*Also available in hardcover for $15.95
When she was a kid, Cherry Smith heard grownups talk about being too busy and having “so many things to juggle” in their lives.
“I heard that, and it stuck,” said Smith, who has published her first children’s book, “Juniper Jupiter: World’s Greatest Juggler” (Courier Publishing, $9.95 softcover, $15.95 hardcover).
Early in Smith’s life, a vision emerged in her mind for the character of Juniper Jupiter, and Smith “just started thinking about Juniper juggling more and more stuff.”
The moral of the story (and Smith said she definitely wanted the story to have a moral, “something that someone at every age could relate to”) is that “you need to take one thing at a time. If you have too much then you’re not really doing anything well, and it could all fall.”
A preschool teacher in Greenwood, Smith says she always dreamed of writing and illustrating a children’s book, but it wasn’t until after her mom, Judy, died in 2014 that she really felt an urgency to see her vision become a reality. “You realize life is short,” she said, “and you want to savor it and see your dreams come true. It was always there, but I realized even more so that I wanted to put the story out there for everyone to see.”
Smith credits the love and support of her family — her dad, Scott, is Baptist Collegiate Ministries director at Lander University — for encouraging her to publish “Juniper.”
Smith, who earned a visual arts degree at Lander University, said her brain “rarely shuts down with stories and ideas.” She’s developing a couple of other book projects. One is about a pair of siblings, one of whom swallows a seed and worries that a watermelon is growing in his tummy. Another idea, which has been in Smith’s head “for as long as I can remember,” is about a curious character known to local townspeople as Sleepwalk Jones. It’s a story about “taking a long walk to get home to the place where people love you and care about you,” she said.
Besides teaching, traveling (“that’s when my creative juices flow”) and writing stories, Smith has also been busy as a mural painter. Some of her work can be seen around Greenwood at schools, a dentist’s office, and at Connie Maxwell Children’s Home.
Smith said she is happy to speak to small groups about “Juniper Jupiter” or some of her other story ideas. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.