Tim Read has monsters on his mind ... very silly monsters.
The 1983 Geneseo graduate has published two children's books, "My Very Silly Monster 123s" and "My Very Silly Monster ABCs."
A free-lance illustrator, Read owns 5 Fingers Creative in Ames, Iowa.
"A couple of years ago, I did a '25 Days of Holiday Monsters' promotion. I would come to work, create a monster and put it on my site as a promotion. I'd created all these monsters, and they just sat on my computer for a few years," he said.
As a volunteer at his childrens' school, Read said he stumbled across the idea of creating a children's ABC book using monsters.
"I did it just to see what it would look like, and I realized it could be a really cool book," he said. "I was able to develop the monsters so each had their own personality. I also gave the monsters very common names so they'd be easy for children to pronounce and befriend."
To appeal to children, Read wanted his monsters to be "visually friendly."
"That's where the term 'silly' comes from in 'My Very Silly Monster,'" he explained. "I wanted something fun and goofy."
As an illustrator, Read said he wanted each page of his books to be "detailed and colorful."
"Each monster is its own character. Children can sit and look at the pages for a long time," he explained.
Read opted to self-publish his book through Amazon's CreateSpace publishing.
"Breaking into children's publishing is very difficult," he said. "You could spend years and years and never get published, or you could self-publish and get your creativity and work out there."
Before publishing, Read said he networked with other children's authors and illustrators and researched publishing options.
"I wanted to make sure the book I was putting together was viable to an audience and not just a pet project of mine," he said.
When the proof copy of his first book, "My Very Silly Monster ABCs" arrived, Read said his children immediately wanted to see the finished product.
"The kids wanted to read it right away. They now have it in their room," he said.
Later, once the finished book rolled off the press, Read's children were again eager to see the book.
"The book has a space for children to draw their own monster. My daughter, Lucy, filled that page right away."
Creating his first book inspired Read to add a second "My Very Silly Monster" book to his resume.
"The new book, 'My Very Silly Monster 123s,' teaches children how to count up to 20, which is unusual since most counting books only go to 10," he said. "There are 20 brand new monsters in the book."
Page 2 of 2 - Read has plans to publish a coloring and activity book as well as a poster book in the future.
He also envisions additional "My Very Silly Monster" books.
"It will be an ongoing thing. I can see doing books for shapes and colors,"
Read has had a life-long love of art and he credit's his teachers in the Geneseo School District for helping inspire him.
"They spent time with me and helped foster my creativity," he said. "The town itself is very supportive of the arts and open to creativity. Sports are always prominent, but that's never pushed aside the arts."
Since introducing his "My Very Silly Monster" books, Read has received monster drawings from a number of his young fans.
"I'm really moved by their openness and creativity. Too often, with iPads and technology, students are over stimulated and very few actually use their own creativity. Seeing children actually taking crayons to paper makes it all worthwhile," he noted.
As part of the Geneseo Public Library's "Have Book - Will Travel" summer reading program, Read will present a program at the Geneseo Public Library at 10 a.m. on July 17. Local children and their parents are invited to attend.
Copies of his books will be available. The books also are available at Read's Web site, www.myverysillymonster.com.
Read and his wife, chiropractor Dr. Barbara Read, have four children: Alex, 9; Lucy, 6; Benny, 4; and Edison, 2.