NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

April 17, 2014

Shining a light on 'Monsters'

Port author, illustrator scares up children's book

Glubb and Skeebu do all of the things that the average child does: They eat breakfast, go to school, participate in sports, play video games and brush their teeth.

The two main characters in Newburyport resident AJ Smith’s new children’s book prove that “Even Monsters” get scared by things that go bump in the night and need a kiss good night from their parents.

“I was looking for a not-so-subtle metaphor for kids,” Smith said. “The big theme in the book is that we’re all very similar to each other. We’re not all that different really.”

Published on April 1 by Sourcebooks and aimed at children ages 3-6, “Even Monsters” is Smith’s first trade picture book. The author and illustrator has previously written 13 books in the education market, available only at schools and libraries.

“It’s kind of like going from the minor leagues to the big leagues,” said Smith, who wrote “Even Monsters” several years ago but didn’t get a contract until last year. “It’s been a long time in the making.”

Before turning to children’s books, Smith worked as an animator and designer at several studios in New York City, where he studied at the School of Visual Arts. His work has appeared on a number of cartoons and children’s programs, including “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” “Sheep in the Big City” and “WordGirl,” the PBS show co-created by Jack Ferraiolo of Amesbury.

Although he traded in the big city for the North Shore several years ago, he still does freelance animation work, most recently a small piece that will appear on “Sesame Street” later this year.

Smith and his wife, Karen, lived in Ipswich for a couple of years before settling in Newburyport four years ago. They have two daughters, 5-year-old Mirabelle and 2-year-old Chloe.

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