My name is Austin Church, and among other things, I’m a writer and entrepreneur. Over the last several years, I have been working on a children’s book called Grabbling. The story is one that my grandmother told my two sisters and me when we were young.
something that happened to her when she was a little girl, growing up on a farm in Fayetteville, Tennessee.
I always loved this story because it has all the things children love: animals and adventure and family and a fun (and unnerving) surprise at the end.
What inspired me to pick up this project again was two children, my daughter Salem and my son Theo. These two crazy, lovely little people are growing too quickly. I want to finish Grabbling while my kids are young enough to enjoy it.
Martha Jean, turned 82 this year. She is getting older, and though she could live another twenty years, I still want to make the most of our time together on this earth.
Grandmother loves my children so well—the same way she loved me.
In my mind I see a sweet picture of Grandmother with Salem and Theo in her lap. She is reading her story out of my book and pausing on each page to let them enjoy the illustrations.
I’d love for your children, your nieces and nephews, all of the rambunctious munchkins in your life, to go on a small adventure with Jeannie and to get the shiver at the end of the story that I always felt.
The story spans 32 pages of lush, colorful illustrations that send you into the world of Jeannie, her dad Julian, and another character who doesn’t show up until the very end.
full of laughter, curiosity, and enthusiasm. Her mama sends her and her daddy down to Mulberry Creek to catch dinner. But farm folks in rural Tennessee didn’t always use fishing rods. Sometimes they used their hands. They called it “grabbling.”
Can you imagine slipping into the water without splashing or stirring up the mud? You might hold your breath as you snuck over to the special spot where a big rock met the creekbed and formed a nook where fish could hide.
You lean over, put your hands into the water, and grab fistfuls of mud. You swirl your hands so that the water runs through your fingers and the mud melts away. With the water murky, the fish can’t see as well.
Martha Jean knew that, and like a curly-headed raccoon, she would slip her hands up underneath the rock and feel along that nook and very gently close her fingers around whatever was inside.
At just over 1000 words and 20 full-color illustrations, Grabbling would make the perfect addition to your children's book collection. I look forward to sharing it with you and your children.
The story itself is 99% final—but will it ever really be finished?—and I’m currently working with Nik to finish the illustrations. I hope to go to print in June and mail the books to everyone in early July. I still can’t believe this is really happening!
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