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Bubble-icious: A Tale of a Boy, Gum, and the Consequences of Not Listening

Bubble-icious: A Tale of a Boy, Gum, and the Consequences of Not Listening

By Karen Knight

How much trouble can one bubble do? A lot, apparently. Shari Schwert’s first book tells the story of a young boy who ignores his parents’ warning, and blows a giant bubble. What are the consequences? The book was released April 2.
Mascot Books
How much trouble can one bubble do? A lot, apparently. Shari Schwert’s first book tells the story of a young boy who ignores his parents’ warning, and blows a giant bubble. What are the consequences? The book was released April 2.

WOODBINE – Nearly 25 years after penning a story about a boy who gets into a mess over bubble gum, Shari Schwert became a first-time author with the April 2 release of “The Trouble With Bubble Gum.”

Schwert, who moved to Woodbine about 15 years ago, actually came up with the story in about 30 minutes.

“We moved to New Jersey in 2000, and I was getting used to living on the East Coast after growing up in Oklahoma,” Schwert, the mother of two teenagers, said. “My husband came east with a job, but I didn’t have one at the time.

“I came up with the story in about 30 minutes, but the publishing industry was so different then. You needed an agent to be published, but you couldn’t get an agent unless you were published. It was so hard to get off the ground back then.”

Shari Schwert, of Woodbine, was part of the Read Across America event at Middle Township Elementary School #1, when she read her first book and where the response “was really awesome.”

And, then, she said, “life happened.” She had been an English teacher in Oklahoma and became licensed to teach in New Jersey. She worked at a few day-care facilities and taught primarily third graders and below. She had two children. She added a couple dogs and cats over the years, a move to a home in Court House, and then to Woodbine.

“One day, my husband came home and said one of his clients just was published, and thought if she could do it, so could I,” she recalled. “I wasn’t even sure where the story was. I asked my girlfriend, who had been my college roommate, if she had it, and she did. She had it on a floppy disk. Where do you even go today to read a floppy? She was able to retrieve it, though, so I sent it to a publisher, and within two weeks got the go-ahead.”

“The Trouble With Bubble Gum,” Schwert said, “is about a boy and consequences after he doesn’t listen to his parents telling him not to blow bubbles.

“Why would he listen to his parents?” she said, laughing. “Parents don’t know anything. Well, in the beginning this little boy has this big head of hair. He blows this amazing bubble, and it goes everywhere and at the end of the story, he no longer has that big head of hair. I love stories that teach a lesson; I love stories that kids like to read.”

The story is written in verse, and Schwert said because it came easy for her, she had a lot of self-doubt that it was any good. She read it at Middle Township Elementary School #1 one day, and the response was “really awesome. I was so nervous, but thought, I’m a pre-K teacher, this is what I do. I never expected it to take off, but I always wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Maybe I’m growing up.”

The process of publishing a book, she said, was really eye-opening because of all the “unknowns. But my publisher held my hand all along the way, and was really great,” she said. “Looking for an illustrator was like a dating game. I looked at a bunch of artists, and when I saw something I liked, we had to check availability. At the beginning, I didn’t have something in mind for the illustrations, but along the way, I did. The illustrator did a fantastic job, I thought.”

The book is illustrated by Mari Sebastian and published by Mascot Books. It is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. It is geared for children 4 to 8 years old and has 38 pages.

“If all goes well, I have one concept for another book ready and two more developing,” she said. “I’ve always loved books for young adults, so maybe this is how I get there: Through the younger readers.”

Schwert plans to participate in the Avalon Library’s local book fair on June 1.

Contact the author, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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