SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah blogger and a former Disney illustrator collaborated to create a children's book that teaches children morals.
Jill Nystul from Heber City said she has been blogging for about three years. With her nephew as her business partner, she said her blog has become quite successful, reaching around 6 million page views each month.
Nystul said she and her nephew had a meeting one day, and he pitched the idea of having her write a children's book. He suggested that she write the book based on her childhood nickname "Jillee Bean".
Nystul said she was interested in the idea, but that she didn't feel she had the artistic ability to see it through. A few months later, her nephew mentioned the project to one of his coworkers who happened to be married to Samantha Hollister, a third-generation Disney artist.
"We set up a meeting with her and the project took off from there," Nystul said. "It's kind of neat. Once we met her, I felt like it was really meant to be, because it was so random how we met in the first place."
Hollister, who is from Lehi, had worked for Disney for several years as an illustrator on projects like the movie "Brother Bear." Her mother and her grandfather were also Disney illustrators. After she quit working for Disney, Nystul said Hollister hadn't really pursued any other projects until they met.
"She really hadn't pursued doing anything, even though she obviously has a lot of talent because she wanted the right project," Nystul said. "The idea was kind of what she was looking for as well so it was a perfect fit."
The "perfect fit" ended up as children's book — “Jillee Bean and the One Good Thing” — co-written by Nystul and Hollister and illustrated by Hollister. The book tells the story of a young girl who doesn't feel she is talented or good at anything, but her father encourages her to go doing small acts of service for others while he keeps track with a jar of jelly beans.
Nystul said the character in the story was based off of her as a child, and the father in the book was patterned after her own father who is now 87 years old. She said the message of the book is something that has really resonated with people.
"It's really to encourage kids to do good things and also to realize that even though they are little people and what they do are little things, they add up to a lot," she said. "It's hard to teach kids important moral things in a fun way."
The women began writing the book in the fall of 2013, and it was finished by January. They self-published it and have sold over 600 copies online. They held an official launch party on Saturday in Provo where they sold around 250 copies. Nystul said they also had people donate other books at the party, which they doated to the Boys & Girls Club in Salt Lake City.
Nystul said because of the good response to the book, she and Hollister have considered doing a series. People can buy the book at jilleebean.com.