A new children’s book by Pittsfield author Russ Cox tackles the difficult topic of what happens when friends move away in his new book, “Faraway Friends,” which was published by Sky Pony Press in early May.
The story follows a little boy whose friend moves away. When the boy sees the moving van with the name “Jupiter” on the side take his friend’s stuff away, he decides — together with his dog — to create a rocket ship to visit. They set about to build one, and then go on a pretend adventure but run into trouble. Fortunately, a friendly alien — aka a new neighbor boy — saves the day.
Cox, who worked on the story for four years, both wrote and illustrated the book — a first for the author who also illustrated “Merry Moosey Christmas” and other books.
“It started with a little sketch I did, and I showed it to a friend of mine who is an author [who suggested that I write a story],” said Cox.
Cox said his wife’s brutal honesty — she didn’t like the story at first — helped him create something better.
“She loves it now. She’s pretty honest, which was great,” said Cox.
But the road to there was paved with some tough love.
“When I did my second draft, she said ‘that’s even worse’ [than the first draft],” he said.
As an illustrator — and a visual person — Cox said that the process of writing was challenging.
“I’m still intimidated by the words, [but] I am getting more comfortable with it,” Cox said.
Cox also is getting more comfortable with seeing the work that he created in bookstores.
“It’s really surreal. It’s kind of crazy to walk into the store and have this thing you created from start to finish staring at you. You almost have to pinch yourself,” said Cox.
“Faraway Friends” is available where books are sold including at The Briar Patch on Central Street in Bangor, Books-A-Million near the Bangor Mall, Barnes & Noble in Augusta and in Waterville at the Children’s Book Cellar on Main Street.
Cox also will be joining the third annual Children’s Book Drive to Benefit Literacy Volunteers in Bangor on Tuesday, June 23. He’ll be at The Briar Patch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., reading and signing his book as well as giving a drawing demo.