Do you love children’s books with heart that promote being yourself, and supporting great causes? Boomer At Your Service, Vanessa Keel’s debut picture book, is going to be right up your alley.
I love interviewing inspiring women on this site and showcasing how they found their Career Sweet Spot and are making their mark on the world. Learn more about the new children’s book Boomer At Your Service and author Vanessa Keel in this review and Q&A and remember to pick up your copy for your kids!
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Boomer At Your Service is a sweet story about a service dog who longs to find a family to serve. However, on Service Dog Graduation Day everything goes wrong and this kicks off a series of misunderstandings that leave Boomer feeling discouraged that he’ll ever find his forever home.
Boomer is a natural helper though, and after helping a kitten find her owner, he finds his home too! Then he becomes a therapy dog doing what he does best, making children smile.
With its inspiring story about being yourself and using your talents to help others, plus adorable illustrations, this book will be a wonderful addition to your kids’ bookshelf.
Meet Vanessa Keel
Boomer’s creator, Vanessa Keel, spent her career creating award-winning advertising campaigns including working at The Walt Disney Company. Now, she has her own characters and stories she hopes will bring joy to children everywhere.
Vanessa lives in New Jersey with her British husband and boisterous baby boy. She’s currently searching for the right furry friend for her family.
To learn more about Vanessa, visit www.vanessakeel.com.
Q&A with Vanessa
Q: What inspired Boomer At Your Service?
I’ve been a dog-lover my entire life. I remember as a child I would even pretend to be one! I’ve just always felt a unique bond with them.
So, when I sat down to write this book, imagining a story about a dog came naturally. At first, the story was simply about a dog who was looking for a family to accept him for who he is. His original name was Boomerang because he never gave up and persevered through his challenges until he finally found his dream home.
But later, after a few revisions, it morphed into the pages it is today. I decided it would be a great opportunity to highlight the amazing work of service and therapy dogs because they are real-life superheroes to the children they serve. The book is now providing a platform to educate children about all of the many ways service and therapy dogs help kids.
Q: Have you always been drawn to storytelling and writing?
Yes, I have been drawn to storytelling and writing through many different mediums. I love books, movies, and television. I can get really into a series and just immerse myself in the fantasy.
I’ve also always had a vivid imagination. I remember my high-school English teacher being shocked when I told her I wanted to work in advertising. She told me then she always thought I would be an author. I guess she was right!
But, I did have a 15+ year career in advertising and marketing and all of my experiences have led me to write children’s books today. I worked for The Walt Disney Company for many years and I think it was my time there that fostered my love for children’s stories and characters. My ultimate dream is to write a book with characters children all over the world will love and learn from. I think Boomer is off to a good start.
Q: Disney fans must know! Who’s your favorite Disney character?
Favorite Disney character? Oh wow, that’s a hard one to answer. I’m a huge fan of the Winnie Pooh characters from the mind of A.A. Milne. I adore Simba, Mary Poppins, and Pluto was a childhood favorite.
But, I think my all-time favorite Disney character is Cinderella. A classic.
Many people can align a Disney character with a special memory. As a little girl, I remember the day my Dad came home from work with my very first video tape. It was dark outside, the air was cold and my Dad was tired from a long day of work in New York City. But, he didn’t forget my birthday. He walked in the door with a wrapped present. That day my Dad was a prince and I was the princess.
Q: Do you have any more children’s books on the way?
Yes! I am always writing and have quite a few manuscripts in the works.
Breaking into the world of publishing is definitely a difficult challenge. I feel so honored and lucky to have been noticed by my publisher at Spork Children’s Books. When someone recognizes your passion and believes in your story…it is the BEST feeling.
I left my career in advertising to pursue this dream full-time, so I hope to have many children’s books in the future.
Q: What do you want kids (and parents) to take away from Boomer At Your Service?
The main message I want kids and parents to take away from my book is that everyone deserves to be loved and accepted for who they are.
Boomer wants to be a service dog but we soon find out he doesn’t have all the traits required to become one. In reality, only about 50% of service dogs in training make it.
Boomer is misunderstood and doesn’t always get things right. I think many children can relate to this feeling. But, Boomer never gives up. He keeps on going until he eventually finds a home where he can be exactly himself. His goofiness and exuberance shine and he finds his true purpose in life as a therapy dog.
After a reading of my book at a recent book signing, a little girl came up to me and asked if my book meant she should always be herself and not try to be like others. I just smiled and said, “Yes. You got it! Always be you.”
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about Merlin’s KIDS?
When I wrote Boomer At Your Service, I knew I wanted it to serve a special purpose. I started researching non-profits and when I came across Merlin’s KIDSTM I just knew it was the organization I wanted to support.
Merlin’s KIDSTM is dedicated to rescuing shelter dogs to be trained as service dogs for children with special needs and veterans. I just thought, what an incredible cause! They are transforming two lives at a time by giving new life to shelter dogs and the children with whom they are paired.
I soon learned each dog costs on average $25K-$30K to board, feed, train, and more. It’s a tremendous expense for families. I’ve seen the magic first-hand. When a service dog is placed with a child, it not only provides safety benefits, but it transforms their entire spirit. You can watch for yourself in this video.
I knew wanted to do everything I could to help. I started volunteering my time with the organization and I pledged to donate the proceeds from my pre-order book sales to Merlin’s KIDSTM.
All the sweetness right!? Career Sweet Spots, sweet pup, and sweet hearts supporting others. Keep the sweetness rolling and bring Boomer at Your Service into your home!