Cranston resident Julie Garnett has been an author of children's books for over 20 years, as well as a singer and songwriter.
Now, she has combined both her literary and musical pursuits to create her new book, "Animal Songs."
The focus of "Animal Songs" involves musical notes Do and Re joining together to sing about different animals and the sounds they make. Some of the animals included are cows, frogs and pigs.
Garnett said she was inspired to create the book about a year ago after she realized that "it would be such a nice experience for young children to be able to see a song come to life, in a book."
"They can read [and] sing along by themselves, or with a parent," Garnett said.
She added that while she wrote "Animal Songs" a few years back and has performed it during concerts, it fit the style of book she wanted to make "perfectly." She said that she wrote a sample book and then felt that it could be something special.
Garnett said that her book is the "first of its kind." She said that while there are already books with sound available for sale, hers is the first with an original song and live recording artist included in the book. She is the singer of the songs in the book, and has a button that has her introducing the story at the beginning as well. She added that she also provided the instrumentation.
"I wrote the song in a swing/jazz style," she said. "It's so much fun to watch the kids and adults start to dance with the push of the first button."
According to Garnett, many publishers she spoke with regarding the idea did not know how to create such a book. However, she met Deidre Randall from Peter E. Randall Publishing, and she was able to work with her in order "to make [the book] 'sing.'"
"It took us a year, but I feel it was well worth it," she said.
The children's book incorporates aspects of STEAM - or science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics - education into its pages. According to the author, math and the arts are included because it involves counting the animals and music to go along with it. She added that it helps improve a child's motor skills because they must push the button that corresponds with each animal. She said that it "engages children on many levels" and is popular among infants to first grade students.
In terms of art, the book was illustrated by Annabella Grace Cook. Garnett created the Note Family - characters in the book, starting with Do and Re. She mentioned that future books will include the other notes, such as Mi, Fa, So, La and Ti.
"I wanted to include musical characters to host the book, to tie the music and words together," she said.
Garnett said "Animal Songs" was recently recognized nationally, winning a gold medal in the 2019 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. She said she is releasing the book state by state and that the book is not a traditional children's book.
"I'm very proud that it has been nationally recognized in this way," she said.
What type of impact does she think the book will have on the community? Garnett said she hopes that people are proud of it being produced by a Rhode Islander and drawn to its "unique" approach. She added that she posts videos on her YouTube channel (Julie Garnett) and special guests review the book.
Garnett said the book is available in independent bookstores in Rhode Island, and she plans to have events called "Book Sing'n Signings" throughout the state in coming months. Her book is also available for purchase online at juliegarnett.com, which includes information on her upcoming appearances.