Meant to ‘Bee’
As she was growing up, Kelly Sibol dreamed of writing and illustrating greeting cards or being the “person at Crayola who got to name the crayons,” she said.
Today, she is a published author with her first children’s book successfully on the market. Although she may not have gotten exactly what she wished for, Sibol is thrilled that her love of putting pen and paintbrush to paper has been fulfilled.
Sibol was born and raised in York, having moved on after high school to receive a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications from Elon University in North Carolina. Upon graduation, she moved back to York and began a sales career with a local radio station.
She married in 2006, and it was after the birth of her daughter in 2008 that she “began thinking about what it would take to write a children’s book, something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember,” Sibol, now the mother of three young children, said.
“Being home and raising my family has always been my top priority, and I wanted to do something my children would be proud of.”
An early love of reading was something she felt was important to pass along to her children. Buzz and Louise, the stars of her first book, “seemed like a natural extension of the things that are important to me,” she said.
Buzz and Louise is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that focuses on “the magic of bees,” Sibol said. “In addition to loving books and art, I am also a lover of all things outdoors. My other passion is flowers, and learning about bees intrigued me from the start.”
Sibol studied the importance of bees and how they are responsible for so many things we enjoy, such as honey, flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
“I began learning more about the decline in the bee population, and so it felt like a natural subject for me to write about,” Sibol said.
Sibol admits that, at first, there were so many visual ideas for a book on the subject swirling around in her head that the illustrations in some ways came before the story.
The drawings were “sketched many times over and then traced in permanent marker,” she explained. “They were then finished with watercolor, my favorite medium to work with.”
Sibol said that she always “knew the important things I wanted kids to learn, and then I had to figure out how to come up with a clever way to weave the facts into the pictures I had mapped out. Buzz and Louise contains many age-appropriate facts about bees and concludes with a list of ways that children can help to protect pollinators.”
Although she said that the idea of writing a children’s book grew from a “seed my mom planted long ago,” it wasn’t until her children were born that Sibol seriously considered the idea.
“Once I started drawing and tossing the idea around with my husband, there was no turning back,” Sibol laughed. “He was not going to let me not do it!”
Often, when she started thinking that something she was working on wasn’t good enough, her husband and her children were her biggest sources of support.
“They were always there to offer ideas and encouragement,” she said.
Putting herself and her work out there for the world to see is something that Sibol has always been uncomfortable with, and in fact, “it still makes me uncomfortable to talk about Buzz and Louise because it feels so personal.”
If it weren’t for the support of her husband, children, and the rest of her family, she believes that “Buzz and Louise would still be collecting dust on our dining room table.”
So what was it like to see what was once just an idea finally become a reality?
“My kids were actually the first to discover the book delivered to my side door one rainy afternoon,” Sibol said. “Seeing proof for the first time was very surreal. I had worked so hard to put it all together, and it felt great to finally have a hard copy in my hands.”
Sibol has always enjoyed working with children and is relishing the opportunity as a published author to visit local schools and businesses to read and sign her book and to talk with children about bees.
She is also interested in writing another book, “but at this point I’m not sure which direction I want to take Buzz and Louise,” she said. “I know I want to continue with the bee theme, and I have been mulling over different ideas.”
As she continues to explore new opportunities and grow as an author, Sibol is very aware of what she has learned since first embarking on this journey with Buzz and Louise.
“It might sound cliché, but there is so much truth to the saying that there is nothing to fear but fear itself,” she said. “It has been such a valuable lesson for me. As soon as I made the decision to put my self-doubt aside, I opened myself up to new friendships and opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.” BW