedicated as Lightning Bug Month since it’s when we tend to see more of them flying about. Throughout their mating season, which spans into July, onlookers of all ages are able to see the tiny flashing bellies of generations of fireflies at one time.
He described the book as the tale of “a young firefly who finds fulfillment while pursuing an impossible dream,” and mentioned how it’s a dream for him to finally have a physical form of the poem he’s had for a while.
Jones wrote the poem some time ago while sitting on his back porch watching fireflies.
“It’s practically true, there were fireflies and the moon, and I just watched them fly towards it time after time,” Jones recalled.
The author said he had a desire to turn it into a children’s book for a while, but said he lacked the ability to illustrate the story. That is, until he came along an old theatre friend of his.
Wendy Barnett stumbled into the picture and helped Jones create illustrations for the book. After Barnett became involved, they were able to get the book out in just three weeks.
“I saw she was publishing on Kindle Direct and I sent her the poem. She was kind enough to get it illustrated in a form that can be uploaded [since] she had done it before with her own beautiful coloring books,” explained Jones.
Barnett used Midjourney, an artificial intelligence technology, to generate the illustrations for the book. It’s more complex than people think, Barnett explained, because you really have to learn how to communicate with the AI so it understands what you want.
“It was really interesting cause the first thing I had put in was ‘lightning bug.’ and it gave me back a bug with lightning bolts around it like this was the insect of Thor,” Barnett explained with a laugh.
“So I was like, okay… how do I word this to make it look like what I want it to look like,” she said.
After many hours of learning how to get the AI program on her wavelength, and looking up countless words in the thesaurus, Barnett finally saw results like what she had pictured in her mind.
“It was a really fun process. It made me have to sit down and really think and analyze so it would understand me… and I liked how it turned out,” she said.
Jones and Barnett are teaming up again for a new children’s book they have in the works titled “Earl Merle the Rural Squirrel.”
The book is available for purchase through Amazon.
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