Most mornings, Kristi Grimm and her 9-year-old son, Dillon, go running together.
It’s not your traditional run, since Grimm, a paraplegic from a horseback riding accident when she was 15, wheels along next to Dillon. It started as a way for Dillon, who has what his mother describes as severe ADHD, to burn some energy before starting his homeschooling lessons.
As walks around the blocks turned into mile-long runs, their time started to get boring, Grimm said.
“Mommy, tell me a story about a car,” Dillon would say as they got started each morning. Sometimes it was a train or a horse.
As they wound their way through their Gilbert neighborhood, Grimm would make up stories to occupy their time and their minds. Dillon would interject with suggestions, plot twists, questions and additions.
And with his simple request, Dillon’s stories have now become the inspiration for a children’s book series by his parents: “Mommy, Tell Me a Story About ...” With Kristi writing in rhyme and husband Dave Grimm illustrating, the two have self-published two books this year.
“Dillon’s probably one of lots and lots of children who asks for these types of stories,” Grimm said.
What started out as simple stories, ended up lasting weeks as characters and plots became more complex.
“Usually, they’re about cars,” Dillon said. “Then probably dogs. Our longest story was about a dog and a cat.”
“It was a V-8 moment,” Grimm said, as she bopped her head. “I’ve always enjoyed writing and Dave is a great artist.”
Dave Grimm, who works for the City of Mesa, had always had a life-long interest in drawing. When the city put out a small coloring booklet for grade school children about recycling a few years ago, Grimm did the artwork.
As a way to encourage Dave’s artistry, as well as a way for the family to supplement their income, the husband-and-wife team began writing and illustrating their own children’s books.
Currently, the duo have self-published two books — “Mommy, Tell Me a Story about a Car,” which came out in January, and “Mommy, Tell Me a Story about a Plane,” their newest book, which was published last month. They have another four books in the queue.
The stories, all in rhyme, can teach kids both how to tell a story as well as learn a moral lesson, Kristi Grimm said.
“I love being able to give kids the knowledge that anyone can tell a story,” she said. “You take your imagination with you always. You don’t need a Game Boy or an iPad to have fun.”
In “Mommy, Tell Me a Story about a Plane,” children can learn about how to deal with aging in a way that would make sense to them, she said. Instead of explaining to kids why their grandparents can’t play with them like their friends can, it teaches them that even aging has its advantages.
“It’s all about perspective,” said Kristi Grimm, who has her masters in education. “I want to develop discussion about topics and ideas that aren’t always talked about — in ways that kids can understand. Old fairy tales were told with a purpose — to teach them something. The lesson doesn’t have to be huge, but don’t waste the moment.”
To accompany Kristi’s rhymes, Dave creates whimsical illustrations, drawing by hand using colored pencils.
“Someone called them ‘old school’ pictures because he does them all by hand,” she said. “A lot of illustrations are done on the computer now, but Dave doesn’t use a computer for his drawings.”
Currently, Dave Grimm is just trying to catch up to his wife’s creative explosion. While balancing his roles as husband, father and full-time employee, he still finds time to draw, his wife said.
“Every story I wrote, I wrote in one day,” she said. And she has another four books waiting for her husband to illustrate. “I just would be so focused on a story, I wouldn’t want to let it go.”
The two decided to self-publish their work so they could work together, rather than trying to find a publisher for Kristi who might have been picked up without Dave.
“My husband is my best friend,” she said. “I love working with him.”
The Grimms hope that eventually they will be picked up by a larger publisher, a publisher that will take both of them. There are certain advantages, she said. The two know how to work together and communication is easy for a husband and wife.
Well, the runs have helped him focus on his schoolwork in the morning. Dillon has run multiple 5K’s, even winning his age division in one, and is preparing for his first 10K sometime in the next year.
Kristi and Dave Grimm’s books can be purchased at The Book Rack, 1752 S. Signal Butte Road, Suite #108, Mesa, or online at BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com. They can be purchased in either paperback or e-book format.