Shirley Brill was having a bad spell with her knees and decided to make a negative a positive.
She used the time she was forced off her feet to write and illustrate a story for her twin granddaughters. That story is now a book that all young children will enjoy — and learn something as well.
Brill has published the story of “The Traveling Tumbleweed” and filled it with wonderful, brightly colored illustrations that offer a geography lesson of sorts.
She will be selling and signing copies of the book this weekend. Look for her at Fireside Espresso from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6 and at the Payson Public Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7.
It took Brill about five months to complete the project. “I did the story first, then worked in the illustrations,” she said.
She tried marketing it to a couple of publishers, and then decided to pay for the printing herself. She used Aachanon Publishing of Star Valley.
“They did a very good job with the color,” she said. “I wanted it to have good color and be fun and educational.”
The main character, as the title indicates, is a tumbleweed named Thomas. “He’s a fun character, soft and cheerful,” Brill said. Thomas is an adventurer and always sports a baseball cap.
“When I drew the cap it was in the Diamondbacks’ colors, but then they changed to the Sedona red (before the book could be printed).”
Her granddaughters live in Washington, so she wanted to teach them about Arizona. She started Thomas’ adventure in the Sonoran desert and then took him on the road. Some of the drawings in the book are based upon photographs she has taken of the geographic highlights encountered in her own travels.
“I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been received very well,” Brill said.
She doesn’t plan a sequel. Fewer than 100 were printed, so she is planning a second printing.
She took the book to Payson Elementary School last week and read it to the school’s kindergarten, pre-first and first-grade students.
Brill’s first love is art. She has enjoyed it since her earliest days in school.
For the book she made pencil sketches and then colored them in with colored pencils.
Her first venture into publishing was a poem, which was included in an anthology. Now she wants to try new things.
Brill and her husband came to the Payson area from Washington State 16 years ago. In addition to her art, she enjoys reading mystery novels and listening to a variety of music, including jazz, so she also likes attending the monthly jazz concerts presented by the Payson Friends of Jazz.