When Whartonian, Shirlene Lowdermilk, suggested to Wharton author, Liz Moreno, that she write a story about the bear hunt that was going on in the Wharton area, neither of them had any idea that such a book would take off like a shot in the night. But take off it did, and from start to finish, the book basically took a little less than a month to get written, illustrated, formatted for the printing company, and printed for distribution.
The concept was birthed out of a book that was actually named “Going on a Bear Hunt,” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, which elementary teachers have used with their classes for years. The first bear hunt in this area took place in March in East Bernard before COVID-19 became pandemic. Area citizens would put stuffed bears in their windows or in their yards for children to “find” when parents took them on their own bear hunts. Once other places found out about the fun East Bernard students were having, the idea spread like a wildfire.
Gay Joines, an artist and art teacher from Boling, agreed to help in the project because she knew the coloring book would be given out for free. She said, “The public response to our request to help with funding has been immense. From those donations, we will be able to order three times what we had originally planned on. That’s when I knew God blessed us with this project.” At first, she was intimidated because of her busy schedule and she knew she only had a couple of days to create all the drawings. But Joines said, “I said a little prayer and felt like God gave me the green light. You know doors sometimes open when you least expect them to and you just have to have faith that if you walk through that door things are going to happen.”
Moreno, who has written several books before, said, “I have NEVER had a project come together this quickly! I started writing on Monday, Gay Joines started artwork on Wednesday, donations started coming in on Friday, and now we had more than enough to place our order for a great supply of books!” Like Joines, she believes this is a God-thing. During the night Monday as she slept, Moreno got the distinct impression that God was giving her an open door. Their results prove that!
Joines said, “Things just seemed to fall into place.” She could see God’s hands moving obstacles so they had a clear path, with few hiccups. She said, “I’m so grateful to have played a small part in the creation of this book and to everyone who helped me figure thing things out when I had a mental block.” Joines and Moreno both are grateful to those who generously donated to get it published. Because of the generosity of people in the community, the duo was able to order 3,000 copies of the book in the first printing. It’s too early to say if or when there will be a second printing, but the possibility exists. They will just ‘bear’ with the accolades they receive in the meantime.
As of June 22, 2020, they have ordered 8,000 copies and have distributed over 5,000 so far.