Ashley Abene recently published her first children’s book, titled The Red, Red Wild, in December 2019.

Ashley Abene juggles the roles of a military spouse, mother, adjunct English professor and blogger, to name a few. And now, this Valrico resident and mother of two can add ‘children’s book author’ to the list.

Originally from Bradenton, Abene relocated to the Tampa area in 2012 when her husband, Sean, received military orders to MacDill Air Force Base. With her husband frequently traveling or deploying, Abene desired to connect with others in the throes of motherhood. Shortly after having her firstborn, she started a parenting blog, and since then has also published parenting articles in the Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

Also an avid reader, Abene began reading to her children when they were infants. After observing her baby’s fascination with the color red, the idea for her faith-based book, The Red, Red Wild, materialized.

“I couldn’t find many books about red animals,” said Abene. “Since I couldn’t find one, I decided to write it. This book isn’t just for babies, though, it can be read to any child, and it is educational too.”

In sing-song fashion, The Red, Red Wild acknowledges that God is the creator of all the beautiful red animals and encourages children to go outside and explore His creation. It also educates as it depicts lesser-known animals such as red pandas, red kangaroos and red deer.

Abene continued, “I want children and their parents to walk away from reading this book thinking ‘I am special, and God has called me to do great things.’”

While her vision and writing were uninhibited, Abene struggled to secure a publisher and illustrator. After four years, she decided to ‘take a page’ from Eric Carle’s classic children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Using watercolor and enlisting her 5-year-old daughter’s help, the pair began creating the book’s cover and illustrations. From start to finish, her labor of love took four years, but the family involvement was priceless and well worth the wait.

With some graphic design courses and experience behind her, Abene has plans to expand her book into a series called The Wild Creation Series. Her next book in this series will be titled The Blue, Blue Ocean.

The Red, Red Wild is recommended for ages 1 month to 8 years and is available for purchase on Amazon. More information on the author and her book can be found on her blog at https://picturesquefamiliarity.wordpress.com.