Not every idea that springs from a child’s imagination finds its way to reality. Helicopter skateboards and pet dinosaurs – the technology just isn’t there yet. But a story that debut author Jesse Klausmeier wrote when she was five, growing up in Madison, Wis., helped form the basis for her new picture book Open This Little Book. Readers are invited to open a series of colorful and progressively smaller “books,” which are nested inside each other like Russian matryoshka dolls, joining a growing cast of animals to discover what’s inside each one.
Like many children, Klausmeier was always trying to squeeze in one more book before bedtime. “I thought I was being very clever by taking a big book and stuffing smaller books into it,” she recalls. “My parents were both teachers, and they were very patient with letting me get away with that night after night.” With help from her grandmother, she devised a “cheat” bedtime book, which contained stories inside stories. Klausmeier says she gave up on the book after a few pages and forgot about it soon after, but the books-within-books idea stayed with her over the years, if subconsciously.
When Klausmeier got finished copies of her first published book one of the first things she did was to send one to her grandparents. “I’m really excited that my grandparents are still around to be able to see the book,” she says. “I wish I could go back in time and show five-year-old me, ‘Hey, this is real.’ ” While time travel is another one of those childhood fantasies that’s not yet reality, this author is ready to do the next best thing: share the book with today’s children and spread the message that the things they do and create at that age are important.