Moving can be a stressful experience, especially for young children who often find themselves as silent observers to their future destination. Karena Piedmont, who runs the Norwalk-headquartered Real Estate University, wondered about how to get young children more aware about the process that goes into moving from one home to another.
“I was thinking about what would make them excited instead of scared,” she said. “Instead of just having them looking out of windows when their parents are driving around, they could be looking at the process in different ways.”
Piedmont is no stranger to education — her Real Estate University offers courses on pre-licensing and continuing education for brokers, as well as investor education. But when she realized there was no real education tool for youngsters, she took it upon herself to fill that void.
Earlier this month, Archway Publishing, a division of Simon and Schuster, released Piedmont’s children’s book, “A Roost for a Rooster, A Home for a Hare,” which placed the house-hunting odyssey into a format that would be friendly and accessible for readers between 3 and 7 years old.
The book features an all-animal character lineup. The story opens at the Cloverly Real Estate office, where brokers Tillie (a flamingo) and Fig (a fox) learn that the local zoo is closing. Because of this development, the residents of the zoo need to find new homes — and Piedmont noted that not unlike their human counterparts, Tillie and Fig and their clients realize that “things may not always work out.”
In the course of the book, Miss Giraffe visits a number of residences before finding the appropriately high-ceiling domicile that can accommodate her long legs and longer neck. Mr. and Mrs. Hare inspect a wide swath of properties before finding one that can accommodate the clan’s large number of children. Mr. Bear needs a space to accommodate his ursine dimensions, not to mention a quiet location where his wintertime hibernation is not disturbed. But the real challenge for Tillie and Fig involves Miss Elephant, who is the most apprehensive of all when it comes to finding a new home — but a surprise ending (no spoilers here, sorry) wraps up the tale while leaving a bit of wiggle room for a possible sequel.
Piedmont had no previous fiction writing experience. “I had no skills except being a mom and reading my children books,” she laughed, but she acknowledged that her book needed appropriately whimsical illustrations to relate her story. Piedmont advertised for an illustrator and found two candidates to her liking, one in Darien and one in Georgia. She chose the latter candidate, Maia Batumashvili, only to discover an interesting dilemma.
“I thought she was in Georgia, the state,” Piedmont recalled. “Then I found out it was Georgia, the country, next to Russia. Whoopsie.”
Despite the time zone differences and Piedmont’s specific vision for American-style illustrations, Piedmont collaborated with Batumashvili in getting a visual style to appeal to the targeted audience. Piedmont’s original draft contained a longer story with efforts to find Mr. Lion a suitable mansion for his King of the Beasts status and to placate Mr. Honey Badger’s irascible personality. However, her Archway Publishing editor recommended trimming the story down.
Piedmont plans to market the book as an incentive gift that can be used by real estate professionals whose clients have young children. She is also eyeing her Real Estate University classes as a potential buyer base.
“I have a captive audience — my students are getting into the real estate business,” she laughed.