Local Husband And Wife Team Delight With Their Snowmen Series
You write the books and your husband illustrates– how did that come to be? Was there always a dream of collaborating?
Mark and I met as college students. I was amazed at his talent and felt that his choice to pursue art was natural, but neither one of us envisioned doing what we are doing. We moved to New York City after Mark’s graduation, hoping that he could find general illustration work. We quickly found that he was one of thousands of artists all wanting editorial or advertising jobs, and the few jobs that he secured provided only minimal income. At the time it was difficult, but we look back on that period now with a more grateful perspective, because not having other work meant that when the opportunity came up to do a picture book, Mark was more than willing to give it a try, and ended up finding the perfect place to use his talents and ideas.
It wasn’t a conscious decision for me to write, and is still a peripheral part of my life. I’m more of a reader, and am perfectly happy to relax with a stack of other people’s books… It was Mark who pulled me into the business with him–bless him! He was already publishing, and urged me to write a story and collaborate with him.
When did you move to Draper? What brought you here? Are you originally from the area?
Mark and I both grew up in Salt Lake City in the Sugarhouse area. We love the Salt Lake valley, and while living away definitely felt the call of both family and mountains. We both grew up in older homes, and lived in lovely older homes in Sugarhouse when we moved back to Utah. Over the years our family outgrew those homes, and we found our home in Draper when looking for more space to accommodate our family. It fits our natures because it’s a lovely historic home (the oldest yet–the Isaac Stewart pioneer home built in 1857) but one which finally has the space we need. We live near Draper Historic Park; our children stop at the Sorenson home to buy penny candy on the way home from school; they walk home past horses and cows, and it feels like we stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. We have especially loved how long-time residents of Draper–many with roots extending back to original settlers–have been so welcoming. Mark and I are the parents of nine children, seven of whom still live in the home. We love having a big family, and it has certainly helped us to keep up with the children’s picture book market.
What inspired your Snowmen books?
That’s actually a great story! If you look inside the back cover of a hardback edition of Snowmen at Night, you will see a small photograph of a snowman. This is a snowman that Mark and the kids built one night in the front yard of the house we were living in at the time, which was in Sugarhouse. It was evening, and after building the snowman, we all trooped inside and went to bed. The next morning Mark went out to get the newspaper off of the porch–and there was the snowman. It had moved all the way across the front yard, was turned around facing the front door, and was holding a can of soup. It was delightful and hilarious, and I’m glad that Mark thought to snap a picture, because as I retold the story of this prank to people it sparked the idea for the poem that became Snowmen at Night, which has been our best-selling book. The success of the book and the enjoyment Mark had in painting it has naturally led to sequels. Mark is currently working on a fifth book in the series, due out in 2017.
Tell me about the hidden pictures in the Snowmen books! How did those come about? Are there hidden pictures in all your books?
All of Mark’s books have always had hidden pictures. It began back in 1990 with the creation of The Adventures of Taxi Dog, in which he painted a cat in every scene. The next two books had hidden cats, and so on. Some books have eight or nine different things to find on each page, but most of the books have a cat, rabbit and T-Rex. Some of the Snowmen books also have a Santa face or extra snowmen.
The hidden pictures are an extra surprise that can take the reader back again and again. Sometimes they are so hard to find that people have to ask Mark for help. The most recent books have an answer key printed inside the dust jacket.
What’s next for the Buehners?
We have a new book out this year, which is exciting for us, titled Merry Christmas, Mr. Mouse. It’s a Christmas story about how a family of house mice discover the meaning and joy of Christmas as they puzzle over and finally imitate all of the joyous fun happening in the house upstairs. It has Mark’s signature rich, warm paintings that perfectly capture the magic of Christmas.
For more from the Beuhners, visit BuehnerBooks.com