Jennifer Antonik believes that reading is extremely important to children and, since she loved telling stories of her own, it was only natural that she would write a children’s book.
She found that her writing talent, her love of reading and her ability to tell a story combined nicely in writing books aimed toward children.
“There’s something special about watching a child’s eyes light up when you lead them on a new adventure or tell them something they didn’t know,” Antonik said. “It’s that joy of life that inspired me to start writing children’s books, especially with my Granddaddy’s story in mind.”
Antonik’s first book, “The Music Man: Our Rootin’, Tootin’ Hero,” was recently published and released on Christmas Day.
The book is a juvenile non-fiction biography of the one and only Granddaddy Norman Joseph “Joe” Lear, Sr. Antonik explained that the book offers an inspirational glimpse into his story and how the Milford Community Band came to be 30 years ago.
Antonik not only wrote the book, but also did her own illustrations using family photos as well as attributed clipart that helps children understand the instruments better.
Her sister, Jessica Rash, who is an English/Language Arts teacher at Milford Central Academy, edited the book.
“The book allows youth to “experience” a few instruments they may not encounter until they are older,” Antonik said. “It took a lifetime to live and about a month to write and design. During lunchtime one day, I asked my kids if I could read them a story and see how it sounds.
“In a writer’s house, that’s not unusual for them to hear. About halfway into ‘The Musican Man,’ our youngest blurted out with a shocked face, “is that about OUR granddaddy? Mommy, you have to tell my teacher.””
Antonik said that her youngest was the first to run off and read a copy when the first of them arrived. All three of the children have been excited to share the news about the new venture of children’s books.
“ ‘The Music Man: Our Rootin’, Tootin’ Hero’ is about our Great-Granddaddy loving music,” Delaney, Antonik’s daughter, said.
In addition to “The Music Man,” Antonik has completed a second book, “Boops and Goobs Find a Home,” the hilarious debut of two lovable orange tabby cats who find a forever home together.
The cats are based on real-life characters Antonik and her family watch romping around their home every day.
“The most challenging part of writing ‘The Music Man’ was how emotional it was for me,” Antonik said. “It was gut-wrenching, but also comforting to know we can tell his story in a way that will inspire children all over. It was also challenging to wait for its release!
‘I wanted to be sure our family had a chance to read through ‘The Music Man’ before it was released. I think the most rewarding is knowing that I can spread Granddad’s love of music and make him proud by becoming the author he always knew I could become.”
Antonik was born and raised in Milford but moved to Harrington when she was older. She graduated from Milford High School in 2002 and from Delaware Tech in 2014 with an associate degree in communications technology.
She also earned a certificate in sign language technology from Delaware Tech. She currently works in public relations at the Delaware Farm Bureau.
Antonik’s grandfather always made sure to give back to his community or tithe, which has led the author to donate a portion of the proceeds of ‘The Music Man’ over the next two months to the Milford Community Band in her grandfather’s memory.
“The band has not been able to play any gigs this year because of the pandemic,” Antonik wrote on her Facebook page. “Gigs, of course, help keep the lights on at Lear Hall, music ordered and other needs.
“And, to make matters worse, gigs mean visibility in the community which helps the group obtain additional donations. I know Granddaddy would be happy to know that we are helping keep the music alive.”