A glimpse into the making of ‘A is for Abinadi’
by Heidi Poelman
I have always loved reading alphabet books with my children. I’ve also always loved learning stories of inspiring people from the past. In “A is for Abinadi,” I wanted to combine these two loves. I wanted to create something that had the fun alphabetical pattern that small children can enjoy, but more importantly, I wanted to let children get to know some of the truly amazing men and women in the scriptures. I wanted my children, especially, to know about some of my favorite heroes–people who exemplify greater faith, courage, loyalty, friendship, and integrity than any of our typical modern-day superheroes.
Many of the letters were easy to match with an inspiring hero, such as A for Abinadi, C for Captain Moroni, D for Daniel, P for Peter, and S for Samuel the Lamanite. Some letters had multiple people I could have chosen. I had to decide, should N be for Nephi or Noah? Should H be for Hannah or Helaman?
My goal, in addition to capturing some of my favorite scripture stories, was to include as many women as possible, because women don’t often get the spotlight in the scriptures. So Eve, Hannah, Mary, Rebecca and Queen Esther became part of the story. My daughters appreciate that.
Then there were the more difficult letters that really had no clearly heroic person to represent them. I had to either reach for lesser known heroes, focus on some characteristic that could be considered heroic, or simply be creative. For example, most people wouldn’t say Uriah the Hittite was their hero. However, his demonstrated loyalty to his king was heroic. For V, I decided to go with “visiting angel” so we could get Moroni in the story (and it was a good alternate to the complicated Vashti, who could be considered heroic in some ways, but also rebellious and disloyal in others). For X, I decided on using the word “exodus” because then I could capture the story of Moses and the Israelites who followed him. Luckily, although Helaman didn’t come under the letter H, I was able to tell his story under Y with the “young warriors” who followed him.
Once I finished the manuscript and it was accepted it for publication, the next step was to find an illustrator. Cedar Fort selected Jason Pruett for the job. At first his style was not at all what I had pictured for the book. I had hoped for something more serene, like a Greg Olsen approach. But once I saw what Jason was doing with the story–making it fun for children–I knew he was going to turn this book into something better than I had imagined. I loved how he molded the book into something children would actually pull out to enjoy, rather than just a book a parent would go to for a scripture lesson. The hidden objects on every page have been so fun for both me and my children to find. We are regularly finding new things we missed before.
I love the final product. Now the inspiring stories of heroes combined with the fun approach from Jason make this book something my children want to go back to again and again. As an author, that’s all I could hope for.
Ed. note: “A is for Abinadi” is available in bookstores and from online retailers.
Heidi Poelman has always loved learning about inspiring people. In “A is for Abinadi” she found a way to write about many of her favorites. When she’s not writing, cooking, cleaning, or carpooling, Heidi enjoys reading bedtime stories and going on outdoor adventures with her family. Heidi lives in Utah with her husband and three children.
Jason Pruett has a BFA in Industrial Design from Brigham Young University and an MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University. He has created art for games and animation. Jason currently illustrates picture books and the children’s comic book “Jimmy Brass, 2nd Grade Detective.” He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife.