Kaitlin Kulich craved something more creative to do other than working at a bakery when she went home last summer.
Kulich, a junior studying journalism, always had the idea to write a children’s book in the back of her mind.
“I’ve always had this really big passion for kids,” Kulich said. “As a journalist I knew that I wanted my audience to be children.”
Pawpaw is My Favorite Flavor! is the first children’s book Kulich has written. She will officially launch her book at the Pawpaw Festival in September. Kulich will have a special reading for Earth Day at the Bicentennial Park on Thursday.
Kulich loves Athens and knew she wanted to leave something behind that would show how much she has appreciated being here. Combining her love for journalism, food and children, she decided to write a book on pawpaws.
“I figured nobody knew the pawpaw was our state fruit,” Kulich said. “But the pawpaw is so cool and unique. The book is even going to come with a recipe card on how to make pawpaw ice cream.”
Not only did Kulich write the book to inform her readers about pawpaws, but she also wrote it to touch on the importance of local foods and why it’s important to sustain them.
“I’m a big environmental student, and I think it’s important to appreciate the fact that locally grown food is sustainable environmentally and economically,” Kulich said. “To me, food is a big part of Athens and I just want more people to know about pawpaws.”
Laura Dobrota, a 2015 Master of Fine Arts graduate at Ohio University, was given the opportunity to illustrate Kulich’s book. It’s a different type of art than what Dobrota is accustomed to, but it wasn’t a big challenge.
“Kaitlin had very descriptive details on how she wanted her pictures to look, so coming up with the illustrations weren’t very difficult,” Dobrota said.
Dobrota had never illustrated a children’s book before, but she enjoyed the process and would do it again.
“Even though it’s not my personal art, it’s still making art,” Dobrota said. “Anything that gets my creative mind thinking is a good thing.”
Nathan Hart, a freshman studying journalism, loves pawpaws and thinks it’s a great idea for a children’s book.
“Pawpaws are kind of an unknown fruit,” Hart said. “I think it’ll be good if more kids learn about them and what kinds of delicious foods are in their area.”
Kulich had a lot of inspiration for her story that stemmed from the culture of the Athens Farmers Market and her grandpas back home.
“I dedicated this book to my grandpas because I had a lot of awesome memories with them when I was growing up,” Kulich said. “They’ve been in my heart and mind for a while.”
Pawpaw is My Favorite Flavor! is going to be sold online on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Kulich said. She also hopes to sell her book at the local bookstores in Athens and maybe one day make it into an audio story. The book does not yet have a set price.
“I hope my readers learn more about this region because it is truly a hidden treasure of Ohio,” Kulich said. “I want my book to show people that we need to value the work farmers do for us as well as take care of the rare fruits and vegetables that we’re lucky to have.”