Isabella Propeller

John Aldridge, aka Jonathan Graves, displays both of his ‘Isabella Propeller’ books on June 5.

BLOWING ROCK – Author Jonathan Graves, the pseudonym for John Aldridge, didn’t plan to write a sequel to his 2011 children’s book “Isabella Propeller and the Magic Beanie,” but his grandchildren were quite persuasive.

Thus, in June, Aldridge’s second book “Isabella Propeller and the Bully Woolie,” was released.

“I had three grandchildren when I wrote the first book,” Aldirdge said. “And then, I got three more grandchildren. As soon as they were old enough … they said ‘Pop, why aren’t we in it?’”

The new book deals with a subject that many kids can relate to in bullying.

Aldridge pointed to an author’s note at the end of the book that shows that children’s literature is a good way to open dialogue with children around the topic of bullying and that it’s the purpose of the book.

Aldridge said when he would tell two stories to school children, the kids almost unanimously liked the bullying story the most.

The first book, released in 2011, follows young Isabella, based on Aldridge’s granddaughter of the same name, and her discovery of a magical beanie. The story is set in Blowing Rock and invokes the legend of The Blowing Rock.

For the second book, Aldridge again partnered with Gail Haley, a Charlotte-based illustrator who has won the Caldecott Medal. Haley previously lived outside Blowing Rock

“Every single picture is an original piece of art,” Aldridge said. “It’s a very tedious process.”

All of the paintings had to be reduced to digital versions, a process which was done by Boone local Aaron Burleson.

“To have two people that talented close to Blowing Rock is such a help,” Aldridge said.

Aldridge explained that writing and illustrating a 36-page children’s book is harder than it seems, noting it took a year to complete, but in the end, it’s worth it to see the final result.

“Blowing Rock is an easy place to write about,” Aldridge explained.

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